Russia Is Running Out Of Forest is just below “dire sand shortage in Saudi Arabia” on the list of unlikely problems. But it seems to be true, and a good example of just how bad short-sighted environmental policies can get. I found most interesting the part about how the country’s replanting agency uses techniques it knows don’t work, because using techniques that do work would take more time and they are judged based on how many sq km they replant per year whether it works or not. The mentality of charging per kilogram of machine is alive and well.
It’s like rain on your wedding day. It’s like ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife. It’s like 216 people becoming ill after eating chicken contaminated by c. perfringens bacteria at a conference on food safety.
Football chants are charmingly authentic form of cultural expression that consists of taking beloved songs and changing the words to an expletive-laden description of how the other team sucks. Apparently Man Utd and Liverpool do not like each other very much?
Scott Sumner picks (non-budgetary) holes in guaranteed basic income. I’m not too sympathetic to his worry that we would need to pay city-dwellers more than country-dwellers to adjust for the high cost of living – I don’t see it as the government’s job to subsidize poor people living in expensive cities they can’t afford, and would rather people have to make their own choices about living places where their income goes further versus less far. His point about immigrants is more troubling: if a GBI pushes Americans out of work, instead of automating production or offering more incentives, companies would likely just import immigrants. Then we either have to extend benefits to those immigrants – creating an endless and unsustainable cycle – or keep them as serfs forever – which challenges the vision of a fair society the basic income was supposed to produce.
As if Ebola wasn’t bad enough already, victims are starting to rise from the dead
A new game on Kickstarter, CodeSpells, aims to teach coding through an multiplayer online RPG where players can program magic spells for their characters to use.
Speaking of Kickstarter, it is that time of year again. Raemon is planning a (fourth annual? fifth annual?) Secular Solstice in New York and needs donations and ticket purchases. I enjoyed last year’s ceremony and will probably be attending this year too.
The big question in the tech world is: why did Microsoft skip Windows 9 and go straight to Windows 10? One plausible theory: poorly-written old code tests if an operating system is Windows 95 or Windows 98 by seeing if it begins with ‘9’, and having a newer Windows 9 would confuse it.
High school student (falsely) accused of stealing a backpack imprisoned three years without trial. Seen on a Facebook discussion where I learned that one of our occasional Michigan LW meetup attendees is a lawyer doing work trying to stop this sort of thing.
Another story about the dark side of a family-values-pushing televangelism empire, with a twist. Wait, no, no twist, exactly like every other dark-side-of-family-values-pushing-televangelism story. But still fascinating and well-written. Warning: long.
“In a sample of 18 European nations, suicide rates were positively associated with the proportion of low notes in the national anthems and, albeit less strongly, with students’ ratings of how gloomy and how sad the anthems sounded” according to a paper in Psychological Reports.
Rumors about North Korea that never go anywhere come about every month or two, but this month’s are particularly interesting. Kim Jong-un continues to be missing, possibly with two broken ankles. Vague rumors that he is now only a figurehead, though this might not be new. And top North Korean officials making a surprise visit to the South after decades of sending only low-level people for carefully scripted negotiations.
A couple people on this blog have asked what the research says about preventing sexual assault. There have been a few good articles about that recently, most notably one on Vox. The takeaway: rape prevention “workshops” for college students don’t work, “bystander intervention” programs that tell people who witness rapes to speak up or do something may work. This kind of makes sense, on the grounds that rapists probably aren’t the sort of people who wouldn’t rape if only an hour long workshop told them it was morally wrong, but bystanders might be decent people who want to help but need to be informed how to act more effectively. Also of interest: everything surrounding whether no means no vs. yes means yes is useless. Interesting and related: this graph of military training by subject, and the ensuing Reddit comment thread with input from vets.
What Happened The Day I Replaced 99% Of The Genes In My Body With Those From A Hunter-Gatherer. I thought this title was going to be a lie, but after reading the article I’ve got to give him credit – he is technically correct, the best kind of correct. Also gross. Also fascinating.
Preferred Music Style Is Tied To Personality. I didn’t look too closely at the research, but I am glad it confirms my suspicion that classical music is just metal for old people.