Interesting stuff

  1. Watch this 30 second video on Trump’s denial of C-19’s exponential growth. Then decide who should lead the United States (now #1 in the world for C-19 cases… and soon to be #1 in deaths). Hopefully #maga stands for Many Americans Getting Angry.
  2. Explaining out 3-tier immune systems. Related: Age/vulnerability advice on protecting yourself from C-19.
  3. “Sudden homeschooling” is testing parental choices
  4. We Live in Zoom Now
  5. C-19: Denmark does the right thing (securing jobs, etc.), unlike the US, where a world-famous epidemiologist predicts damages and gives this opinion on Trump: “Speaking as a public health person, this is the most irresponsible act of an elected official that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime.”
  6. Plague economics from 1660 (lots of parallels to C-19)
  7. The view on C-19 from 2022.
  8. C-19 and social collapse
  9. My colleagues on Dutch failures to communicate clearly on C-19
  10. A good summary of Trump’s diplomatic failures, and (related) why trust in leadership (something Trump lacks) is an essential for fighting C-19.

H/T TO GH

Interesting stuff

There’s a LOT of stuff to read, and some of you have more time 🙂

  1. “Corporate persons” are more diverse than just firms
  2. Freakonomics: how C-19 affects the economy and teaching
  3. C-19 is triggering nostalgia for filthy local hangouts
  4. A broken backpack strap… and the circular economy. Related: Targeted advertising is bad for you
  5. Economists on C-19: Tyler  & Russ and supply chain disruptions
  6. The Black Death killed 60 percent of Europeans by spreading “quickly” around the continent.
  7. I’ve often said that climate chaos will be like living in the middle of World War II, except forever. The C-19 crisis is giving us a practice run, in good and bad ways: Disasters create a “community of sufferers” that allows individuals to experience an immensely reassuring connection to others. As people come together to face an existential threat, class differences are temporarily erased, income disparities become irrelevant, race is overlooked, and individuals are assessed simply by what they are willing to do for the group.
  8. How pressure cookers actually work. Semi-related: Food safety and coronavirus
  9. This podcast on uncertainty didn’t change my mind as much as express, with authority and eloquence, the real problems with economists assuming they know probabilities for uncertain events. Related: Americans’ knowledge of science varies a LOT by education and race but NOT political party.

Book 3, Chapter 1: Introductory

Marshall’s third “book” in his book volume on Principles of Economics is “on wants and their satisfaction.” This chapter contextualizes that topic (demand/consumption), thereby setting up Book 4 (production) and Book 5 (“a general theory of demand and supply”). These topics (and their order) will be familiar to a modern reader, but Marshall is innovating here by discussing demand and supply ahead of the traditional focus of economics (“the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of wealth“), which is pushed into Books 5 and 6 (distribution and exchange of value).

§2. Economists have neglected demand and consumption because they result from the decisions of individuals, which implied — since the logic of such dynamics was “the common property of all sensible people”– there was “nothing” for economists to explain [p71].

Marshall is challenging that norm because of (1) a prejudice to studying  production and supply, (2) new mathematical techniques uncovering ignorance of demand,* (3) new statistical measures of demand, and (4) a social pivot from creating wealth to using wealth to improve individual and collective well-being. This last, significant point remains underemphasized in a world that focuses too much on GDP and too little on well-being. Yes, wealth contributes to well-being, but so do many non-wealth factors (friendship, beautiful surroundings, or collective institutions to protect individuals from coronavirus).

[How convenient! In April, I am teaching an (online, closed) course on growth and development, synonyms for production and well-being , respectively.]

* Marshall’s colorful language is worth reproducing:

It is indeed doubtful whether much has been gained by the use of complex mathematical formulæ. But the application of mathematical habits of thought has been of great service; for it has led people to refuse to consider a problem until they are quite sure what the problem is… [p71]

Thus, the book will begin by looking into human wants (demand) as a complement to our efforts and activities (supply), which has received too much attention (in Marshall’s eyes) due to Ricardo and followers asserting that wants are animal and instinctual whereas efforts and activities are the main output of humanity.

Although I (as Marshall) see their point — we talk much more about firms, markets and products than the happiness of consumers — I agree with Marshall that demand needed needs more study. I say this because even today we do not really understand or promote human happiness (safety, friendship, respect, meaningful work, and so on) relative to human activities (production), which has left us blind to non-production policy and life-style paths. The results of our myopia are unsustainability, inequality, misery, and other problems that economists could really address — if they reprioritized.

A promising beginning.

Interesting stuff

  1. A podcast discussion of extreme economies, i.e., nature people find a way
  2. Bots are getting really good at writing “human” prose. That’s fun for short stories but a disaster for bots that troll, complain or otherwise divert or waste human attention.
  3. The market failures (=financial and psychological damages) of mobile phones and social media
  4. For a private market view of post-apocalyptic living, read this.
  5. The Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) gave a compelling, sympathetic speech on why cancelling St Patrick’s Day festivities was important.
  6. Two Things We Know With High Confidence
  7. What is “knowledge” in an internet world?
  8. A 2006 article on how Chinese factories stole IP from the foreign firms that hired them for contract work (basically by making extra on the side).
  9. The response to C-19 (isolation) is weakening the social glue that helps humanity survive and thrive. Related: The new Cold War has another data point in competing philosophies as China’s “success” with C-19 [wait and see, say I] strengthens its claim to a superior political/social system to Western [classical] liberalism.
  10. Yep:

Interesting stuff

  1. How Shell sees climate change and profit opportunities
  2. Listen to this absolutely fascinating podcast on Myanmar’s (Burma’s) history, ethnic conflicts and Aung San Suu Kyi
  3. Trump’s election got help from the Russians and other bits of good/bad luck, but his Facebook campaign was a genuine success at marketing. Read about the “strip mall brogrammer” who made it happen.
  4. Reminder: America’s success was not just built on slavery but genocide of the natives: “Rather than atonement and reckoning, the United States offered war and conquest as a way to forge national unity.”
  5. Want to feel better about yourself? Install the app that brings thousands of bots to praise your every word
  6. Mr Money Mustache has a great perspective on Covid-19.
  7. This recent paper describes how the Netherlands will need to adapt to rising sea levels (+3m by 2100, given failing mitigation) at an exponential rate that will exceed physical, engineering and logistical capacities.
  8. How Mount Everest became a multimillion-dollar business
  9. “The illogicality of shell companies is a result of the fact that they emerged from an illogical system in which globalisation is incomplete: money can go anywhere, but laws cannot. And the consequences of that mismatch are profound.”
  10. Starbucks has 32,000 locations — and an interesting role as a “third place”

H/T to PB

Interesting stuff

  1. What’s the point of money?
  2. Want Trump to let you out of prison? (1) Be a corrupt politician convicted of selling offices for “campaign funds,” (2) Note that your enemies are Trump’s enemies, and (3) Appear on Fox while Trump watches.
  3. Los Angeles tries to take back the data commons. Uber objects at this threat to its business model of profiting from data.
  4. Madeline Albright on how to respond to tyranny and populism 
  5. Our [American] institutions lost the capacity to mold character and have become platforms for performance instead.
  6. Here are 7 interesting visions of how the Netherlands might adapt to extreme (+2-10m) seal level rise. I am glad to see several in which Amsterdam is an island in a tidal lagoon.
  7. 100 ideas for better living
  8. Is there a science to better marriage?
  9. Why we need rules
  10. …and why we need freedom: “Modern liberalism fits the modern world of high human capital better than the old rightish model of dim-witted peasants properly led by the aristocracy or the old leftish model of gormless proletarians properly led by The Party. If ever there was a time to let people go, and to have a go, it is now, when they are so obviously ready for a liberal autonomy. Yesterday, one might put it, was the time for the aristocracy or the state. Now is the time for liberalism.”

H/T to BZ

Interesting stuff

  1. India moves from multi-culturalism to Hindu nationalism — a process that was exacerbated by the colonial period and that will not end well.
  2. A fascinating review of the 1980s in America, which has led to the current “OK-boomer” social schism and many other issues: “Failing to win a consensus for the revolutions of the 1960s, Washington instead bought off through tax cuts those who stood to lose from them. Americans would delude themselves for decades that there was something natural about this arrangement. It was an age of entitlement.”
  3. The nuclear family was a mistake… in terms of social safety, cohesion and development
  4. Is capitalism the solution or the driver of climate chaos?
  5. Here’s a really great paper on “the consequences [=shortage that harms the poor] of treating electricity as a right.” It’s nearly identical to the case of treating water as a right.
  6. A beautiful essay on the silly way Silicon Valley types speak.
  7. The decadence before the fall: Coffee obsession
  8. The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake
  9. Where will political correctness + national pride take our language?
  10. Bill McKibben’s latest update on our fucked-up climate chaotic future

Interesting stuff

  1. Civilizations don’t collapse. States do.
  2. A big storm washed away sand meant to protect the Dutch coast from storms (!) The government claims it will “come back.” Right.
  3. Fascinating: An anthropologist on Wall Street and the origins of the “shareholder value” that’s destroyed so much social value.
  4. Three podcasts on cryptocurrencies: a godfather, their weaknesses, and how they help people in mis-governed countries.
  5. And then podcasts on the social impacts of online dating and a really fascinating interview with a financial scammer.
  6. Romer criticizes economists but not Nordhaus (co-winner of the Nobel), who has rationalized inaction on climate change for long enough to doom humanity.
  7. Fascinating (accurate) insights on Wall Street from an anthropologist.
  8. China’s response (total lockdown) to the Wuhan corona virus is mostly about showing that the party is in charge.
  9. (Some) Scandinavians admit they gain from the rest of the world, unlike nationalists who think incest is the best source of innovation.
  10. The endless damages of CC will push us to abandon cities and “how bad can CC get by 2050? Very bad!”

H/T to CD

Interesting stuff

  1. Democrats are losing touch with the “high school nation” that is the US
  2. Six (corporate) life lessons — the funny version
  3. The “desk killers” who kill millions at a distance
  4. The Mumbai police have a brilliant solution for too much honking
  5. Review of Shoshana Zuboff’s Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019): “The aim for the surveillance capitalists is to share this theft of information about private lives with third parties for money.” Read my review of Future Crimes to protect your privacy.
  6. The war on cannabis has been failing since 600 BCE
  7. Amazing rant on Louisville’s failure to invest in water infrastructure
  8. Are we all members of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement?
  9. Academics are starting to predict where people will move under the influence of climate chaos. Good morning Detroit!
  10. Related: The solution to climate change is not population control but carbon controlresearchers are updating flood maps to reflect rapidly rising climate riskArctic permafrost is melting so fast that it may overwhelm the (direct) human contribution to climate chaos. Happy Valentines!

H/T to PB

Interesting stuff

  1. GHG emissions/$ are falling in the US, but not fast enough
  2. Growth before development or vice versa?
  3. Color as technology
  4. Finally! A story connecting Putin’s rise with the deaths of hundreds due to explosions in apartment blocks. It was blamed on terrorists but was probably Putin (KGB/FSB)
  5. Wall Street may be getting serious about climate change. Your investments and retirement might be in for some serious disruption.
  6. America might be getting serious about harm reduction, due to the tens of thousands of people dying from opiates, heroin and fentanyl. I hope that this is just “putting knowledge to work” but it may have something to do with race 🙁
  7. Dutch universities are way behind on preparing for climate change (As usual, they may not know what they are doing…)
  8. A start-up founder who chose success over growth
  9. The centralized business model of Cosa Nostra (“The Mafia”) has been replaced by the decentralized model of the ‘Ndrangheta, which is extremely successful. (My take on decentralization.)
  10. The Swiss use their time to enjoy their lives. Can you?

H/T to AW