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January Links: Giving, California’s Failures, Colleges, Foundations, Neighborhoods, Prostitutes in Brazil Learning English, Strippers in North Dakota, Riots in Detroit, and More

* “The story of GiveDirectly;” I generally favor direct action donations more than intermediary donations.

* “The Great California Exodus:” How the 20th Century’s most successful state’s bad policies have made it a net exporter of native-born citizens.

* From the “perverse incentives department:” “Colleges Rise as They Reject: Schools Invite More Applications, Then Use Denials to Boost Coveted Rankings.

* Jason Fisher flirts with minor celebrity.

* Awesome: “Tenants’ Deal Removes Bar To New Tower.”

* “Charitable Fund Ends a Good Run” describes a too-rarely-seen practice: setting up foundations that are designed to expire, rather than to propagate themselves forever (we wrote some about these issues in “Foundations and the Future“). Here’s a choice quote:

Susan Wolf Ditkoff, partner and co-head of the philanthropy practice at the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit adviser for organizations and philanthropists, said: “If the benefactor doesn’t make their wishes known, the default is that the foundation will exist in perpetuity.”

Ditkoff doesn’t mention that foundations like to “exist in perpetuity” because they offer an income stream to their officers; even if they don’t offer an income stream, they offer lots of paid dinners and the pleasures of having nonprofits grovel, beg, and praise.

* The Department of Education’s “Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII)” is an oxymoron along the lines of military music or humane war.

* Sweet: New FTA Rules Are Good News for People Who Like Walkable Neighborhoods: “The Federal Transit Administration is rolling out an important tweak to its grant criteria for mass transit projects in a way that should make the New Starts program substantially friendlier to dense walkable neighborhoods.”

* “Prostitutes in Brazil Take Free English Classes Ahead of 2014 World Cup;” the best quote is “I don’t think we will have problems persuading English teachers to provide services for free [. . .] We already have several volunteer psychologists and doctors helping us.”

* “A Grand Plan to Make Silicon Valley Into An Urban Paradise: Maybe the suburban land of the tech giants could become a thriving dense metropolis.” Sounds good if improbable to me.

* The Uses of Difficulty. Maybe.

* “Riot Breaks Out At Housing Assistance Event In Metro Detroit.” Isaac used to say that most experienced city housing department employees take the day off on Section 8 Open Enrollment Day.

* Construction jobs are still in a trough.

* “Uncovering Union Violence,” which “is an under-reported story.”

* “The North Dakota Stripper Boom,” which is another tale about unexpected expected consequences: “North Dakota [. . .] is experiencing an oil boom, which is leading to an overwhelmingly male population boom, which has some strange spillover consequences.”

* “The Early Education Racket: If you are reading this article, your kid probably doesn’t need to go to preschool.”

* Thorium Reactors, by Peter Reinhardt, which explains one aspect of why thorium-powered power plants might be the future of energy.

* “Margins:”

If you have bigger lungs than your competitor, all things being equal, force them to compete in a contest where oxygen is the crucial limiter. If your opponent can’t swim, you make them compete in water. If they dislike the cold, set the contest in the winter, on a tundra. You can romanticize all of this by quoting Sun Tzu, but it’s just common sense.

* “Going All the Way: The late Nagisa Oshima’s erotic, transgressive In the Realm of the Senses isn’t about sex. It is sex.

* Fundrise has a new project in the pipeline.

* Copy Of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ Can’t Believe The Notes High Schooler Writing In Margins.

* Overeducated and underemployed, a growing problem on both an individual and societal level.