Friday, February 10, 2017

Four Points to Begin the Weekend

  1. Here's a really long blog post (I mean a "think of the longest blog post you'd be comfortable reading and then triple it" really long blog post) about how Americans are paying four times as much for everything but getting the same quality of services. Scott Alexander, the writer, ends with a series of possible explanations. I would add maybe one more: mission creep. Schools aren't just schools anymore, they offer meals and child care and psychological counselling, among other things. And the same is true of hospitals, universities, and every other public service. But that can't explain why building a subway in America costs almost seven times what it costs in Germany. America is broken, but the Trump sideshow isn't going to fix anything.
  2. In Uneasy Money by P.G. Wodehouse, an auto manufacturer who is always thinking in terms of cars has his attention for a gorgeous woman described as "experienc[ing] disturbing emotions when he beheld her perfect tonneau and wonderful headlights," which is pretty cheeky for a novel from 1916. It made me laugh.
  3. Speaking of Uneasy Money, I'm frustrated by this portion. A woman named Elizabeth has a brother nicknamed Nutty. Nutty meets a man named Bill and they go to dinner in a restaurant, where a woman named Lady Wetherby performs a dance she calls Dream of Psyche. Later the narrator tells us
    In her heart Elizabeth knew perfectly well that this was because Nutty, when in the presence of the bees, lost his head completely and behaved like an exaggerated version of Lady Wetherby's Dream of Psyche, whereas Bill maintained an easy calm....
    I don't like that it seems Elizabeth knows that Nutty's behavior is like Lady Wetherby's dance, since Elizabeth has never seen the dance.
  4. Here's a fun paper: "College As Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students' Preferences for Consumption?" Spoiler alert: yes. But it's not like you couldn't figure this out on your own, right?

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