Sentences to Ponder


1. It pays to increase your word power

“When it comes to vocabulary, size matters. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. observed that vocabulary ‘is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities.’ It signals competence in reading and writing and correlates with SAT success—which, in turn, predicts the likelihood of college attendance, graduation, and the associated wage premium that has been fetishized by education reformers and driven their agenda for decades.”

Much I agreed with in this piece, much I was unsure about – will blog on it later.

2. Who wants to buy a politician? 

“One reason is that buying elections is economically inefficient. Most voters, like most consumers, have defined preferences that are difficult for advertisers to shift … They [corporations] spend around 10 times as much on lobbying, suggesting that it’s less effective to influence the selection of policy makers than to influence the policy-making process itself.”

Because of points above, I’ve never cared too much about campaign giving laws. I find a lot of the debates to be an exercise in mood affiliation. Lobbying, on the other hand, seems to be a trickier issue.

3. The vanishing male worker

“Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.”

Note: how much better is the Upshot than the median NYT article? 5x? 10x?

4. Does entropy explain why life exists?

“He derived a generalization of the second law of thermodynamics that holds for systems of particles with certain characteristics: The systems are strongly driven by an external energy source such as an electromagnetic wave, and they can dump heat into a surrounding bath. This class of systems includes all living things. England then determined how such systems tend to evolve over time as they increase their irreversibility. ‘We can show very simply from the formula that the more likely evolutionary outcomes are going to be the ones that absorbed and dissipated more energy from the environment’s external drives on the way to getting there, he said… Self-replication (or reproduction, in biological terms), the process that drives the evolution of life on Earth, is one such mechanism by which a system might dissipate an increasing amount of energy over time.”

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