[New link disclaimer: I’ve read or skimmed these articles, but not necessarily researched them exhaustively, and can’t 100% vouch for their accuracy. If you notice an issue, point it out to me and I’ll edit it into the post.]
Latin Wikipedia makes you feel like you’re in a world where Rome never fell. Here’s Civitates Foederatae Americae.
Zompist on Jane Jacobs on cities.
Past versions of Notepad had a weird bug that would manifest only for text files with a few very specific phrases, including “Bush hid the facts”.
Replication effort criticizes study showing that national wealth is related to “genetic distance” from the US, both failed replication author and original authors show up in the comments to defend themselves, ends up being a pretty interesting opportunity to watch an academic debate in real time.
Articles on places that have or haven’t kept health care costs down may just be falling for accounting sleight-of-hand.
Aviary Attorney describes itself as “potentially the hottest bird lawyering game to come out of 1840s France”
Jacobin on the role of governments in blue-sky research.
Oberlin students accuse dining services of cultural appropriation and cultural insensitivity for serving insufficiently authentic foreign food. This is your regular reminder that Vox thinks you should make your browser auto-change “political correctness” to “treating people with respect”.
Speaking of which, did you know that 68% of Americans (including 62% of Democrats and 61% of nonwhites) believe political correctness is a big problem? Unfortunately, I bet this just means that everyone defines “political correctness” as “the forms of political correctness that I don’t like”, not that there’s any broad consensus against any particular thing. Still, next time someone says there’s no such thing as political correctness, tell them 61% of minorities think they’re wrong.
Did Indian illiteracy almost double after the introduction of a law preventing schools from failing students?
The new three-digit Internet error code (think 404 error) for pages inaccessible because of censorship is 451 error, after Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
“Skulls for the skull throne!” doesn’t look as cool as it sounds.
Are US corporations spending less on research and development? Why?
SpaceX’s powered rocket landing was a success, potentially paving the way for an order-of-magnitude reduction in the price of getting things to orbit.
SSC sponsor Beeminder gets profiled in a Discover article on the biology of procrastination.
When a dysfunctional economy and shortage of raw materials prevented the local Pepsi factory from making soda, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro sprung into action: by arresting Pepsi workers for makinb Venezuela’s economy look bad.
The complexities of the British Commonwealth mean that every so often, British monarchs are legally at war with themselves.
Put A Number On It rips into 538’s interpretation of affirmative action data.
Another discussion of whether the FDA is too conservative or too aggressive, this time concluding that it depends on the disease.
Enrico Fermi knew pretty much all the great physicists of the 1930s, and he said the greatest mind of them all was a young man named Ettore Majorana, whom he ranked alongside Galileo or Newton. At age 32, Majorana disappeared on a boat trip and was never seen again.
So, you’re Greece. You have an unmanagable amount of debt, your public and private sectors are both economic disasters, and the EU keeps breathing down your neck. Do you A) implement strict austerity, B) seek further bailouts and debt relief, or C) announce plans to rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes, four times bigger than the original?
Dave Barry’s traditional year in review.
Pew: The American middle class is losing ground. FEE: No, that’s a really misleading way to frame it, the American middle class is shrinking mostly because people are getting richer. Reddit: [100 comments’ worth of interesting debate on this point].
Neat riddle spotted in one of Scott Aaronson’s students’ papers: Suppose you have a biased coin but you don’t know what the bias is and don’t want to rely on potentially-faulty induction to find out. How do you use it to simulate a fair coin?
From here: “Flaming Lips frontman/professional eccentric Wayne Coyne discusses how during his childhood, his mother used to talk about this really weird Christmas movie set in outer space. The preposterous-sounding film obsessed Coyne as a boy to such an extent that he eventually figured out it didn’t exist in the form she imagined. She’d created it in her mind by falling asleep in front of the TV, then combining the unrelated films onscreen into one crazy, literally unbelievable movie mega-mix through confusion, imagination, and dream logic. Coyne eventually set out to make the movie his mother had talked about, which became his directorial debut, Christmas On Mars. ”
I definitely can’t endorse this without looking into it further, but it presented a point of view I hadn’t seeen before so I’m opening it up to see if anyone wants to comment. Anatoly Karlin on 10 ways Russia and Putin get a bad rap, backed up with citations below. 3, 4, and 8 were the ones that surprised me, especially the part about Russia’s income inequality being less than the US’.
Vox has some good, if spoiler-laden, commentary on Star Wars VII: What’s the relationship between the Republic and the Resistance?, How Episode VII is trying to place Star Wars in the comic books genre, and Why it was so like the thing that it was so like.
Tyler Cowen in NYT on how assortative mating increases income inequality. But I think the study he’s citing might be the one that later got corrected to say that there was a statistical mistake and assortative mating doesn’t increase income inequality much at all. [EDIT: Cowan’s response]
The highest-earning athlete of all time, adjusted for inflation, etc, may have been Roman charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles.
A slightly point-missing profile of the Seattle effective altruist community including interviews with confirmed-awesome-people John Salvatier and Elizabeth van Nostrand.
We’ve been interpreting decreasing age of menarche as indicative of some kind of social pathology, but it might just be reversion to the evolutionary mean after a few thousand years of poor living conditions. But then why would poor women in broken families have earlier menarche than others?
The Atlantic proposes that Obama has precipitated a vast leftward shift in American culture as epochal as the vast rightward shift under Reagan. Counterpoint: Americans Are More Conservative Than They Have Been In Decades. Why do I have to keep reading these kinds of articles every few months? This question really shouldn’t be this hard to settle!
More on the greater male variability hypothesis; I don’t really understand this one.
Not only did the Sedan nuclear test irradiate lots of people, but somebody misrecorded it as the Sudan nuclear test and caused an international incident because Sudan thought we were nuking them.