A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Read — 2016/10/13

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. The way ahead“, by Barack Obama (The Economist). Unfinished business and the challenges ahead.
  2. Italy’s open literary secret“, by Beppe Severgnini (NY Times). The ballyhoo surrounding the identity of author Elena Ferrante.
  3. Gyms that make you want to exercise more“, by Rachel Bachman (Wall Street Journal). Because layout matters.

Read — 2016/09/22

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Flabby and fertile: how men age could be huge for humans“, by Rae Ellen Bichell (NPR). Yale anthropologist Richard Gutierrez Bribiescas studies how men’s ability to reproduce late in life may increase the longevity of both sexes of our species. When males are young, they often lead a high-risk, high-reward life. The idea: Being showy attracts mates. As men age, testosterone levels typically drop (though this is not universally true), and high-maintenance muscle goes away (perhaps because more resources are diverted to fighting disease). If men with a “longevity” gene continue to reproduce late in life, their “genetic fitness” over their lifetime may surpass that of males who expend all their reproductive energy when young. And these longevity genes could be passed on to both sexes in the next generation, leading to longer life.
  2. MacArthur Foundation announces 2016 ‘genius’ grant winners“, by Jennifer Schuessler (NY Times).

Read — 2016/09/18

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. The triumph of simplicity“, by Sarah Fallon (Wired).
  2. How to learn about sex in Italy“, by Silvia Marchetti (OZY). Conservative states in the U.S., take notes.
  3. ‘The best speech never given’ was a eulogy for the Apollo 11 astronauts“, by Ian Graber-Stiehl (OZY). With a link to the original memo by William Safire.
  4. A New Yorker in London: 42 peculiarities you must know before you cross the pond“, by Hayley Bloomingdale (Vogue). Humorously penned. I especially like the bit about herbs and do-over birthdays.

Read — 2016/09/07

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. There is now a sixth taste — and it explains why we love carbs“, by Jessica Hamzelou (New Scientist).
  2. When Disney dabbled in sex ed“, by Leslie Nguyen-Okwu (OZY).

Read — 2016/09/04

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Goodbye, ivory tower. Hello, Silicon Valley candy store.“, by Steve Lohr (NY Times). Economists are finding greater opportunity — and paychecks — in tech companies.
  2. Political correctness and its real enemies“, by Jim Sleeper (NY Times). Dr. Sleeper blames the “threat to free inquiry” squarely on the outsized influence of money in academia (and in society more generally) and the political right’s portrayal of protest.

Read — 2016/09/03

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. This fashion week, Google gets a new look“, by Daisuke Wakabayashi (NY Times). In a move that puts it in competition with Instragram, Google experiments with letting fashion designers control some of the content returned to users who search their brand.
  2. University of Chicago isn’t the only place fighting back against PC nonsense“, by Bari Weiss (Acculturated). Nonsense is not the right word. Maybe burlesque.
  3. The real-life superhero who beats the cops to bike thieves“, by Christopher Solomon (Outside). Seattle’s stolen-bike vigilante. This article contains (profanity and) useful information about and link to

Math — 2016/08/24

Topics I intersected nontrivially today:

  1. Closed smooth manifolds can always be given a CW structure via Morse functions. See the motivating post (Stack Exchange), this explanation of the construction of the CW complex (Math Overflow), spicing both to taste with dashes of Wikipedia (Morse theory, etc.).

Read — 2016/08/23

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Why ‘practice makes perfect’ might be a lie“, by Melissa Pandika (OZY). Recently published research suggests that “practice…stopped predicting performance” among elite athletes. Still, “[a]cross all skill levels, deliberate practice explained 18 percent of differences in performance” — so don’t throw in the towel just yet.
  2. The power of negative thinking“, by Oliver Burkeman (Wall Street Journal).
  3. Why you need negative feelings“, by Elizabeth Bernstein (Wall Street Journal).
  4. 50 amazing puns from past pun competitions“, by Alvin Ward (Mental Floss).

Read — 2016/08/21

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Conquering the freshman fear of failure“, by David L. Kirp (NY Times). Put young students in contact with upperclassmen, and convince them to adopt a growth mindset.
  2. Why aren’t any bankers in prison for causing the financial crisis?“, by Joe Pinsker (The Atlantic).
  3. I ran away from my [abusive] husband and became a stuntwoman“, by Lucy Hancock (BBC News). And now I’m challenging gender stereotypes and bringing hope to women in abusive relationships.
  4. He convinced 2.8 million people to give him one penny each“, by Sean Braswell (OZY). OK, not quite, but the title captures the spirit of this 1987 Horatio Alger tale. It doesn’t capture the confused nature of this world, as appears in the life of one of its main characters, Bob Greene.
  5. Malcolm Gladwell: Get angry at America’s best colleges“, by Malcolm Gladwell (OZY). The insightful author contends that √©lite American universities are failing to realize their potential helping individuals realize their potential (what Gladwell calls “capitalization”).

Read — 2016/08/20

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. 5 things you didn’t know about Natalie Portman“, by Maria Ward (Vogue). The article comes across a bit differently than her SNL interview sketch. It also led me to her Harvard Class Day address (2015) and the trailer for the film Tiny Furniture.

More mundanely, five references about car depreciation:

  1. Car depreciation” (Contract Hire and Leasing).
  2. New car depreciation myths and facts” (CarsDirect) (2012-01-27).
  3. The scary truth about new cars” (MSN) (2016-02-24).
  4. Depreciation infographic: how fast does my new car lose value?” ( (2010-09-24).
  5. New car depreciation…truth or myth?” (Yahoo! Answers) (2008).