A old-timey schoolmaster is unnecessarily cruel to his students, caning them for the slightest offense real or imagined. His students get so angry that they revolt, tie up the schoolmaster, and leave him bound in the classroom, where he remains for hours before being rescued by a passing traveler. The schoolmaster complains to the father of one of the boys, the ringleader in the plot. The boy’s father – himself a judge – answers “Sic semper tyrannis!”. That boy?
Albert Einstein Future US President John Tyler.
In retrospect, Amazon’s nifty-but-implausible drone delivery announcement being a way to make the headlines on Cyber Monday rather than a real plan makes perfect sense. The good news is that China seems to be genuinely working on this.
The drones – not even the promise of drone delivery, but just the existence of hexacopters and stuff like them – are one of a couple of things I’ve been thinking about in the past few months that make me more skeptical of the Great Stagnation. There’s also 3D-printed organs, self-driving cars, six or seven really promising new potentially revolutionary medical technologies, cost-effective renewable power, graphene + metamaterials, cheap genetic testing, and consumer virtual reality – though of course there’s still time for any of those to slip up before market. And another good technology in this category is tasty non-animal based meat.
Speaking of which – futurology is notoriously difficult and bad, but this Business Insider article on Twenty Trends That Will Dominate America’s Future seems surprisingly on the ball.
This month’s cancer “breakthrough” is carbon monoxide (popular, academic). Staying on the subject, I’ve been noticing how people like to say “The idea of a ‘cure for cancer’ is a popular myth; in reality cancer is hundreds of different diseases each of which will require its own cure”. They make an important point, and this is how nearly all cancer research thus far has proceeded, but it’s important to qualify this by mentioning that many cancers share a lot of similarities and that it’s by no means certain that powerful treatments that work across a wide variety of cancers won’t be found. Or if treatments are limited, they may be limited not by the traditional division of cancer (breast, lung, prostate) but by the cancer’s genetic makeup. This carbon monoxide thing, if it pans out, may be one such treatment. (Note: carbon monoxide is still a deadly poison and using it not under the guidance of a trained researcher is still a bad idea)
Also would make a good science fiction story: some bandits in Mexico capture a cargo truck. In the back, they find some very heavily armored and well-protected boxes and assume they’ve hit the jackpot. But when they pry them open, they find only a teaspoon of nondescript material. They shrug and make their escape. A week later, all of them are either dead or dying horribly, and the major governments of the world are on alert. This happened two weeks ago!
Your Ex Probably Doesn’t Have A Personality Disorder. I remember once managing to impress someone with my creepy psychiatrist powers. I mentioned I was a psychiatrist, and he said he thought his ex-girlfriend might have had a psychiatric disorder. I interrupted “Let me guess – borderline personality?” and he was pretty freaked out that I got it right first try without knowing him or his ex. The “secret” is that everyone diagnoses their ex-girlfriend with borderline personality disorder because it fits a lot of stereotypical complaints about the way women behave in relationships. As such, this article is a good one to read and useful. My only qualm about it is that, while it accurately points out that laymen just reading through a list of DSM criteria for an illness and seeing which ones seem to fit the subject doesn’t always work that well, it then implies that real psychiatrists have a much better way of doing things. If that’s true, I haven’t learned it yet. And the first time I suspected one of my patients might have borderline personality disorder, I asked my attending what I should do and she said “Go through the DSM criteria, see if she fits, and if she does, diagnose her”. I think the appropriate semantic stopsign here is “clinical experience”, but goodness only knows how much that helps.
Is Krampus The Christmas Demon Becoming Too Commercial? asks a real article that somebody actually published.
I’ve previously talked about “wet houses” which address alcoholism through an “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy of letting alcoholics drink as much as they want while having a roof over their heads and a supportive community. Now Amsterdam is trying a not dissimilar tactic of paying alcoholics in beer for help on city beautification projects.
Tilt-shifted astronomical images. Mini-space! Looks kind of like plankton or cells or crystals or something.
A police officer on what’s really happening behind all those “that brutal policeman got off with just ‘paid leave’! That’s like punishing someone with a vacation!” stories
Patri Friedman, one of the first people in our community to go polyamorous, has just come out as monogamous, and makes a guarded recommendation that other people should turn monogamous as well. Notable as a critique of polyamory from someone who’s been there and isn’t just playing the Shocked And Appalled At You Kids’ Depravity card.
The Worst Things For Sale Blog. Kind of addictive. Also contains lots of Amazon links in case hearing about how terrible a product is motivates you to want to buy it.
There’s a new record cold temperature on Earth, and it’s in
Did you know that African immigrants to the United States have among the highest educational attainment of any demographic group and are over twice as likely as native-born white Americans to have college degrees?
New Mexico is the only state with an official question, a discovery which has started me thinking about what other states’ Official Questions should be.
Sentences you don’t often hear: “Approximately 1% of the total population of the country lived in the building”. Especially when the country in question is a quarter of the size of the United States. Also: “During [the building’s] first year, there were minor problems with coagulated blood clogging up the drainage”. Blok P.
Sky News headline posted on Reddit as “Why we need the Oxford Comma”: “Top stories: World leaders at Mandela tribute, Obama-Castro handshake and same-sex marriage date set”.
People confuse me with Scott Aaronson a lot – a confusion I don’t mind at all because he is awesome. Aaronson’s essay on 23andMe isn’t going to make things any less confusing. He says a lot of the same things I did, only more fluently and convincingly.
Last week I argued that government should strengthen welfare instead of trying to increase the minimum wage. Now David Neumark – an economist whose name came up a couple of times in the comments – argues that we are already sort of doing this. On the other hand, the way it’s being done is terrible and even worse than the minimum wage, because it ties the benefits to having children even though many people in poverty are childless and even though this punishes impoverished couples who want to wait until they’re financially stable enough to support children before having any.
You know (or “know”) that Nixon said he would have made a good Pope. But did you know that he said if rap had existed during his childhood, he would have become a rapper instead of a politician?