Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Guatemala’s citizens score a rare win (in Latin America) for democracy over corruption.
  2. Read: More old friends are caring for each other in the face of shrinking and fragmenting families. Very much related: Social media has turbocharged the “bowling alone” decay of social ties.
  3. Watch: “AI can do your homework… now what?
  4. Plan: Dutch banks are calling for climate risk labels for houses mortgages. Here’s one calculator by postcode [Dutch]

H/T to CD

Interesting stuff

  1. Data != truth: 29 sets of academics, given the SAME data on gender and speaking in public, came up with disagreeing analyses. Related: 73 teams also disagree on how to interpret the SAME data on migration and support for social welfare.
  2. Read: America’s founders didn’t mean self-pleasure when they promoted  “pursuit of happiness” — they meant self-restraint.
  3. Listen to this really excellent discussion of how NYC’s 2019 regulation on “affordable” housing made housing less affordable. (The Dutch are doing more or less the same now.)
  4. Read how illegal drug producers pollute land and water in the Netherlands. Legalize and regulate drugs! Related: Farmers illegally dumping animal shit. Reduce industrial agriculture!
  5. Sad: Average world temperatures are now +1.7C over pre-industrial levels, with +2C in sight for 2030. Shit’s gettin’ real… Related: We need to think differently about how we describe the strength of hurricanes.
  6. Read this nice analysis of why democrats make housing more expensive than republicans.
  7. Read: Want less stress? Pay off your debt!
  8. Read this update on “lab diamonds,” which are chemically the same as “natural” (inhuman?) diamonds and thus pulling down prices by as much as 90%. Still, some people think they are too cheap (=not enough sacrifice for that ring?), which is why they need to raise the price — and attraction — by using my “eco-ring” idea 🙂
  9. Government failure in action: The Dutch government wants more affordable housing, so they’ve decided to expand supply limit prices, which has resulted in fewer and fewer new starts. What’s the challenge, says the city [in Dutch]? Builders can’t make enough money on new builds. Fail.
  10. Watch: If you believe in a “social license to operate”, then what explains McKinsey’s continued crimes against society?

Interesting stuff

  1. Shop! Someone made a useful AI-powered, reddit-sourced search engine for “buy it for life” products. Here’s advice on what bicycle to buy, for example.
  2. Maybe the neo-luddites are right to oppose the rise of tech-dictators?
  3. Read an analysis of why the Court struct down Trump’s claim that he could commit crimes (!) not just as president (!!) but also as a civilian (!!!). (The guy is really full of himself…)
  4. Read Neal Stephenson’s thoughts on AI (He coined the concept of metaverse)
  5. Read this fascinating (and well written) debunking of central planning, written in 1937 — 8 years before Hayek made his amazing contribution.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read how “environmental protections” are blocking efforts to improve the environment (e.g., installing wind turbines)
  2. YouTube provides essential infrastructure, but it’s not regulated that way, so we have (a) no idea what’s posted and (b) how it’s disseminated. Time for a change?
  3. This engineering professor worries that grade inflation will kill people (I agree). Now Dutch medical schools will put more weight on a lottery and less weight on skill-based indicators. People will die.
  4. Ever run into Exitus acta probat? Maybe not while reading Ovid’s writing in  Latin, but maybe in translation as “the ends justify the means”?
  5. Think how higher education is broken… because tenured professors can always say no.
  6. Read: Does Silicon Valley threaten our societies with its “techno-authoritarianism”?
  7. Males in Gen-Z are more conservative; females more liberal. Listen to some of the social and political implications. (Good time to remind boys that trade schools are not just better for their temperaments… but also a source of greater earnings.)
  8. Listen to this first episode on Richard Feynman, one of the 20th century’s greatest physicists and public intellectuals.
  9. People (in the US, but also elsewhere) are too busy complaining about their “rights” (on the left and right politically) to get along. The consequences are not good:

    If you have no hope of success because you are a victim of injustice, how can you possibly be motivated to do anything? How can you have a sense of agency? A discourse that was intended partly to empower people who suffer from structural disadvantages, by revealing the underlying forces that produced their circumstances, may end up doing the exact opposite: It enshrouds people in their own victimhood, and in the feeling that they have no control over their life…

    In a culture where negativity is aligned with righteousness, anything good can be seen as a mark of ill-gotten privilege. And if by chance one does experience pleasure, don’t be so insensitive as to admit it in public, because that will reveal you are not allying properly with the oppressed.

H/T to BZ

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen to yet another discussion of what we can do to “save the planet ourselves.”
  2. Read an interesting (maybe convincing, to me) critique of airline deregulation in the US. Perhaps a bit too much?
  3. Climate chaos is arriving, via “known unknowns.” Here’s a short read.
  4. A blast from the past (1958!): The Problem of the South [of Italy]: The Redevelopment of the “Mezzogiorno”
  5. Listen to this discussion on “the freedom to speak your mind” with the president of Wesleyan.
  6. Read We’ve Forgotten How to Use Computers (it’s all about the mouse!)
  7. Read The suburbs as a Ponzi scheme… which does make sense if you consider (a) debt and (b) deferred maintenance.

Interesting stuff

  1. Surprise (not): Wind turbines are not nearly as deadly to birds and wildlife as oil and gas. Read this.
  2. Read: OpenAi tries to make ChatGPT a platform, as Facebook’s did.
  3. Read: Substack tries to do Facebook 2.0, i.e., “social media” — and people are not happy. Read my post on free speech.
  4. Read this brutal takedown of dishonest universities.
  5. Cory Doctorow explains how he syndicates his thoughts and newsletters. I agree (I host my own website, etc.) but read the article for its insightful critique of the “data barons” who set our visibility, sell our dreams, and limit freedom of speech.
  6. Read this 1876 (!) article on the Mafia in Sicily, which is somewhat historic and somewhat contemporary: …above all, the conviction among the mass of the honest people, especially among the peasantry, that the protection of the liberal Italian government is more manly, honorable, and safe (and the government should endeavor to make it so) than that of the mafiusi, can with time destroy this vast association.
  7. Can a Nation Plunder Its Way to Wealth? No. Listen in.
  8. So you think you’re in charge of your use of the internet? Think again: Over time, they can make people assume that they have less in common with one another than they actually do. They can make commonality itself seem like an impossibility. This is how the wonder of the web—all of that wisdom, all of that weirdness, all of that frenzied creativity—can give way to cynicism.
  9. Bad news. Snow will disappear slowly… then ALL AT ONCE. Read more.

Interesting stuff

  1. I really like the Odd Lots podcast. Their “10 things we learned in 2023” is a really nice introduction to their style and content.
  2. Women’s bodies (fertility, etc.) play a huge role in our social and cultural evolution. Listen to this discussion.
  3. Read this 2018 article on the “9.9 percent,” i.e., the rich-but-not-that-rich group of people who have gained at the expense of the 90 percent below us (yes — “us” – -the readers of blogs like this). Here’s a relevant excerpt:
    The source of the trouble, considered more deeply, is that we have traded rights for privileges. We’re willing to strip everyone, including ourselves, of the universal right to a good education, adequate health care, adequate representation in the workplace, genuinely equal opportunities, because we think we can win the game. But who, really, in the end, is going to win this slippery game of escalating privileges?
  4. Read how governments in middle-income countries are trying to get rich via industrial policy, etc. In 1945, Hayek explained how they would fail.
  5. Read about the (imminent? threat of a?) collapse of trust in the US. Things will NOT go well if that happens, and it kinda already is!

H/T to CD

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Dutch temperature anomalies, visualised.
  2. Read: It Sure Looks Like Phones Are Making Students Dumber [data!]
  3. Read: People think they are poorer because they are paying more attention to grocery prices than their income. Related: College (if you finish) is still a good economic decision. Also related: Americans think they are poor when gasoline is expensive, even if gasoline is a tiny share of their spending. And another discussion on the topic!
  4. Read: Want to save the world? Don’t replace that stone wall with concrete. Rebuild it.
  5. Read: The Economist catches up with my 2020 observation that Bitcoin is a new species — and thus beyond human control.
  6. Read: The US government should apply the lessons from Operation Warp Speed to other projects (=set a target, then meet it).
  7. Listen: Naomi Klein has some good ideas on how to defeat right-wing populists. (Hint: Work more with blue collar workers and less with lifestyle activists.) Related: Paganism “(the worship of natural forces) generally takes two forms: the deification of nature, and the deification of force… On the left, there are the world-worshippers, who elevate nature to the summit of sanctity. On the right, you see the worship of force in the forms of wealth, political power, and tribal solidarity. In other words, the paganism of the left is a kind of pantheism, and the paganism of the right is a kind of idolatry.”
  8. Read this excellent summary of ecosystem services, which uses the “value of a whale” to make its points. (The article reminded me of the Soviet’s disastrous policy of killing whales to meet planning targets rather than to harvest anything of value.)
  9. Read this fascinating investigation of Ukraine’s (likely) sabotage of the Nordstream pipeline.
  10. Read (and worry): Dictator Xi’s quest for ideological purity and party power (see pagan, above) is moving China closer to a new cultural revolution… and the victims, this time, will not just be Chinese.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Persistent employment misery (for American workers) is a myth.
  2. Read: How to stop over-medicalising mental health
  3. Read: How American teens in the 50s-70s used to hang out
  4. Read: Higher Interest Rates Are Good, Actually
  5. Read: (US) Universities Don’t Understand Academic Freedom Related listen: Niall Ferguson on Free Speech
  6. Listen: The founder of DryBar on growth, teamwork, etc.

Interesting stuff

  1. Watch how amazing octopuses are!
  2. Watch “South Park The Streaming Wars” for an excellent farce on water rights (and mismanagement) in Colorado.
  3. Analyze the changing energy sources of our electricity. (The Dutch are probably the worst in Europe, and NL is certainly worse than the US!)
  4. Read: Gonzo right-wingers may destroy the US government’s administrative capacity (if the Supreme Court agrees). Wow.
  5. Read How the Feds bounced Binance
  6. Read “What happened after my wife and I removed Wi-Fi from our home” (their lives got better — and a marriage was saved!)
  7. Read how the natural gas industry keeps expanding its market share (and thus GHG emissions) with “bridge to sustainability” promises lies.
  8. Rhinos for sale? Good. Profit incentives can beat poachers.
  9. Holy fuck. The World Coal Association has rebranded itself as “FutureCoal: The Global Alliance for Sustainable Coal.” Matt Levine is hilarious on this (while also highlighting ongoing ESG fraud laziness):
    We talked a few months ago about a company called GreenSaif Pipelines Bidco, which is Saudi Aramco. I mean, it isn’t really; it’s a special purpose vehicle that owns some Saudi Aramco pipeline joint ventures and that sold some bonds to finance them. The bonds found their way into an index of environmental, social and governance investments, because technically they were not bonds issued by an oil or pipeline company (bad ESG) but by an investment company (good ESG, or at least neutral). Even though “Pipelines” is right in the name. But “Green” is in the name first. If you were an extremely careless ESG investor — and it is arguably rational to be an extremely careless ESG investor? — you might look at that name, see the word “Green,” stop reading before you got to “Pipelines,” and buy the bonds. I guess.
    Anyway here’s coal:

    The World Coal Association has rebranded itself as “FutureCoal: The Global Alliance for Sustainable Coal,” Chief Executive Officer Michelle Manook said at a press conference in Delhi.

    “For too long our global coal value chain has allowed anti-coal sentiment to dominate and fragment us,” Manook said in a statement. That’s “resulted in a lowering of the global coal IQ,” which the group defines as an understanding of coal’s contribution to society.

    “Lowering of the global coal IQ” is a magnificent bit of marketing and I lost several points of (regular) IQ just by reading it. But presumably the point here is that some investors, activists, governments, etc., are going to see that name and read “The Global Alliance for Sustainable” and figure “ah well that’s good then” without getting to the word “Coal.” I suppose starting with “FutureCoal:” is a mistake? Really they should put that off as long as possible. Call it “FutureGreen: The Global Alliance for Responsible, Sustainable and Clean Energy Derived From Natural Resources Such As Our Favorite Resource, One You Might Have Heard of, It’s a Really Good One, You’re Not Going to Believe This, Get Ready, It’s Coal.” No one’s gonna read that far.

H/Ts to MM and TB