Weekly Newsletter

January 18, 2015

Education

The Unappreciated Success of Charter Schools
Convincingly argues for charter schools’ effectiveness at educating underpriviliged students.

Mind and Brain

Postcards from the Edge of Consciousness
Describes the experience of sensory deprivation and the biological mechanisms it activates.

Muscle Strength is in the Mind
Summarizes a recent study with results indicating that imagining muscular contractions affects the strength of the muscles involved. I’ve skimmed through the original study paper, and the methodology seems sound.

Economics

Why Not Sell Cities?
Questions why we don’t privatize cities. Robin Hanson (the author) is one of my two favorite econ writers (the other is Tyler Cowen), and this piece serves as a good introduction to how he thinks without getting too technical.

Ecosystems

The goats fighting America’s plant invasion
Profiles Brian Knox and his Eco Goats, a team fighting the relentless onslaught of weeds, which is slowly destroying our country’s vegetation. Short, but interesting. This article’s definitely related to the later article on American entrepreneurship.

Ebola

Did Sierra Leone’s Hero Doctor have to Die?
Tells the story of Dr. Khan, the head of a major Sierra Leone hospital ward, who died from Ebola. The author doesn’t answer the title question. Rather, he narrates Khan’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death, but leaves the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.

Other Contributions

American Entrepreneurship: Dead or Alive? (Will Baird)
Baird’s description:

“In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of this piece is Jim Clifton’s differentiation between innovation and entrepreneurship. People often conflate the terms in discussions about business and economics, but Clifton’s data give compelling support to his argument that their differing importance has been overlooked, and that we must focus on entrepreneurship if we want the economy to continue to grow.”

Beyond Josh Lyman Politics: How the West Wing Miseducated My Political Generation (Paul Finkelstein)
Paul’s description:

This article is seriously awesome and puts in written words what I’ve thought about The West Wing and our generation of young politicos. If you can get over his unnecessarily detailed description of his time exposing Jim Messina at Harvard, the rest of the article is really well done. Anybody who has seen The West Wing should read this.

I want to add that I think much of the author’s commentary applies to House of Cards, although House of Cards does a better job of showing the downside of “wheeling and dealing” politics.

Discussion, links, and tweets

I'm a software developer currently working at UberEats. I keep a low social media presence, but, if you enjoy what I have to say or want to rant at me, you should email me at stephenmalina@gmail.com. If you're interested in what I'm currently programming, check out my Github. I occasionally rant on Twitter as well.