A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: August, 2012

Read — 2012/08/22

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Guide for the Perplexed“, by David Brooks (NY Times). I guess this is what happens when Joe Nocera takes the day off: The Republican presidential ticket gets endorsed by the NY Times. Seriously, though, Brooks isn’t afraid to admit that “[e]ntitlement spending is crowding out spending on investments in our children and on infrastructure”. I guess we’ll each have to decide whether we buy his assertion that “[t]he first priority in this election is to get a leader who can get Medicare costs under control”.
  2. What the G.O.P. Platform Represents“, by the editors (NY Times).
  3. Celebrate the Farmer!“, by Mark Bittman (NY Times).
  4. You Plan, I’ll Cook: Leaving the Menu to Others“, by Jane Black (NY Times).
  5. Bicycle Lanes Draw Wide Support among New Yorkers, Survey Finds“, by Michael Grynbaum and Marjorie Connelly (NY Times).
  6. Two Years in Prison as a Compromise“, by J.Y. (The Economist). I was shocked to read that “[t]he court’s psychological examination found the women of Pussy Riot to be suffering from ‘a proactive approach to life’ and ‘a drive for self-fulfillment'”. By this logic, many of the most successful members of society are working their way to a two-year labor-camp sentence.
  7. Asylum for Assange” (The Economist). A summary of the Assange intrigue, to date.
  8. Anonymous 4 (Wikipedia).

Read — 2012/08/18

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Panic Seizes India as a Region’s Strife Radiates“, by Jim Yardley (NY Times). A saddening account of fear, panic, and shattered lives in the fallout from a land- and power-struggle between Muslims and Bodo in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.
  2. The Pill for Men“, by L.R. (The Economist). A report on a new drug JQ1 that reduces sperm count by 90%, hamstrings the other 10%, and appears to be fully reversible.
  3. The Award for Nerdiest Preposition Goes To…“, by L.R.G. (The Economist). Modular arithmetic gets its heyday, modulo the focus field of publication.
  4. Location, Location, Location” (The Economist). A neat interactive chart that allows comparison of housing prices across several countries.
  5. Bell Weather” (The Economist). A review of a recent Proceedings article whose data strongly suggest that heatwaves are becoming more common. From the August 11 print edition (may need subscription to access).

Read — 2012/08/17

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Don’t Waste the Drought“, by Charles Fishman (NY Times). Did you know that 16 percent of transported water is lost into the ground due to leaky pipes? Or that the average American uses 99 gallons of water every day? Among Fishman’s suggestions to combat excessive water use are smart fixtures in the home and clear, simple water bills. An excellent point — how many of us know how much water we’re using?
  2. Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Defying Britain“, by William Neuman and Maggy Ayala (NY Times). Perhaps the most-commented-upon article of the day, an update on Assange’s de facto house arrest in London: Ecuador has granted the WikiLeaks founder political asylum, flouting the governments of Britain and the West.
  3. Pursuing Soft Power, China Puts Stamp on Africa’s News“, by Andrew Jacobs (NY Times). A revealing look at China’s “full-on charm offensive” in Kenya. If the west is to be believed, “[t]he fundamental difference is that Western-style media views itself as a watchdog and a protector of public interests, while the Chinese model seeks to defend the state from jeopardy or questions about its authority”. How this difference plays out in developing nations, as China pitches in while the West bails out, remains to be seen.
  4. Tired Rock Fans Begin Exodus“, by Barnard L. Collier (NY Times, 1969). An historical article from 18 August 1969 chronicling the end of Woodstock. The author’s diction and the interviewed’s responses reveal how the event — and the hippie movement more generally — was viewed by different segments of 60’s society. I particularly enjoyed the quote by Woodstock’s chief medical officer: “There has been no violence whatsoever, which is remarkable for a crowd of this size. These people are really beautiful.”
  5. Celebrate Rice: A Glasscock School Photography Contest. Some lovely photos from Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Read — 2012/08/16

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Microbes Maketh Man” (The Economist).
  2. Me, Myself, Us” (The Economist).
  3. Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden“, by Carl Zimmer (NY Times).
  4. Earthly Concerns” (The Economist).
  5. The Man with the Plan” (The Economist). An article on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, applauding Ryan’s calls for reducing the federal deficit and for reforming Medicare and the tax system, praising his clarity, and challenging his vague implementation plans and budgetary single-mindedness.
  6. On the Origin of Specie” (The Economist). An article surveying the role of money and the theories of its origin. Menger (1892) proposed that money arose to solve the “double coincidence of wants” problem associated with bartering. Goodhart (1998) “Cartalist” theory argued that money allowed governments to measure the income of — and tax — its citizens; money also allowed governments to raise seigniorage revenue. The article closes with words of warning to the Euro’s “divorce between the main monetary and fiscal authorities”.

Read — 2012/08/15

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. How to Be a Better Procrastinator“, by John Perry (Wall Street Journal).
  2. The Forgotten History of Ryan’s Medicare Reform“, by Joseph Rago (Wall Street Journal).
  3. Paul Ryan’s Neocon Manifesto“, by Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal).

Read — 2012/08/14

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Gave ‘Single Girl’ a Life in Full (Sex, Sex, Sex)“, by Margalit Fox (NY Times). In remembrance of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown.
  2. Korea Policing the Net. Twist? It’s South Korea“, by Choe Sang-Hun (NY Times).
  3. Japan Surrenders, End of War!“, by Arthur Krock (NY Times, 1945).
  4. The Smell of Fear (No Tweets Necessary)“, by Natalie Angier (NY Times).

Read — 2012/08/11

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Chief Justice…is one of five speakers for Rice’s Centennial Lecture Series“, by B.J. Almond.
  2. Young in G.O.P. Erase the Lines on Social Issues“, by Susan Saulny (NY Times).
  3. New Google Tools to Make the Search Engine More All-Knowing“, by Claire Cain Miller (NY Times).
  4. Nuns, at Juncture, Meet to Weigh Their Reply to the Vatican“, by Laurie Goodstein (NY Times).
  5. NBC Cut the Best Part of the Opening Ceremonies“, by R-J Heijmen (Mockingbird). The related footage can be viewed at

Read — 2012/08/06

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. First Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan“, by Sidney Shalett (NY Times, 1945).
  2. Batman Occupied“, by Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Sayres Rudy (The New Inquiry).
  3. Anything But Human“, by Richard Polt (NY Times).
  4. Fearing an Impasse in Congress, Industry Cuts Spending“, by Nelson D. Schwartz (NY Times).
  5. To Increase Learning Time, Some Schools Add Days to Academic Year“, by Motoko Rich (NY Times).
  6. Guided by Lucky Magazine, Shopping Will Soon Require Less Clicking“, by Christine Haughney (NY Times).

Read — 2012/08/04

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Decoding the Science of Sleep“, by David K. Randall (The Wall Street Journal). Interesting is A. Roger Ekirch’s (re)discovery of first and second sleep.
  2. Was Milton Friedman a Secret Admirer of Keynes“, by Donald J. Boudreaux (The Wall Street Journal).
  3. Notable and Quotable“, from The Globe and Mail (The Wall Street Journal).