Links from the last week

1. Why Lansing is investing in bitcoin

Actually a nice local news article about bitcoin, for people interested in the subject.  On an odd note:

When the Lansing Board of Water & Light was compromised with ransomware in April 2016, hackers demanded they pay a $25,000 ransom in bitcoin to unlock its systems. The bitcoins were bought at a bitcoin ATM outside of the Lansing area.

We paid?  And, even more oddly, we bought the bitcoins from a bitcoin ATM?

2. Induced Earthquakes: Myths and Misconceptions

Nice little post from USGS, especially to say – it isn’t fracking, per se, causing the induced earthquakes, it’s wastewater injection, and only certain types (injection rate for example) of wastewater injection.

Most injection wells are not associated with felt earthquakes. A combination of many factors is necessary for injection to induce felt earthquakes. These include: the injection rate and total volume injected; the presence of faults that are large enough to produce felt earthquakes; stresses that are large enough to produce earthquakes; and the presence of pathways for the fluid pressure to travel from the injection point to faults.

3. The Rolling Revolution in Sex and Gender: A History

Worthwhile and pretty matter-of-fact attempt to trace the intellectual history of currently popular ideas about gender identity.

Subverting norms unites queer theory to transgender rights. For her understanding of norms, Butler relies especially on French post-structuralist philosopher Michel Foucault. Foucault shows how society imposes norms subtly, by constructing “truth” and “reality”; social norms come to constitute a theory of what categories one must fit into to be human. These expectations, Butler believes, must be exposed as artificial so that a more open and “queer” future can arise. In Butler’s technical language, Foucault exposes the “mechanism of coercion” behind the modern preference for heterosexual sex in the hopes of liberating a more polymorphous expression of sexual desire.

4. Departing AP reporter looks back at Venezuela’s slide

Truly remarkable personal tale of Venezuela’s rapid descent.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro blames the U.S. and right-wing business interests for the economic collapse, but most economists say it actually stems from government-imposed price and currency distortions. There often seemed to be a direct line between economic policy and daily hardship. One week, the administration declared that eggs would now be sold for no more than 30 cents a carton. The next week, eggs had disappeared from supermarkets, and still have not come back.

5. How Airlines Schedule Flights

I cannot entirely attest to its accuracy, but a neat video about how airlines schedule flights, especially as regards hub usage.

6. Grade Inflation, Higher and Higher

Grade inflation continues at four-year-colleges – but GPA’s actually peaked at community colleges just after 2000 and have been on a slow decline since then.

7. To Defend Public Schools, the Hard Left Puts On the Tinfoil Hat

The acceptance and availability of private and homeschooling in America is the best thing we have going for ourselves as a country.

This week brought to you by car shows in Lansing, Michigan.

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Links I liked, 4/27/15 – 5/3/15 (Evangelicalism, Vietnam, Exoworlds).

Hello after a long time – I have decided to reboot the blog in a low-key manner.  All of this stuff has been shared this week on my Twitter – but I realized that when I’m mobile, I generally find stuff to read via blogs through the Pulse app on my phone.  What about other people like me?  So I’m going to try sharing, once a week, links I found interesting the previous week, with some small comments from me.  In no particular order then…

1. All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Evangelicalism

Matthew Milliner, a former Wheaton College undergraduate, describes his disenchantment with some of the shallowness of evangelicalism (e.g., worship songs that feel like rebooted pop songs).  But then, reading old mystics of Catholic and Orthodox fame, he is surprised to find much of the same (e.g. finding words to express their praise of God in the secular poetry of the day) and comes to appreciate where he came from.  And now he teaches at Wheaton.

2. Last Days in Vietnam

A good, and sad, two-hour-long PBS documentary recommended by someone over at Ace of Spades blog.

3. 20 Exoworlds are now available for naming proposals

If you have an “astronomy-interested” club or organization, you can submit a name for one of twenty discovered exoplanets.  Proposals will then be voted upon (following some screening, I’d imagine).

4. The Wild Ideas of Social Conservatives

A nice piece by Russ Douthat.  He makes a point I’ve made before that we are now at a place where if something cannot be easily quantified, then it doesn’t exist to us (especially when it comes to setting public policy).  But his bigger point here is “isn’t it strange that we keep ridiculing the predictions of social conservatives when in fact they’ve built up a pretty good track record over the last 50 years or so?”

5. What if Students Could Fire Their Professors?

A little article via Sarah Brodsky mainly shared for its observation that students who have poorly rated (by them) professors often do better in later courses – nobody likes a taskmaster.

6. SpaceX mile-high escape test will feature ‘Buster’ the dummy

The SpaceX crew capsule will have an escape system – the Space Shuttle didn’t have that.

7. MI lawmaker pushes state home school registry

Interesting reasoning here I thought – essentially argues that one of the reasons we need public schools is because it gets children away from their parents for a time and we can may sure everything is OK at home.  Since we can’t do that for homeschooled students we need a registry.  (Never going to happen with the current MI legislature.)  Also I had not seen an estimate before – perhaps 3% of Michigan students homeschooled.  I would have put it higher.

Bec enjoying a flower

And now here is Bec enjoying a flower in East Lansing.