Sunday assorted links

1. Mistakes people make with publishing academic books.

2. What makes a McMansion bad architecture?  Great piece.

3. Why so many lottery jackpots this year? (NYT)

4. The US and UK versions of Cloud Atlas are quite different.

5. So far the worst predictions about Brazil’s Olympics have not come true.  And which are the most popular Olympic sports?  I didn’t know people enjoy watching volleyball so much.

6. “The FDA wants to make it harder to buy and sell poop.”  Are the pro-choice forces lining up against this one?  I hope they will.  There is in fact a new saying “My colon. My choice.”  You don’t even have to worry about the status of the fetus…

Comments

#5 A team sport with lots of points and action (unlike soccer, a bit like basketball). Much variety in terms of shots / ways to score points. Very enjoyable to watch...

They should make the nets higher for professionals though: there would be longer rallies.

I enjoy it, but I don't think it's watched that much outside of the Olympics

Do they use a specially designated defensive player in regular non-beach volleyball still? Seems bizarre but I've read that; these players are not allowed to make offensive moves, are often shorter than the rest of the team, and merely set up the other players (according to the rules, not according to strategy).

You will notice that one of the players will be shorter than the rest and often have a different looking uniform. This is the setter. This player is not specifically defensive though. They will make the second shot, the set, and another member of the team will then spike the ball to the other side.

Durring a rally, when the other side wants to spike, the tall players will attempt to block and the setter will defend against balls that get past the blockers and go to the mid court.

The player with different looking uniform is the Libero, not the Setter. Libero is a defensive position, and only plays in back positions, usually the middle one. The uniform has a different color so the referee can differentiate them from the other players, that'ss because he can replace any back position any time the ball is not in play and is not bound by rotation rules. The Libero usually sets the ball if the Setter is absent or touched the ball first, but can only do it behind the line. The Libero cannot block or attack above the net (i.e spike).

I stand corrected. Though in my defense (and giving away my age) the Libero did not exist as a position back then.

Arg! Back then, meaning when I played vollyball.

"I can't understand why the sport with close-ups of barely clothed people with model physiques is popular."

I can't stand to watch women's volleyball for more than a few minutes. The constant team huddling and cheering each other after every point - even when the other team wins the point - is silly and too much for me. It's a waste of time. Just get back into position and serve...or be ready for the other team's serve. Ridiculous. I even watched the Chinese ladies do it too, and since when do mainland Chinese people hug and kiss so much? They're content when their stomachs are full.

So the men's 100m dash in track is the peak event of the Olympics?

That sounds right.

I've spent more time studying 100m dash results than anything else over the years: 72 straight black finalists from 1984 through 2016, the single most amazing number in human biodiversity studies.

Vicaut isn't black. Regardless, bring back Allan Wells.

And 72 straight black finalists? I'm sure one of them must have been gay :)

I'm a season ticket holder for U of Wisconsin's women's volleyball team. Inexpensive ticket, loads of action, great athletes, super family friendly, great crowd.

What's NOT to like?

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#3

So why is gambling generally illegal in the U.S. ----when it's crystal clear that state governments are vigorously promoting gambling via lotteries ??

Just another example of the deep corruption in our political and justice system.

I think you can lay the blame much wider than just politics and criminal justice, Americans are deeply conflicted about gambling and it shows.

According to Gallup's 2015 "Values and Beliefs Survey", Americans think gambling is OK by about a 2 to 1 margin.

(Gambling is Morally Acceptable -- 67% | Gambling Morally Wrong -- 27%)

But that doesn't explain the formal legal issue of why government gambling operations are legal and praiseworthy, but private gambling operations are usually felonies.

Also, that NYTimes reference says those lottery state government work very hard to get even "more" people to gamble (via bigger jackpots, while simultaneously reducing the odds of winning).

The House Always Wins

In Georgia, the state lottery profits are used to fund the Hope Scholarship, which provides full tuition reimbursement to students with at least marginally good grades who attend Georgia public universities. This scholarship makes the Georgia lottery very popular among voters. Do other states earmark funds to popular causes in the same way?

Hogwash. Money is fungible. If this is a worthwhile good and citizens demanded it would be funded by the government anyway. All earmarking gambling money for the most publicly popular causes does is free up money from other sources--taxes--to be spent on pet projects and other things that face higher scrutiny.

Funny, because a 2:1 ratio sounds like something that would create a fair amount of gambling, still disguised as exception to the old no gambling rules.

"But that doesn’t explain the formal legal issue of why government gambling operations are legal and praiseworthy, but private gambling operations are usually felonies."

Here are some possible reasons:

(1) Government special interest groups are just better at keeping their concentrated benefits than are private-sector special interest groups, perhaps because the people involved have a better understanding of how to "work" government. Besides the gambling monopoly, public-sector unions seem to be stronger than private-sector unions. Government schools also seem to have protected their near-monopoly from school choice reasonably well so far.

(2) The "Occupy" Effect: one political faction just seems to be ideologically opposed to private profit, regardless of the general public good. They are much bothered by private firms earning profits from gambling, even if such private competition results in higher payout rates, i.e., lower cost, to gamblers. They would rather (disproportionately low-income) gamblers lose more money than allow private firms to profit from such gambling. Maybe, gambling is one area where these Occupy "Baptists" have allied with government "bootleggers" to garner just enough support to maintain government gambling monopolies.

(3) Some people are fooled by the framing that state gambling profits are "earmarked" for education, as @JT mentions. Such earmarking is fiction because money is fungible. Lottery money merely reduces the allocation from general funds.

(4) Raising taxes transparently is politically difficult. It's easier to pass an implicit tax increase in the form of a monopoly granted to government, where the hidden tax is the monopoly profits gained by the government. Another example might be the community-rating requirements of Obamacare, where the taxes take the form of insurance premiums that are higher than would exist without community rating, which can in turn be used to (implictly) pay subsidies to those with lower insurance premiums. Yet a third example would be indirectly taxing the poor by imposing tariffs or other trade restrictions on the imported cheap goods that they buy, such as goods produced in China for sale at Walmart.

I am one of the people who do not object to government lotteries but see private gambling as run by organized crime, so do not like it. This may be because I have seen "The Godfather " movies too many times, but I think I am not the alone in caring who gets the profits.

Bad example in number 4
The more you spend on tradable goods the greater the benefits from trade and poor people who shop at walmart have little left to buy stuff after the pay for food and housing, and trade probably makes food cost more. However trade makes the I-phone etc cheaper.

I'd like the state to sponsor a zero-sum lottery -- the stakes are precisely equal to the odds. This would provide an outlet for compulsive gamblers to satisfy their urges while at the same time not bankrupting them. On average, they'd neither gain nor lose. I'd also want there to be many more prizes of lesser amounts. The lottery should not be a pump for increasing income inequality, at least not greatly so.

Suppose you legalized zero sum slot machines. Any business could install them, but they have to be zero sum. Starbucks and McDonalds, bars, any place that wants traffic would put them in. They would be inexpensive to build - just a computer and screen - and run from debit cards.

Would they be popular? Do gamblers care that the house always wins?

Yes, I did think of that too. It would be great for bars. They would make their money from drinks and tips, and the slot machines would just be the draw to get people in. There is a problem in insuring the machines are honest. If you have inspectors, then somehow you have to pay the inspectors. There would have to be something like a bar tax to pay the inspectors.

From talking to waiters and floor managers at Australian pubs, it seems the status quo is the other way around. The slot machines are what really pulls in the money at hotels and bars etc.

If the slot machines were not allowed to make any money, the oeprator would have to re-optimise everything back around food and drink. That might mean the machines have to go, whether because of the floor space they take up, or because of their effect on the ambience.

Savings accounts with "lotteries" for interest already exist in South Africa.

I like the state lottery system better than I like the law in some states, where politically connected billionaires and fake Indians can make an enormous amount of profit by providing a harmful service that only they are allowed to provide. Public monopolies are better than private ones.

I think the odd design of McMansions is just supposed to trick the eye into thinking they are bigger than they are. Interestingly, some chain restaurants use a flip of the same rules to try to make a large commercial building appear small and homey.

Yes, McMansions remind me of Greek "Byzantine" style architecture, which is stuff superimposed on top of other stuff. Makes for an eyesore, but if it's 500 years old it's a pleasant eyesore.

That's the thing. Personally, I like that style - I find it more visually interesting than the 'proper' box designs the author holds up as what 'should be done. He's holding up 'large box with very few windows' as good design - and it may be good *functional* design, but its not exactly a house you'd look twice at if you passed by. And as you point out - really old buildings done like this are art, really new ones are signs of tacky new money.

Plus, I think he misunderstands what 'McMansion' is supposed to be. To my understanding its a very large house on an undersized lot. None of the houses he shows as examples of 'bad design' are that and they would be difficult to be labeled as eyesores when most of them would barely be visible from the street.

Some of the top hits on Google are fine, some are pretty ugly to my eye:

https://www.google.com/search?q=mcmansion&prmd=inv&source=lnms&tbm=isch

I think "big house on small lot" is not even the right understanding of the term McMansion, which is supposed to evoke McDonald- a mass produced, low quality, large home. If you think about the extreme of the lot filling house, you get the townhouse, which is somehow beloved by the cosmopolitan fetishists, as they have them in Manhattan.

As far as this author's view on McMansion- he seems to instead be just picking on homes that are asymmetric, demanding everything be matchy-matchy. Sounds like the kind of person that criticizes actresses' dresses on the red carpet.

That's what I make of it anyways ..

I think people like the sound of the word "McMansion" so they use it to criticize whatever they don't like in newer houses, even if nobody quite agrees on what it means.

I dunno, the notion of criticizing obviously non-copied (if pretty bad) designs as "Mc" anything I think isn't the idea of "Mc". It's am almost standardized sort of unit, probably with some cliche low-effort upgrades, and certainly far from highest quality of materials or techniques in the structure or outside - although a pretty decent effort to landscape what uncovered land remains seems common.

I see them going up all over the north of Toronto. They are going up at least in the many hundreds per year, tearing down older moderate-sized houses on larger lots from when it was European immigrants moving there in the 1960s, etc., and replacing them with these "McMansions" - you might build 5-6000 square feet without going too high and still have a decent yard. So, what's 5000 square feet and a few manicured acres worth, a 45 minute commute from a pretty important financial centre?

So, you get all these accounting, banking, finance, pharma, etc. people, they've got their first few million (or qualify for a mortgage that big) and want a flash house, can't quite get the location in the countryside because it would be dumb for the commute. But, don't even really have that much time to enjoy the house or carefully plan everything about it, and run on criteria like "5000 sq ft. 3 full baths, 5 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, etc. etc." (surely anyone would set aside a bit of time for decision-making, but this isn't exactly working with a creative architect or something, this is the act of building a McMansion) and I think aren't that involved for things like "taste".

Of course, if they go for a drive through some particularly wealthy neighbourhoods, I'm sure just about any of them in a flash can recognized the difference between the $5-10 million properties of similar size to their own, as obviously far superior properties. I imagine they see themselves as practical when they opt for an additional 2000 sq ft instead of something nicer. It would make sense if you have 3 kids. But in the neighbourhoods I'm thinking of, I'd guess that the modal "McMansion" owner/builder is an Asian couple with little or no plans to have any more than one child, but is considering the possibility of any elderly family member maybe needing space as well (where the extra 2000 sq ft might look real good to impress the parents, for example). I'm quite sure that not even 1 in 10 would have more than 2 kids. And I've never seen any evidence of big parties or anything either. So, what's the point in an additional crappy 2000 ft when you could instead make something supremely awesome?

The economist's view though? Should probably be not much more than "to each their own".

Why shouldn't the main mass be smaller? I think it signifies that the private life (bedrooms, garage, den) is more important than the public (the public entrance hall, living room, dining room).

The McMansion article is well argued but he picks on some really bad examples of McM architecture as though they were typical. Typical McMs are simpler and incorporate more traditional elements, while hewing to the standard of huge-house-made- somewhat-cheaply-and-too-big-for-the-lot. He seems to be implying that if a big new house is at all tasteful it's not a McMansion, which is a No True Scotsman fallacy.

1.
"Mistake #4: Not doing more “publicity”
I think a lot of academics (especially those most vulnerable to imposter syndrome) struggle with the whole “self-promotion” thing. I’m not against self-promotion in theory, and I honestly admire the many friend-colleagues I know (shocker: mostly white guys) who promote the shit out of their new books with a seemingly endless stream of public lectures, well-placed op-eds, media appearances, and blog posts. "

I don't even know what to say in response to this.

Considering that up to 90% of scientific studies cannot be replicated, I guess it's no surprise that publicity is the name of the game in academics.

I believe the 90% number refers to social science.

One thing seems clear – the culture of replication in the physical sciences is a world apart from psychology, and many years ahead. Dr Katie Mack, astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne, says that in her field there are many situations where reproducing a result is considered essential for moving the area forward. “A major result produced by only one group, or with only one instrument, is rarely taken as definitive." Mack points out that even findings that have been replicated many times over are valued, such as the Hubble constant, which describes the rate of expansion of the Universe. “Many groups have measured it with many different methods (or in some cases the same method), and each new result is considered noteworthy and definitely publishable.” Like Czerski and Butterworth, Mack is adamant that a published method section should contain enough detail to repeat an experiment, without needing to consult with anyone. “If it doesn't, the paper will not be considered as good.”

the guardian

Thanks, but I bet the hierarchy of non-reproducible results (worst case to best case) is: social sciences, including psychiatry; medical science, including dietary science; physics/engineering; computer science; and finally, as hopefully the most reproducible science: mathematics. If you cannot reproduce a proof in math then your field is really sorry!

Considering that 80% of the time things are different next time than last time, it shouldn't be surprising if 90% of the time you can't prove they were the same. Although I'm sure problems are worse than this outlook might suggest ..

Most academics do very little promotion of their own work. It's why you've never heard of 99.99% of us.

I guess that's why the author is not familiar with Donald Knuth and his essays related to writing and publishing technical books. Knuth has limited his non-writing efforts so he can focus on academic research, writing, and publishing.

"I don’t even know what to say in response to this."

Then just don't post. I have no idea who you are, so I have no idea whether you are expressing that the author is stupid for not realizing this, or stupid for thinking it is true.

#3 - mega-jackpots encourage US gambling. By contrast, the Greek lottery offers tiny payoffs (around $50k is typical for a prize out of a pot of around 500k to 800k Euro, lots of tiny winners) but they also are very profitable, and seemingly popular, open like cafes during the evening. I've rarely played, maybe a dozen times in total. The problem with lottery tickets in Greece is that it's hard to get information on what number won, so if you have an old ticket you're haunted on whether you won or not, and cannot throw it away (though they expire after a while). So better not to even play, besides the fact it's a losers game.

#4 - different version of a work of fiction in the UK and US. Well, they also had a different movie ending in "The Vanishing" (Spoorloos) in the 1988 superior version vs the remake a decade later. Par for the course. In Bollywood they never have unhappy endings, so again it's a form of price discrimination (different prices/ offerings depending on the market, to maximize your revenue). US English is not the same as UK English and maybe one reason for the changes.

#6 - "In May 2013, citing concerns about safety and a lack of research, the FDA ruled that it would regulate poop (and the bacteria in it) not as a natural substance from the body, like blood or skin, but rather like a pharmaceutical drug, requiring rigorous safety testing before clinical use" - maybe sterilization will be called for by the FDA? One thing is for sure: if you deal with sheep dung, during the summer, as I have, you are guaranteed for having a flea infestation on your body. Guaranteed. Unlike First World countries, Greeks don't use sheep dip (too expensive) and the sheep and goats are full of fleas. The only way to get rid of them is to put all your clothes in a plastic bag and spray ant/roach insecticide in it, let it sit, then wash. You don't need special insecticides unless you have a severe permanent outbreak, which is rare. Simple synthetic or natural Permethrin will do (also good, in lower doses, for flies and mosquitoes). Malathion, a very safe insecticide I use on poultry, might work too, though I've never tried it.

Your are arguing that selling mercury and radium tinctures as medical cures should be allowed by the FDA?

The radium tincture glow was claimed to show its life extending properties.

That adding melamine to baby formula mix should be allowed and not blocked by the FDA?

The proteins tests prove melamine makes the milk better.

How about selling bottled water from springs contaminated with feces from toilets flushing directly into the streams or from feedlot manure pile run off?

That would be the same as the fecal transplants, wouldn't it?

@mulp - let the markets decide. "Your are arguing that selling mercury and radium tinctures as medical cures should be allowed by the FDA?" - Yes. They're allowed as skin whitening cures (they do work) in the Philippines; like smoking, people use them despite the warnings. As for fecal water, that's common in tourist traps (never drink un-carbonated water or fruit juices in the tropics or outside the USA, trust me. Coca-Cola is your friend). Contaminated baby formula? that's a close call but arguably with no FDA there would be a private "Consumers Union" that would do the same thing more efficiently than the FDA.

Poop, like dirt, is surprisingly complicated. Or rather, the microbiomes within them. Less so for poultry, I would guess.

For those interested in the safety of fecal transplants...

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0161174

As much as the adverse event rate is concerning, we must also realize that this is from published data, so it is likely to be biased in favor of safety.

#5 - best (volleyball) and worse (horse riding) Olympic sports. The latter allows mostly middle aged people to participate; the former is where hot tall girls play, especially beach volleyball (but please, no burkini, especially if you're in Corsica).

Did you know that chess *was* an Olympic sport until the 1920s, and now there's a push to reintroduce it? I for one would find that 'sport' quite interesting to watch. Anticipating the players moves is quite fun, if you turn off the chess playing engine while watching the games. It's amazing how often even a decent club player like myself can guess the right move at the GM level. The difference is grandmasters make good moves nearly all the time, whereas relative patzers like us make good moves 80-95% of the time--not good enough.

There is such a thing as a Chess Olympiad but it is organized by FIDE and is completely unrelated to the Olympic Games. It got started in the 1920's and continues to the present day. After a little online research I don't believe it has ever been an Olympic sport but could be proven wrong.

@Jeff - I'm aware of the Chess Olympiad but there apparently was a chess event scheduled during the actual Olympics in times past.

The first time I saw Olympic beach volleyball, the girls were indeed hot, but this year they seem so flat-chested that it raises suspicions about their gender identity.

Olympic volleyball is pretty people in skimpy outfits. Perfect for bars etc.

The only clip I saw was of them playing in body suits because it was "cold".

5. Maybe not "the worst," but your timing still seems off:
Ryan Lochte and Other US Swimmers Robbed by Armed Men in Rio
http://abcnews.go.com/International/ryan-lochte-us-swimmers-robbed-armed-men-rio/story?id=41375121&cid=clicksource_4380645_1_hero_headlines_headlines_hed

2. Relative size matters: it's not absolute size that matters, but size relative to one's neighbor. The best housing investment is the smallest house relative to the neighbors. Small houses toward a much better world.

"The best housing investment is the smallest house relative to the neighbors."

The smallest house on the block will always be the one that goes for the lowest price to neighboring comps. That may not seem so bad on a neighborhood price upswing, but wait to see how it feels on a neighborhood price downswing!

I have one of those small houses in an elite area. When times are tough, people gravitate toward smaller, cheaper houses, so they go down less. Low beta.

The biggest problem with McMansions in Sydney, Melbourne has to do with land prices.

Because land is so eye waveringly expensive [thanks to the banks bidding up prices over the last 25 years, and the States so dilatory in releasing supply] these houses are built with a 90% footprint on the lot. Over and above their negative aesthetics, their proportions are grotesque

They might just as well have built terrace housing: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/30117891229725776/

Regarding #2 McMansions, I guess Wells Cathedral is bad because its two tower masses compete with the main mass. And I suppose that also rules out the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

People's real problems with "McMansions" are that they makes people with old, small houses feel insufficient.

Of course the regulatory issues that encourage McMansions are the real problem...

True. Basically a story about how I don't like these houses, and I'll make up sh*t to try to justify my position. The article was way too contradictory to prove anything, and half the McMansions were the better looking of the group.

Agreed. Frank Lloyd Wright's houses consistently fail that article's straitjacketed "rules."

#2 So snobbish it's chav. "Great piece"? An anonymous tumblr blogger goes to great lengths to tell suburbanites who are "not educated in basic architectural concepts" why their dream house in fact sucks. Who would do such a thing? Why? What egregious wrong is being righted here? Sad.

It really is a bad case of arbitrary masquerading as authoritative. Literally anything that guy says can be immediately and effectively countered with "I don't give a shit because I like the way it looks."

#4. I think this is a bit of a non-story. The author admits that he just didn't make sure that all the UK edits made it into the US edition and vice versa. This isn't like the Clockwork Orange, where Burgess had to omit a final chapter from the US edition at the insistence of the US publisher.

#2. The the guidelines or architecture that this blog pushes are inefficient. Not necessarily the stylistic choices people make but the prescription offered for proportion and secondary masses is inefficient. If you've ever made blueprints for new construction homes you'll quickly find that it's difficult to incorporate a large garage into a symmetrical shape unless the symmetrical shape is huge. This problem applies to one third proportionality and the secondary mass concern. Largely, these stylistic concerns are overly based in the choices of historically wealthy.

The concern for the preferences of the historically wealthy is telling. It goes with what I said yesterday regarding the preferences of the left. The left hates growth; the left hates new wealth and striving, the left fetishizes old money, and fetishizes understated power and wealth. All of these things are mirrored their contempt for what are essentially large, efficient, and perhaps poorly styled homes. The shape of these homes is a functional shape, it is a new shape made by people who can't afford the largesse of old, but can't afford large spaces that don't hide themselves in symmetry and proportion. These people probably also prefer to spend thousands of dollars on interior automobile space rather than a German emblem. For these people there is nothing but contempt.

I don't know about the bloggers politics, but I was certainly thinking about function vs form. It does seem like a lot of larger homes have unnecessarily numerous secondary spaces, but I'm betting that's ultimately related to wanting most rooms to have windows.

Basically everything you ever say about the left is this right wing parody which basically does nothing but demonstrate a) tribal affiliation to those in the tribe and b) ignorance on the matter of what these other people actually think or what motivates them.

"The left hates growth ..."

Sorry man, but that's too dumb to be even a lame troll. You might do well to look up that documentary about Fox and brainwashing and be a little more critical about some of your sources.

“The left hates growth …”

"Sorry man, but that’s too dumb to be even a lame troll. "

It's very obvious that the Left tends to be far more critical of growth than the right. You might object to the word 'hate' as too strong, but the sentiment itself is hardly a lame troll. And I suspect that if somebody had posted the comment: "The right loves growth..." you wouldn't have objected to the statement.

The perspective is more like "growth is nice, but not the objective unto itself - the objective is improving quality of life in ways which are meaningful to me".

If you were to tell "the left" something like "that policy is bad because average GDP growth will be 0.01% lower per year for the next 20 years as a result, many will shrug their shoulders, effectively communicating "hm. Different priorities". Where the economic idiocy and innumeracy applies is when you're talking about a 1% annual difference, not 0.01% - but since the original comment relates to the supposed anti-growth views of the left, why not poll Trump supporters on related perspectives/knowledge.

What the left hates, is selling out on every other value or issue on the planet to get highest possible GDP growth. It does not "hate growth", rather it "disrespects GDP fetishes".

At times, the view and indifference goes too far, and you need to discuss things like "guns and butter" or the successes of Stalinist economic development, to explain that in the long-run, the rate of growth actually really matters for stuff like national security, and that 1000 years down the road that 0.01% a year actually starts to add up to something huge, etc.

On the other side, there is a staunch refusal to recognize the reality of any of the channels whereby inequalties reduce growth potential. I've got an IQ of (something high), went to uni at (somewhere pretty good), can easily rotate between shovelling shit and telling the "president of whatever" that he's either an idiot or must have been really extended recently, because in subsection 3.2a of the methodology driving his study, there's an understandable mistake that completely screws all the results.

But, you know, I had to spend tens of thousands of hours in all manner of jobs, labouring on farms, construction sites and in hospitality before I was able to access the opportunities that I did. Meanwhile, there are rich kids who put in little/zero effort, and get handed contacts on a weekly/monthly basis that would appear as opportunities of a lifetime to many.

Now, I'm OK with paying dues. But "the left hates growth" is retarded. The left does not worship at the alter of GDP. But it is the only place where you're going to hear people promoting arguments like "hey, do you know that if you help people to stand up instead of kicking them down, they tend to be contribute more to society?"

Well, if there is a leftist policy that increases growth rates, and I suppose this leftist policy that increases growth rates, should you conclude that I am left wing or that I am able to recognize a useful idea when I see one.

God forbid that helping people would ever be consistent with GDP growth objectives. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't. When helping people reduces short-term GDP potential, this is the beginning, not end of the argument.

That the economy may serve the people, and not the other way around.

Symmetry recognition is hard-wired on our brain. It is not a question of ancient vs modern architecture. Our brain is also trained to recognize structures likely to fall apart which make some column uses look pretty bad.

#6...Is there anything the FDA can do to assure me that I will never hear about this subject again?

"So far the worst predictions about Brazil’s Olympics have not come true"

It seems like press coverage of every Olympics (but summer games more so than winter, maybe) makes the host city preparations look like a massive boondoggle that will never come together in time. Then the opening ceremony starts, the media tone shifts 180 degrees and the events are held without any major problems. I'm skeptical that the Olympics tend to bring net revenue or any medium term growth above baseline to host cities, but cities/countries generally pull off the last minute facilities scramble okay.

Multiple competitors have been the victims of robberies, the accommodations are still a shambles, and multiple competition pools turned varying shades of green.

For as much as the press may tend to exaggerate the prep problems with host cities, their incentives nevertheless encourage underplaying it when those problems manifest.

Frankly I think that the main problem with McMansions is in the lack of attention to detail. The fake shutters on most of them are not even 1/2 the width of the window like a functioning shutter would be. Another example is that many have vinyl siding on their chimneys instead of brick. So, they are very large, but don't bother to avoid the sins of smaller, cheaper houses. Traditional mansions were both larger and bettter than regular houses.

Agree, that is the actual meaning of the term, cheaply produced large houses. So many people now just attach that term to any newly built large house, regardless of the construction quality.

Fake shutters are ridiculous, but those are on all kinds of homes, not just large ones.

McMansion as I've understood its usage refers to new subdivisions that are filled with many newer higher dollar homes that tend to be all very similar in construction. It's not a term I associate with "cheapness" as they are often expensive homes, but with similar construction as viewed from the street. ("The homes here are nice, but they all look about the same").

#2 seems obsessed over how a house looks like from the street. I spend less than one percent of my time looking at my house from the street.

How much time do you spend looking at yourself in the mirror?

#2 : web navigation and UX on tumblr are really really bad. Yahoo does such a poor job at their core business, managing popular websites.

Like many comentor here, I think that while the piece might be good from an architectural perspective,
the piece is faulty for the regular home owner.

I can juxtopse:
"too many voids" - "lots of sunlight and natural ventilation"
"large secondary mass" - "many rooms on the ground floor"
"not symmetric/ not the same windows" - "interesting shape and design"

badsically, the rules doesn't seems to impact in a meaningful way the home owners, so I would like to argue they are not "true" priciples, like for examples the priciples of having balconies on sunnier climates.

2. The thing that stands out to me about houses in Northern Virginia is that they often have brick on the front and timber on the sides or at least back. I love masonry but 99/100 houses that use brick here have that feature and I think it's really ugly.

#2. I'd distinguish between the last example and all the others. The last example is just a really bad and confused execution of some (lack of?) style. All the other criticisms seem highly formalized in someone's preconceived notion of the goal of building a house. It seems historically (and in the tastes of that author) houses should look appealing from the outside.What if you're entire goal in house design is to meet some functional need on the inside?

Take the greatest example ever: The Pompidou. One could easily say (and many did, right?) the building looks horrendous from the outside. That's not really the point. The building is spectacularly functional on the inside.

I'm not saying these houses are fantastic on the inside. I have no clue. But to say they are terrible houses because they don't conform to external viewer sensibilities is equally clueless. Has anyone ever walked into a late 19th century center hall colonial and said "Wow!! The use of space, and the flow from room to room in this house is so practical...I love it!!"

#2. Large residences of other eras would also look bad if taken off the country estates that formed their native habitat and forced to stand shoulder to shoulder on suburban lots.

Just Not True
go to Newton or Brookline (esp the cottage farm area) near longwood

as a super liberal, i have to say that anyone who hates mcmansions cant be all bad..another problem with them is that they are super cheap, and fall apart; yet another problem is developments where each house is a diff style..ugh ugh ugh

I think the poop article is a bit hysterical; docs deal with NDAs all the time
Note that this applies only to people who have C diff infections that have not responded to std therapy; many of these people may be fairly sick
The FDA wants the poop to be screened for, say HIV HEPC etc
that doesn't seem unreasonable, does it ?

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