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March 06, 2015

"The Four Quadrant Technique That Makes Drive Such a Beautiful Movie"

I liked Drive, so I found this 3.5 minute discussion interesting.

"11 Ways To Spot Bogus Headlines About Your Health"

We really shouldn't have to warn adults that "If the research wasn’t conducted on humans, the findings can’t necessarily be extrapolated to humans" and "Correlation is not causation!"

But, sadly, given the deficiencies of our modern public education system, we probably do.

"Famous Movie Locations You Can Visit In Real Life"

When I lived in L.A.--if I had known Die Hard was coming--I'd have visited Nakatomi Plaza.

March 05, 2015

"Everybody hates Pearson"

One reason:

In the U.S., testing is the most searingly divisive issue. The business of assessing students through high school has grown 57% in just the past three years, to $2.5 billion, according to the Software & Information Industry Association. Some believe “high-stakes testing” is the best way to create accountability; others think it measures little and incentivizes the wrong things. Either way, it is now the largest segment within educational technology—and in little more than a decade, Pearson has gone from no presence to dominating the realm.

The solution, as many people smarter than I have noted: more school choice.

Make your own "long, strange trip" joke

"Grateful Dead Original Members to Perform Together Again One Last Time".

"New SAT, New Problems"

Great, just great:

Coleman and the College Board tout the SAT as a measure of what they define as "college readiness," but what this peek at some questions suggests is that the revised exam is being used as yet another assessment exam that shapes rather than reflects what kids learn in school. It’s a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

"Where The Money Goes- How Music Sales Profits Are Divided"

Touring is where the money is at: artists supposedly get about 60% of the ticket price.

March 04, 2015

"Two Cheers for Corruption"

By Deirdre McCloskey and it's a tour de force in a small space.

I don't agree--small corruption might be "O,K." but large-scale corruption is not. And cutting the federal government would go a long way to solving the problem. 

But it's an impressive piece: Jay Cost is wrong, Samuel Bryan is wrong, Madison is wrong, and Adam Smith is only half right. You don't read that sort of thing every day.

"15 Predictions for Tech and Design in 2015"

Great things could well be coming.

Sing along with Ol' Blue Eyes: "The Best is Yet To Come".

"How to survive a disaster"

From the BBC, highlighting the research of John Leach, University of Portsmouth.

So the only reliable way to shortcut this kind of impaired thinking, most survival experts agree, is by preparing for an emergency in advance. . . . Typically, survivors survive not because they are braver or more heroic than anyone else, but because they are better prepared.

Link via Instapundit who observes, "Maybe a little bit of panic is a good thing."

"Most Diets Can Be Boiled Down to Three Words: Eat More Vegetables"

That's consistent with my reading.

But you can't argue with his guy's advice, either: "The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat". (Link via Instapundit.)

"Lone Star Resilience"

"Falling oil prices are no longer a threat to Texas."

We'll see, but the author makes a pretty convincing case.

March 03, 2015

"Why Oscar winners live longer than nominees"

Actually, they don't. Meet "immortal time bias."

"Retirement: When you should take Social Security"

Larry Kotlikoff has co-authored a new book on the subject. I recommend it, especially if you don't know about "declare and suspend" and "spousal benefits"

"Walker's Wisconsin"

Ironman at Political Calculations presents some interesting data on Wisconsin's recent economic performance

And as a former academic, I found this bit especially interesting:

In Fall 2009, the University of Wisconsin-Madison employed 2,017 faculty and 16,507 administrative staff. In Fall 2010, funded in part by Governor Doyle's new taxes and benefiting from President Obama's economic "stimulus", the number of faculty members increased by 10 to 2,027, while the number of administrative staff increased by 836 to 17,343. Since Fall 2011, of the 19,527 faculty, grad students and staff reported as being employed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where 2,200 are faculty and another 2,000 or so are grad student/teaching assistants, we can infer that the size of the university's administrative staff has increased to around 17,527, which represents an approximate 1,020 increase in the number of administrative staff since Fall 2009.

Coincidentally, Professor Chinn reports that the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Chancellor Becky Blanks has said that the Governor's proposed reduction in funding for the institution could require it to shed some 1,083 staff positions.

Well, that would be about right, wouldn't it? Just thought we'd take a quick moment to connect the appropriate dots....

"Editorial: A second chance to get honest with the voters"

The Chicago Sun-Times asks for a little honesty from the mayoral candidates.

Needless to say I agree. The country would be a lot better if politicians just stopped lying so much.

"Why India Will Keep Growing Faster Than China"

Of the two India's the one I'd bet on.

March 02, 2015

"A revolutionary beehive with a built-in honey tap has taken the beekeeping world by storm"

"Two Australian inventors are changing the way honey is harvested and the world can’t get enough of it."

"19 Things Every Academic Will Immediately Relate To"

#11: "We wish to thank Reviewer 2 for their critical feedback & sincerely apologize for not having written the manuscript they would have written."

Yes, I can relate.

"Raleigh needs buses, not rail"

Oh, my. An outbreak of sense in my local paper's op-ed page.

When it comes to a light-rail system for Raleigh, label me a skeptic.

I am a believer in buses, and I think our bus system should be expanded and more bus shelters erected.

Before we sink huge bundles of money into a light-rail system, I think a stronger case needs to be made, given our limited resources.

"If anything I exult in the quantity of decisions."

Amen, James Lileks, Amen.

I know where everything is. I have never felt overwhelmed by the quantity of decisions I am required to make, because I have in my head a set of standards: price, quality, how the excesses in this item will be offset by the virtues in this other one, and so on. If anything I exult in the quantity of decisions. To live in a land with 17 types of canned corn! 

"France's demographic bad luck"

Fine column by Glenn Reynolds, Worth reading for the quoting of Heinlein's magnificent wisecrack alone.

"The Smearing of Willie Soon"

John Hinderaker makes a point that can't be reiterated enough.

. . . the New York Times and other pro-government sources assume that government funding of research is lily-white, while corporate funding is inherently suspect. This is ridiculous. Put aside, for a moment, the fact that the American environmental movement is funded by Russia’s state-controlled oil company. Also the fact that Greenpeace gets money ($203 million) from the American Petroleum Foundation, with another $214 million coming from the Chamber of Commerce.

That isn’t the real scandal. The real scandal is that the overwhelming majority of money spent on climate research comes from governments. Governments, most notably ours, fund climate hysteria to the tune of billions of dollars per year. Why? Because the whole point of global warming alarmism is to persuade voters to cede more control over Western economies to government. (No one actually cares about CO2 emissions from India or China, which together vastly exceed ours.)

See also "Global Warming: Follow the Money".

"20 Secret Tips Everyone Who Shops On Amazon Needs To Know"

My family really likes Amazon.

Some more interesting reading on Amazon:

"The myth of Amazon's ebook monopoly, in two screenshots".

"Amazon's Profit Shows How Few People Understand The Way The Company Works".

" Could Start The Mother Of All Price Wars".

March 01, 2015

"The Best Diner In Every State"

From Business Insider:

Diners are an American tradition, and everyone thinks his or her hometown's greasy spoon is the best.

For this list, we scoured Yelp reviews, local newspapers, and culinary awards to find the most popular and beloved diner in every state. We defined diner as a restaurant whose primary purpose is serving breakfast, and awarded bonus points to dives open 24-7.

"This is probably the coolest way to trim your trees."

Expensive and a bit messy, but I'll second that.

February 28, 2015

"Why Bibi’s Speech Matters"

Matthew Continetti:

What the opponents of a bad deal with Iran have witnessed over the last few months is the transference of Obama’s domestic political strategies to the international stage. A senior administration official is on record likening an Iranian nuclear agreement to Obamacare, and the comparison makes sense not only in the relative importance of the two policies to this president, not only because both policies are terrible and carry within them unforeseen consequences that will not be manifest for years, but also because of the way opponents of both policies are treated by the White House. If they are not ignored or dismissed, their motives are impugned. They are attacked personally, bullied, made examples of.

UPDATE: See also "Obama’s Failure".


Cool little free astronomy program.

"How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?"

Adam Davidson, New York Times:

The reason a majority of movie studios still turn a profit most years is that they have found ways to, as they say, monetize the ancillary stream by selling pay-TV and overseas rights, creating tie-in video games, amusement-park rides and so forth. And the big hits, rare as they may be, pay for a lot of flops. Still, the profits are not huge. Matthew Lieberman, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, expects growth over the coming years to be somewhere around 0.6 percent.

February 27, 2015

"14 Overrated Tourist Attractions Around The World — And Where To Go Instead"

I have no personal knowledge of any of these except for the thumbs-down--which I second--on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

See also the probably more controversial "The 16 Most Disappointing Places To Visit On Earth".

"An Honest Letter from Your I.T. Department"

Short and funny.

Although we refer to this as an upgrade, it is, at best, a lateral move. The software does the same things as before, except your favorite features have been moved to a place where you will never find them again.

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