A sprint toward the finish line for my dissertation fieldwork and a legally-mandated holiday in South Africa substantially cut down on my ability to post links and commentary here. So in the spirit of Boxing Day discounts, here are a eight great articles from the past month or so, for the price of one.
1) Some reassuring news from Slate: yes, your dog would eat your dead body. Of course your cat would do the same.
2) John Quijada invented his own language, built to be perfectly precise and free of ambiguity. It was co-opted by a cultlike group of Russians obsessed with perfecting their thoughts in order to perfect their bodies (shades of Dianetics) and things only get weirder after that.
3) An animation by Josh Blumenstock showing the movements of a single Rwandan based on the mobile phone tower she/he was using at any given time. From my own research, I am convinced that rural Africans are not only far more mobile than I would have assumed, but might move around more than Americans.
4) While riding the subway to a performance (!), Jay-Z humbly explains who he is to an adorable old lady, who turns out to be Ellen Grossman, an artist in her own right.
5) Alison of The Girl’s Guide to Law School takes law school deans to task for bullshitting prospective law students about many things, especially salaries. In so doing she points out something that I did not know: the distribution of starting salaries for lawyers is bimodal. This means that neither the arithmetic mean nor the median salary are particularly informative – the right way to think about this is that you have X probability of having a salary between roughly $25,000 and $80,000 (with an average around $50K), Y probability of having a salary of $160,000+, and (1-X-Y) probability of falling somewhere in between, where (1-X-Y) looks, to my eye, to be pretty small.
6) Tucked away at the end of this article on Malawian business groups complaining about the currency losing value against the dollar is the hilarious but distressing note that the Reserve Bank of Malawi’s publicist had to go to the media to explain that “depreciation or appreciation of the kwacha is as a result of market forces.”
7) Tom Pepinsky at Indolaysia points out the best explanation we have for shitty policies in Indonesia is shitty politicians, and that this theory is itself fairly shitty.
8) Faced with incessant complaints about wait times at its baggage claim, the Houston Airport responded by putting the baggage claim farther away, so that people spent the wait walking to the carousel rather than staring at it; complaints nearly ceased.
#1 via a comment thread on reddit, #2 via Melody Dye, #3 via Justin Schon, #s 4 & 8 also via reddit probably. #6 I stumbled across when doing research for my post on Malawi’s alleged foreign exchange shortage and couldn’t resist sharing.