LinkedIn has a nifty feature that shows the commuting distance to a given workplace. It also asks, “How do you prefer to commute to work?” Well, since I would prefer to walk, I selected that option, so now I can see that a 43 minute drive would be a 7 hour, 46 minute walk.

BBC Radio Essays

I would lie awake late at night listening to the BBC World Service on my shortwave radio, sometimes guided by a printed program guide, but more often than not taking things as they come, which is one does with broadcast media. One of the more interesting tidbits, to my inquisitive teenage ears, was a regular essay. Turns out The Essay, or its kin, still exists, is broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and can be streamed online.

I listened to the series on paying attention —you may have noticed that attention is a particular bugbear of mine—last year around this time, and spent some time yesterday in forests.

Today, I think I’ll visit ancient Wales.

Oops

The details of the scandal the Justice Department uncovered are notable not because rich people try to buy their way into higher education, but because these particular rich people went about it all wrong.

Libby Nelson, Vox

Or, as The New York Times wrote in their editorial on the subject:

But this case is not a defense of meritocracy in college admissions. What the government actually is defending is private property — the right of the colleges to make their own decisions about admissions, and collect the payments.

The key distinction here is not just the amount of money, but the recipient. A donation is made to a college, while a bribe is paid to an employee who, in effect, is stealing an admissions slot, hawking it and pocketing the proceeds. (To comply with tax laws, donors also cannot engage in an explicit quid pro quo with a college. The well-rehearsed pas de deux of donations and admissions must be made to appear as a voluntary exchange of gifts, not a binding deal.)

And Frank Bruni is as shocked as everyone else is to find gambling going on in Casablanca.

But let’s pretend for a moment that nobility, aristocracy, and meritocracy are not synonyms for plutocracy, and study for next month’s SAT.

I suddenly felt as though I’d failed a test I didn’t know I was taking. 

Rainesford Stauffer

RE/Search

I’ve been browsing around the Internet while sitting in this meeting that doesn’t require my attention, and became curious about whether RE/Search is still around. Looks like it is. There’s even a Twitter account.

Even more astonishing is that the copy I had on J. G. Ballard was last selling for $70. I didn’t much care for it, and discarded it while emptying the Too Big House for sale in 2014. I wonder if I still have my copy of #11: Pranks! around here….

RE/Search #8/9: J. G. Ballard

Revisions Needed

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Anonymous

I came across, by way of a footnote on Jason Kottke’s piece on clam gardens, an interesting review of Sam Arbesman‘s work on the half-life of facts, which apparently can be described mathematically. How long will it be before the conventional wisdom is neither conventional nor wisdom?

Mr. Kottke notes,

I’m guessing most people reading this learned in school that the Americas were sparsely populated and almost pristine before Columbus showed up, but subsequent research over the past 20 years has shown that this is very much not the case.

I should ask my kids what the kids are learning these days. I’m sure Pearson has had little incentive to update the standard texts, even though William Cronon’s Changes in the Land was published 36 years ago, in 1983. Though evidence certainly abounded before then, it was news to me when I read Changes in the Land in 1990 or so.

Update: JSTOR Daily, in “Yes, Americans Owned Land Before Columbus,” notes that our understanding of the indigenous understanding of property has changed over time, and points out Allen Greer’s “Commons and Enclosure in the Colonization of North America.” The American Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 2, 2012, pp. 365–386.

The Consumer Wins?

BBC Business Daily discusses 21st Century Monopolies with the Jonathan Tepper, author of The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition, and some others. Tepper talks about the need to deal with regulatory capture and the perks of revolving doors. Sounds familiar.

Alex Moazed, one of the other guests, says that the Internet monopolies are different, non-traditional monopolies, because the consumer wins–because pricing power is not exerted over the consumer, but the producer.

Which makes me wonder, when did we start thinking of the consumer and the producer as two separate and distinct people, and not aspects of a person? Or, how can I buy if I don’t sell?