Saturday, December 11, 2021

David French's Belated And Powerful Thanksgiving Message: War, Adoption, And God's Faithfulness

David French's Belated And Powerful Thanksgiving Message: War, Adoption, And God's Faithfulness

Jenny Erpenbeck, Aller Tage Abend [The End of Days].  The first quarter of this book I thought it was amazing, a candidate for one of the better novels of the last thirty years.  But as the pages passed, it slipped ever more into various sentimental cliches about the tragedies of German 20th century history.  Frustrating, and I fear the author’s success will make it harder to get back on the right track?

2. T.R. Fehrenbach, Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans.  Almost certainly the very best book on the history of Texas, and also one of the very best books on the USA and the history of the southwest, especially pre-1870.  The writing is dramatic, many segments are vivid, and the book (1980) precedes the cult of political correctness.  If you wish to read a semi-libertarian defense of how the United States obtained Texas (or do I have that backwards?), this is the place to go.  725 pp.  In 1880, Galveston was the largest settlement in Texas.  And here is a good sentence: “Because poor people settled the West, the frontier was always in debt.”

3. Peter Doggett, Growing Up: Sex in the Sixties.  A book more of substance than sensationalism, that said the substance is one of sensation.  An excellent cultural history, and it also drives home the point that things back then really were not so great, matters sexual included.  The focus is on Britain, but the coverage is global.

4. Joe Posnanski, The Baseball 100.  A very long (827 pp.) and thorough look at who might be the best baseball players of all time.  Entertaining, and I have relatively few gripes.  Given that Babe Ruth was a first-rate pitcher, should he really be #2 to Willie Mays at #1?  Oscar Charleston is at #5, but I might have put Satchel Paige there.  I can’t bring myself to put Tris Speaker ahead of Mike Schmidt, and Cy Young doesn’t do as well as you might think.  Pete Rose and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are not canceled, but are allowed to take their rightful places in the rankings.  Recommended, for those who care.

I won’t have time to do more than browse Naomi Oreskes’s Science on a Mission: How Military funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know about the Ocean.  But it appears to be an entirely serious book about the government funding of science, a drmatically understudied topic area.

How to fix social media? Start with independent research.

Brookings: “…The system of APIs set up by Twitter over the past decade—most of which were set up for business purposes as opposed to research—led to a flowering of academic research using Twitter data. And to be very clear, Twitter deserves kudos for making so much data available, including specialized collections around Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) trolls and COVID-19. However, even the data that Twitter makes accessible to outside researchers has left out information that is crucial for academic research, such as data about which users have seen which tweets, known as “exposure data,” or even by how many users have seen each tweet. Therefore, understanding which tweets and associated news items reach which classes of people remains an area of inquiry that outsiders to Twitter cannot investigate. Moreover, some data, such as friends and follower networks, have become harder to collect at scale over time as new API access rules are rolled out with new rate limits governing how often researchers can access the API. Nevertheless, because more research has been performed on Twitter than any other platform, our understanding of the relationship of social media to online harms is highly biased toward what is occurring on that particular platform…To break through the logjam, we need federal legislation.  That legislation, such as the Platform Transparency and Accountability Actproposed by one of the authors (Persily), could come in many forms but it should have three essential characteristics.  First, a federal agency must be empowered to force the large internet platforms to share data akin to what firm insiders are able to access with outsiders not selected by the firm. Second, that agency (perhaps working with a nongovernmental organization or another arm of the federal government, such as the National Science Foundation) should vet researchers and research projects that will be given access to platform data Third, data should reside at the firm, and regulations should specify in detail the process for accessing data and publishing results in a way that would not endanger user privacy…”

1. “A man in northern Italy brought a silicone arm to his COVID-19 vaccination in an attempt to obtain a green pass without actually getting the vaccine.

2. The Rubell DC museum is taking shape.

3. Amazon wage hikes spill over to other firms.

4. Good interview with Ariel Pakes.

5. Poll data on which countries get drunk the most.

6. Glen Weyl thread.

7. Paul McCartney as founder