Monday Links

An excess of Security

A roundup of the links that I’ve found interesting this week:

Why the Rules of Language Are Both Arbitrary and Essential, Steven Pinker on the false fronts in the language wars between those who argue that the language has defined rules, and you are either correct or incorrect, and those who record usage with no judgements. Pinker argues that there is a middle ground, occupied by most linguists, that records generally accepted language use, without making moral judgements about it.

Economist Paul Krugman Is a Hard-Core Science Fiction Fan – fascinating Wired interview with Nobel prize winning Economist Paul Krugman, which touches on, among other topics, the cashless future of Star Trek, and the economics of interstellar trade (turns out the theory of relativity is pretty important in the analysis).

Combined wealth of 6 Walmart heirs = the wealth of the entire bottom 30 % of U.S. society. Joseph Stiglitz on Income inequality in the US, and why in the long term, it is bad for the 1% as well as the 99%. And here is how you can see it from space – by looking at the trees.

Australia is no. 1 in the better life index from the OECD. Only no. 3 for bottom quintile of population though.

Life expectancy rose in the last 25 years much faster in NY than the rest of the US. Is it the walking that everyone does to get around? And what are the best walking cities in the world? Tyler Cowen argues London, Paris, Buenos Aires, with Barcelona a close fourth. I reckon on his criteria (which include access to good chocolate), Melbourne has a good case.