Links and Books, April 2021

Posted on 30 Apr 2021 by Steve Markham


  • Paper on sugar/gut/cognition in rats. I think the experiment was to let some rats drink sugar water as much as they wanted when young, then measure neuro stuff as adults. In rats with the worst neuro outcomes, measure the gut microbiome. Then in a fresh batch of health adult rats, insert extra bacteria of the kind that was over-present in the sugared rats. Then measure whether those rats saw neuro decline. That would be pretty strong evidence that the effect of the sugar on the brain goes via the microbiome, and indeed that’s what they seem to have found. Seems like a big experiment, meaning non-trivial to replicate. But it’s interesting!
  • Premature Panic in the WSJ Op-Ed pages from the author of Panic Attack. The title is “Dr. Fauci, Tear Off These Masks” but the first paragraph makes clear that even the author thinks is it not safe to remove masks (yet). She compares present COVID rates with worst-case flu rates, finds that COVID is still 4x worse, and somehow manages to keep writing about how overblown the COVID response has been. It’s entirely possible that Fauci continues supporting mask mandates far beyond when they are appropriate. The time to complain about that is after they are no longer appropriate. I don’t mean to pick on this author in particular, she simply represents an attitude I hear from many people IRL. There’s plenty wrong with the world right now, so if you want to be upset, be upset. No need to for hypothetical future scenarios as a basis.
  • Paul Graham’s take on the Forbes billionaire list
  • SSC’s take on the Honduran charter city Prospera “Interested? All you need to do is sign the social contract, pay the membership fee, get Honduran residency (they promise it’s pretty easy, and they have lawyers who can help) and you’re good to go. Wait, sign the social contract? Yes. Contra your Political Science professor, there’s a literal social contract which you literally sign. [snip] In case demand ever exceeds supply, HPI is already reaching out to NGOs that work with Honduran refugees trying to illegally immigrate to America. They plan to see if they can convince these people to legally immigrate to Próspera instead (“Hey, we heard you liked jobs and capitalism…”)”
  • Little MM’s documentary on American public schools
  • Jiu Jitsu for Police?. Why yes, I would like the department to send cops to weekly martial arts training, net save money on workers compensation claims, have fewer injured cops, fewer taser deployments, and fewer hospitalized suspects, thank you for asking.


  • Untangled by Lisa Damour. Loved it, highly recommended to any parent.
  • Little House on the Prairie.
  • The Bear and the Dragon by Tom Clancy. Slow start, but I need a new prolific author to get audiobooks from, and Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan seems like it might scratch the same itch as Lee Child/Jack Reacher. It’s probably better if you read the series in order, so next up will be The Hunt for Red October. I’ve seen the movies many times, but never read the book. If it’s anything like Jack Reacher, the book will be even better than the very good movie.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
  • The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. Didn’t finish it (eBooks are harder to get through than audiobooks, especially when you’ve already seen the movie).
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • Farmer Boy. (Not finished yet)
  • Feeling Good by David Burns. (Not finished yet)
  • Seven and a half Lessons about the Brain by Lisa Feldman. (Not finished yet)


  • Roy Williams: “If the mailman stopped to kick every dog that barked at him, he’d never deliver the mail.” (h/t Morning Brew)
  • Lord Voldemort: “There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”
  • Ender Wiggin: “The power to cause pain is the only power that matters … because if you can’t kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you.”
  • Donald Regin: “Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.” (If these last three quotes make you nervous, don’t worry, the LV one came up in Sacramanet Mtg, and then I came across the other two while it was on my mind. I don’t agree with them, I just think they’re interesting and funny.)