Did someone you love die while still single? Do you know anyone of the opposite sex who also died while still single? Time for a ghost marriage!
Hottest Heads Of State ranks the US Presidents (h/t Eric Rall). “Here he is—the hottest American president! You’re probably thinking “Wow! Where has Franklin Pierce been all my life?” The answer is that he died in 1869.”
New artificial lighting with nanoparticle scattering is indistinguishable from sunlight (h/t Naureen). So much so that the company reports it has tricked seasoned interior designers into thinking its lights are real windows or skylights. You start to get a feel for what a big deal this is when you see their pictures, and it could have some really big effects – access to natural lighting is a limiting factor in a lot of architecture, and people’s mood and productivity are different in different lighting environments. And I assume someone will be able to overlay images on top of these, making them really indistinguishable from windows. Imagine you can make your bedroom look just like a Hawaiian hotel room on a bright sunny day, complete with beach view. Possible caveat – this could screw up our circadian rhythm even more than it’s screwed up already (but see this)
Greg Mankiw puts inequality in perspective: if income inequality had not increased after 1973, the median household would have $9,000 more. If productivity growth had not slowed after 1973, the median household would have had $30,000 more. But see also MR comments, which ask about whether the two trends could be related and which is easier to reverse than the other.
The newest thing someone’s claimed they can determine with digit ratio: how nice a man is to women (h/t Yana). “When with women, men with smaller ratios were more likely to listen attentively, smile and laugh, compromise or compliment the other person.”
The FDA helps cover up fraud in FDA clinical trials, which seems to be unexpectedly common. I was floored by the idea that outright falsification (as opposed to mere deliberately biased experimental design) was going on at these levels, but it seems at least some of it is in China (which has a laxer scientific culture). It’s pretty impressive how the FDA can quash innovation and fail to protect people at the same time. Also, I think I speak for everyone in medicine when I pray that please please please don’t let there be anything wrong with rivaroxaban or else we’ll have to go back to warfarin.
A defense of Fahrenheit. “In a sentence: Fahrenheit uses its digits more efficiently than Centigrade.”
Magic is a company that lets you text them any legal request, and they’ll fulfill it for the appropriate fee. Potentially useful for all my social phobic friends who hate phone calls, since they can be communicated with by text and can handle the calling part of things like ordering delivery pizza.
Oregon City has the United States’ only public outdoor elevator to transport citizens from one level of the city to another.
New immigration does not reduce assimilation of existing immigrants.
Even more interesting: Immigrants’ political views are similar to those of the native-born, become indistinguishable after one generation (h/t Drew) though the significance testing looks weird and there may be country-of-origin confounders.
Sunglasses that help with color blindness by restricting the ranges of light that can be seen.
Greece wants a basic income. This seems terrible to me. First, they can’t even afford what they’re already doing, let alone a basic income. Second of all, Greece ruins anything economic that it touches, so probably this program would fail and discredit basic income for decades even if it would have worked fine in the hands of a more competent country.
Right-to-try laws say permanently ill patients can get experimental drugs even without full FDA approval. An attendee at the SSC meetup pointed out a potential pitfall – if you can get the real thing, who’s going to want to participate in studies that include a 50% chance of getting placebo?
The media’s latest attempt to misrepresent stories about sexual assault doesn’t seem to be going so well.
Noah Smith against the complaint that economics can’t predict anything, or isn’t a real science. I think he misses what I would consider to be the most important point – market behavior is anti-inductive, so the argument that only being able to predict the market counts is unfairly saying you’ll only give economics credit it it can predict inherently unpredictable things. Interested whether the most striking success he credits to economics – the economist who correctly predicted BART ridership when everyone else got it wrong – has been replicated on other mass transit or if it’s a little post hoc.
Every form of youth behavior has been improving over the last five years in Britain, including crime, truancy, pregnancy, alcoholism, etc. But beware of truncated axes!
Leah posted this mentioning my thrival/survival dichotomy: Republicans are more confident than Democrats they will survive the apocalypse. Could be from any number of things – more rural, better with guns – but the result I find most interesting is that Republicans have invested much more effort into preparing for it.
People who talk about processed food being bad for you sound intuitively plausible, but they’ve always sounded unscientific when they can’t point to the particular reason it’s bad: “Uh, toxins!”. Now two very common emulsifiers have been preliminarily found to damage the gut microbiome and increase obesity.
Everyone knows when you’re drunk other people look more attractive. But apparently also being drunk makes you look more attractive to others even in terms of them merely seeing photos of your face. Interesting not only in proposing “be drunk all the time” as a dating strategy, but as a point in favor of what I think of as the creepy telepathy model of attraction – that internal mental qualities like how relaxed and confident you are can change your attractiveness level independentlyish of your actions. That is, I assume the way being drunk makes your face more attractive is by making you feel more relaxed and so altering your muscle pattern, which other people can subconsciously pick up on. What other things might work like that?
Why bookstores sometimes destroy the books they are sent, plus why books frequently include a message that if you got the book without a cover it may have been stolen.
Yuval Harari’s his new book on humanity (how’s that for a broad topic?) gets a Daniel Kahneman interview, makes Rod Dreher existentially terrified about our transhuman future, and gets excerpted on Xenosystems with what I consider a really important point:
The 20th century, it’s the era of the masses, mass politics, mass economics. Every human being has value, has political, economic, and military value, simply because he or she is a human being, and this goes back to the structures of the military and of the economy, where every human being is valuable as a soldier in the trenches and as a worker in the factory. […] But in the 21st century, there is a good chance that most humans will lose, they are losing, their military and economic value. This is true for the military, it’s done, it’s over. The age of the masses is over. We are no longer in the First World War, where you take millions of soldiers, give each one a rifle and have them run forward. And the same thing perhaps is happening in the economy.
This month in machine value-binding being hard: an AI that was supposed to use reinforcement learning to play Tetris keeps it paused forever since that way it can’t lose.
A while back I suggested giving homeless people houses might pay for itself in reduced use of public services. I was probably wrong. According to a new study in JAMA, giving poor people subsidized housing increases the amount of time they spend housed (okaaaay, I’m with you so far) but has no effect on “health related quality of life”. I am moderately suspicious of this measure and would like to see ER use / hospital visits measured directly. Also, I think they accidentally say they measured general quality of life when they really measured health-related quality of life. Also also, this doesn’t include savings from things like reduced use of the criminal justice system. But I have to admit the evidence is now against me in terms of health savings.
Sister Y has a book out, and it is exactly as cheerful as you would expect