Gongol.com Archives: February 2014
Abandoned school buildings in Iowa
There are many. And many of them were constructed solidly, so the bones and the shells of the buildings are still in fine shape. But lots of them were constructed using means and materials (like asbestos insulation) that make them hazardous and expensive to return to good use (perhaps repurposed as apartments or office buildings). It's a good example of why we should think about requiring demolition bonds to accompany new construction. ■ We can't perfectly match the lifespan of a building to its useful life, so instead of leaving abandoned buildings standing where they can become health and safety hazards or diminish the value of their surrounding neighborhoods, why not pre-pay a small amount at the time of construction to ensure that there's a set-aside fund available when it's time to tear down the structure? ■ It's not just an American problem, either: Japan faces enormous costs to remove old buildings that are abandoned and unsafe -- including some, for instance, that don't meet earthquake safety standards. Given how hard it is to get people to pay for maintenance and upkeep without deferring some of those costs out of convenience, responsible societies should think about forcing pre-payment of those costs so that they don't accumulate needlessly and burden later generations with the cost of cleaning up old buildings they never used in the first place.
Revealed preferences on Facebook: Who's in a relationship?
There's a pretty predictable pattern -- people's patterns of posting with their counterpart change dramatically (on average) as a relationship begins
"[W]hat does a good boss do better than a poor one? In a word, teach."
A Stanford study measures the productivity of teams at a large company and finds that replacing a bad boss with a good one does more to improve productivity on a team than adding a whole new worker.
An argument for academic relevance
Not relativism, but relevance to the real world. Nicholas Kristof makes a strong argument in a New York Times column that the highest stratum of academia "glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience" and needs to spend more time on Twitter.