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Self in Society Roundup 29

Lookism, alcohol, absent from school, women in chess, AI books, and more.

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
September 2, 2023; ported here on January 15, 2024

Marginal Revolution: Congratulations to Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen for 20 years of their very-successful economics blog! I enjoyed the video.

Cancelled: Laura Jedeed knows "cancellation" is a real phenomenon, and she has some advice for those unfairly targeted.

Department of Arbitrary Justice: Tabarrok: "The DOJ is suing SpaceX for focusing its hiring on US citizens and permanent residents. . . . The lawsuit is bizarre. I am sure Elon would be happy to hire some refugees from the Russian space program. So why does SpaceX advertise that only US citizens and lawful permanent residents can apply for some jobs? Because that's what they understand the law requires . . ."

Lookism? William D'Alessandro: "Preferring attractive partners is bad." My take: Obviously, obsessing over looks is stupid. But we're biologically primed to find certain things and people attractive, and there's nothing wrong with taking natural preferences into account, particularly when seeking a romantic partner. Also, it's hardly as though looks are just a given; a person's attractiveness depends largely on that person's choices and actions. Someone who exercises, eats a healthy diet, and practices basic hygiene will look relatively nicer; someone who smokes meth will look relatively terrible.

Covid in Sweden: Johan Norberg points out (at Twitter and Cato) that Sweden fared pretty well through Covid despite its relatively light restrictions. Others have pointed out that Sweden also had high vaccination rates.

Strip Clubs: A study that claims they reduce sexual crimes is bullshit.

Alcohol: Other things equal, alcohol is worse for women than for men. I do worry about correlation-causation problems; some people who drink more also have other poor health practices.

Schools: AP: "[One woman's] son told her he overheard a teacher mocking his learning disabilities, calling him an ugly name. Her son didn't want to go to school anymore. And she didn't feel he was safe there. He would end up missing more than five months of sixth grade. Across the country, students have been absent at record rates since schools reopened during the pandemic. More than a quarter of students missed at least 10% of the 2021-22 school year, making them chronically absent, according to the most recent data available. Before the pandemic, only 15% of students missed that much school."

Hanania: Cathy Young is not impressed by his apology. "In January and February 2022, Hanania was arguing that Putin's Russia was morally superior to the United States and that Western liberals were demonizing Vladimir Putin because of their obsession with LGBT rights."

Chess: Here's a headline from Erin Reed: "International Chess Org: Trans Women Have 'No Right To Participate' In Women's Chess." My first thought is, why is there women's chess? Unlike with boxing or biking or other highly physical sports, there's no inherent advantage to being born male. Unless you want to argue that men have inherently superior minds for chess (on average)—and no one I know of wants to argue that—gendered divisions in chess make no sense. Reminder: In physical sports, I'd like to see gender-based divisions replaced by divisions directly based on physical differences, such as muscle mass.

AI Books: Axios: "Searches on Amazon—estimated to control at least half of all U.S. book sales, and an even bigger share of the growing e-book market—are increasingly turning up mediocre AI-generated titles filled with unreliable information and soggy prose." Buyer beware. If Amazon is serious about maintaining its market it will fix this.

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