Education, Railways, 1968, Names, War


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The Case Against Education

Scott Aaronson | Shtetl-Optimized | 26th April 2018

Discussion of Bryan Caplan’s argument that higher education is mostly about signalling, not about learning. “Employers want smart workers who will also show up on time, turn in the work they’re supposed to, and jump through whatever hoops authorities put in front of them. The main purpose of school, over and above certifying intelligence, is to serve as a hugely costly and time-consuming — and therefore reliable — signal that the graduates are conscientious conformists” (4,900 words)

Railway Failures

Sher Ali Khan | Herald | 30th April 2018

If you want to know everything about the railways in Pakistan, read on. If not, pass by. In brief: The whole system is a shambles. Half the trains don’t work, the others move at a crawl. Crashes are frequent, death-tolls are high, workers live miserably. “The rail between Sukkur and Quetta still uses the British-era signal system that employs kerosene lanterns on signal posts and a token, passed from one group of the signal staff to the next, to ensure that there are no gaps in communication” (12,600 words)

Power To The Imagination

Claus Leggewie | New York Review Of Books | 3rd May 2018

Daniel Cohn-Bendit looks back on Paris in 1968. “The feeling we had in those days was: We’re making history. An exalted feeling. Suddenly, we had become agents in world history. Not an easy thing to process when you’re only twenty-three years old. The revolt was far more American in origin than the Europeans cared to admit, spurred by the idea of a counterculture mainly carried via rock music. ‘Woodstock Nation’: That was the myth of a new America, and we were all for it” (4,100 words)

How Chinese Parents Name Their Babies

Fan Liya | Sixth Tone | 4th May 2018

In 2014 around 290,000 Chinese newborns — almost the population of Iceland — were registered with the name 张伟 (Zhang Wei). A family hoping for sons may name a daughter 招娣 (Zhaodi), “beckoning a younger brother”. Names evoke historical events: During the Korean War, many boys were called 援朝 (Yuanchao), or “assisting North Korea”. Traditional names are strongly gendered, but unisex names are becoming more popular — for example, 晨熙 (Chenxi), or “morning sun” (1,050 words)

Why Men Love War

William Broyles | Esquire | 23rd May 2014

“War is a brutal, deadly game, but a game, the best there is. And men love games. You can come back from war broken in mind or body, or not come back at all. But if you come back whole you bring with you the knowledge that you have explored regions of your soul that in most men will always remain uncharted. Nothing I had studied was as complex or as creative as the small-unit tactics of Vietnam. No sport brought me to such deep awareness of my physical and emotional limits” (6,500 words)

Video of the day Lattice

What to expect:

Iridescent waves and spiralling patterns found in a crystal’s microscopic structure (2’41”)

Thought for the day

Nothing important comes with instructions
James Richardson

Podcast Gander International Airport | 99% Invisible

Fidel Castro sledged here. Frank Sinatra drank in the lounge. Gander Airport is a time-capsule from the 1950s
(26m 18s)

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