Interesting stuff

  1. Happy solstice!
  2. Read how expats experience discrimination in NL (familiar to me).
  3. “Smoke from California wildfires prematurely killed more than 50,000 people from 2008 to 2018.” …and it will get worse. Read more. Related: Outdoor exercise is getting more dangerous.
  4. Read the constitutional case against exclusionary zoning.
  5. Read: The space commons are filling up, and one crash could lead to a cascade in which ALL satellites are blown to pieces.
  6. Read about the many (conflicting) ways Americans see immigration.
  7. Read: How to give and take criticism.
  8. Listen to this backgrounder on Bergheim (Berlin)
  9. Watch John Oliver explain the suffocating impacts of corn subsidies
  10. Read: Thames Water, loaded up on debt to pay investors dividends while failing to upgrade London’s Victorian-era sewers (and now Thames is bankrupt).

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen to this podcast if you think that maybe (just maybe!) whales might have a point in seeking revenge against humans.
  2. I’m impressed by this use of AI to help a Japanese mayor speak fluent English. It’s nice to understand more about local politics.
  3. Listen to this critique of America’s crony capitalism, and the need (I agree!) for more worker (counter-veiling) power.
  4. Well shit. US Supreme Court justices are picking the “facts” they want to support their political beliefs? What could go wrong?
  5. Listen to this clear explanation of how the US constitution is supposed to work (e.g., the Electoral College is a feature, not a bug).
  6. Read an update on trying to slow glaciers from sliding into the oceans, which was a big plot point in the 2020 Clif-Fi Ministry for the Future.
  7. Read this VERY LONG but very interesting article on Aridzona’s water issues… and very complex politics. A real masterpiece of journalism. It’s full of zingers like these:

    At certain moments in the Valley, and this was one, ingenuity took the sound and shape of an elaborate defense against the truth… When Kari Lake ran for governor in 2022, everyone knew her position on transgenderism and no one knew her position on water, because she barely had one. The subject didn’t turn out voters or decide elections; it was too boring and complicated to excite extremists.

Interesting stuff

  1. Americans (and many others) do not understand the dynamics of migration (=it’s not zero-sum): “This is madness. Failing to solve the immigration-recruitment kludge as we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on technology subsidies is about as strategic as training to run a marathon while subsisting on a diet of donuts.” Read more.
  2. PFAS contamination means some Dutch eggs and fish are too dangerous to eat.
  3. Read: Dutch politicians made the solar market, and now they broke it. Just another example of why [algorithmic] carbon taxes are better
  4. Harvard wises up: “the belief that the purpose of the university is best served by speaking only on matters directly relevant to its function and not by issuing declarations on other matters [e.g., politics], however important.”… As university leaders pronounce less, faculty and students should feel more free to step up and speak up, not on behalf of any collective, but as individuals who prefer constructive discourse to groupthink. For those who crave pronouncements from the top, there is still religion.
  5. Read this sad explainer on how US governments (at all levels) have outsourced “customer service” to profit-seeking firms that… make a lot of profits by (a) making the process more confusing (tax returns) and (b) taking a large share of benefits meant for the poor. Related: Scammy student-loan servicing companies undermine the purpose of federal subsidies. Watch.
  6. Amsterdam hit a record number of stays (22.1 million nights) by 9.4 million visitors. Is that a lot? Using the average number of nights (2.35), we can see that the “FTE” visitors to the city are 60,500 people (i.e., as if 60k tourists stayed all year), or 6.5% of the city’s current population of 932,000. Is that a lot? Barcelona had 12 million tourists staying 35.9 million nights (3.00 average), which means 98,000 “tourist FTEs” — or 5.8% of its local population. (Fun fact: 1/4 of their “locals” are foreign born.) So, yeah. Amsterdam is busy. (I’ve left off the 15 million day trippers!) What about Venice? Yeah, bad data, but 4.9 million tourists staying 8 million nights gives 22,000 FTE tourists, which is 44% (!) of the historic city’s 50,000 population. That’s why Venice is piloting a “head tax” to reduce day tripping demand.
  7. Watch Stephen Colbert enjoy saying “Trump, the convicted felon” (#lockhimup)
  8. Listen: Companies are finally getting the hang of (first degree) price discrimination (often via apps), which means higher prices for us and profits for them.
  9. Worry: “An additional 1°C of warming will lead to a 12% fall in gdp. A climate-change scenario with more than 3°C of warming would be, according to their estimates, an equivalent blow to fighting a permanent war.”
  10. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail 60 years ago. Listen to this discussion and consider this excerpt:

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

    We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Students and academics are too ignorant of reality to lecture anyone on morality.
  2. Watch: The lies that sell fast fashion
  3. Watch: A good explanation of how “more lanes” only invites more sprawl… and the same traffic jams.
  4. Read: “Clean-energy investment in America is off the charts…” but it won’t matter if utilities block grid-transformation.
  5. Read what the US needs to do to get its nuclear energy industry back in shape.
  6. Watch: Cities need to lower (car) speed limits if they want to stop car murders “accidental deaths”
  7. El Niño update: Summer will scorch; La Niña means stronger Fall hurricanes.
  8. Listen: John Stuart Mill & Harriet Taylor Mill – Liberalism’s original power couple.
  9. Watch: Saudi Arabia promotes oil demand… at the same time as “promising” to meet climate goals. (I’m shocked, shocked!)
  10. The American Dream™ these days means lobbying government to pay you other people’s money. Trump and his cronies will do this even more bigly than before…

 

Interesting stuff

  1. Read about the sustainable use of plastic for growing food.
  2. Sad, but true: China has gotten the trade war it deserves. (I’m not going for the “free trade is dead” headlines, but trade efficiencies are definitely falling, which means we will all be poorer, which means that politicians will have more reasons to block trade — and the viscous spiral continues.
  3. China and Russia are undermining belief in democracy, freedom of speech, etc. MAGA republicans (and other conspiracy idiots) are helping them return the world to smoke, mirrors and scapegoats.
  4. Read a defence of higher education (academic freedom etc.)
  5. Why are Republicans so opposed to reducing people’s income insecurity. It’s not like they face the same risks.
  6. Maybe social media isn’t that bad for teens? Read more.
  7. Read about Saudi Arabia’s official support for the 9/11 attackers.
  8. Listen: Why Has the Opioid Crisis Lasted So Long?
  9. Listen: Why is a garden a personal paradise?
  10. A Dutch judge sentenced the developer and operator of a crypto “washing” service to 5 years in prison, for “helping crypto owners hide their identities.” That’s maybe a strike against organised crime, but it’s also a strike against privacy. Where’s the line? Read more.

Interesting stuff

  1. The web is going to shit… if you hang out in a walled garden (social media), but not if you’re curious! Read more.
  2. “Administrators have spent much of the recent past recruiting social-justice-minded students and faculty to their campuses under the implicit, and often explicit, promise that activism is not just welcome but encouraged. Now the leaders of those universities are shocked to find that their charges and employees believed them
  3. Read this long update on Australia’s water markets. I think the journalists are wrong when they write Australia’s experience turning a public good into a tradeable commodity [1] has had far-reaching consequences… Trading water, Australians have discovered, is tantamount to transferring wealth [2]… since (1) scarce (rival) water needs to be managed as a private good if one wants to avoid a tragedy of the commons and (2) trades exchange water for money; it’s the granting of licenses that transfers wealth, and the government has done a shit job at it. Indeed, the authors later write: The government’s licensing system is “a failure of public policy,” says Jason Alexandra… a former senior executive at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, the government agency that manages the river basin. Authorities, he says, aren’t abiding by their own sustainability principles. He believes the state should freeze floodplain licenses and launch an inquiry.
  4. Read: Don’t worry about honey bees. They are — as “pollinating livestock” as likely to go extinct as chickens. Worry about all the wild bees and wasps whose populations are plunging under the twin pressures of habitat destruction and climate chaos.
  5. Read: Bureaucratic bloat has siphoned power away from instructors and researchers at universities… raising costs and damaging learning.
  6. Listen to this discussion with Jonathan Haidt on social media and Gen Z.
  7. Read this defence of getting some sunshine (rather than none)
  8. Read this entertaining description of Europe’s “excessive” holidays.
  9. Listen: Confessions of a Black Conservative
  10. Read: Flood of Fake Science Forces Multiple Journal Closures … as pay-to-publish services are “caught” certifying AI-, plagiarised- and ghost-written papers as legit.

H/T to GH

Interesting stuff

  1. Read about the “particular cruelty” of Dutch colonialists against Indonesians fighting for independence.
  2. Listen to this discussion of how the near-extinction of vultures in India may be forcing the Parsis (Zoroastrians) to abandon a 3,000+ year old tradition.
  3. Listen: An Ex-CIA Officer Explains How to Spot a Lie in Business
  4. Read: There’s no sign of peak American consumption 🙁
  5. Read: Carbon emissions are dropping in the EU (thanks to carbon prices!) but may obstacles remain!
  6. Watch (subtitles on) this update on the shit-show that is Dubai
  7. Watch How Amsterdam Built A Dystopia (urban planning disaster)
  8. Read about a good idea: Biodiversity police
  9. Listen to this brilliant analysis of housing affordability and political stability.
  10. Listen to the fascinating history of labeling dangerous substances.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Dutch businesses jump at the chance to keep employing refugees (a court ruled they can work for more than 24 weeks). Let them work — that will reduce local opposition to “needy” refugees.
  2. Read: Internet businesses are trying every type of price discrimination (a way of charging each customer as much as that individual is willing to pay). This bit was not shocking, but it is worrying: Why do you think every brand suddenly has an app? Because if you download the Starbucks app, say, the company can access your address book, financial information, browsing history, purchase history, location—not just where you live, but everywhere you go—and “audio information” (if you use their voice-ordering function). All those data points can be fed into machine-learning algorithms to generate a portrait of you and your willingness to pay. In return, you get occasional discounts and a free drink on your birthday.
  3. Molly White on the parallels of use(lessness) between blockchain and AIs: they do a poor job of much of what people try to do with them, they can’t do the things their creators claim they one day might, and many of the things they are well suited to do may not be altogether that beneficial.
  4. Listen to David McWilliams (again!) on how economists went wrong.
  5. Read: China continues to deny freedom of religion in Xinjiang — so no improvement on its 0 for 10 denial of the “Bill of Rights”
  6. Italy’s government says it will pay for 110% of the cost of home insulation. What could possibly go wrong?!? Read on.
  7. Good advice to follow on How to Be Less Busy and More Happy
  8. Read: AI-spam is choking the web with garbage.
  9. Listen: AOC makes a guest appearance [from minute 103] to discuss (a) how Robert Moses destroyed neighborhoods in her (Queens) district and (b) how Congress works.
  10. Read: China’s quest for donkey skins (!) exposes its actual (extractive) attitude towards its “little brothers” in Africa. Related: Chinese money launderers are moving #billions of criminal money.

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen to Ralph Nader (90 years old!) talk sense on capitalism.
  2. Read: Climate chaos will cost home owners at least $25 TRILLION in the near future. Most of them want governments taxpayers to bail them out, but there’s only so much money to go around!
  3. Read: AIs are going to make English even more dominant as the world’s lingua franca.
  4. Read: Before Facebook, there was BlackPlanet — and it’s coming back!
  5. Panic? Tipping points: About 11,500 years ago, during the Younger Dryas era, temperatures in Greenland leapt 10 degrees Celsius in a decade, with the rest of the world seeing a matching jump to a new state in a matter of decades, not centuries. Sea levels rose rapidly by tens of meters, driven by Greenland ice melt and other ice loss in the Arctic and Antarctic.
  6. Listen to this fascinating discussion of the impact of AI on the electrical grid, where operators are “surprised”. Note that they would NOT have been if, say, a carbon tax was in place, as that would have given a CLEAR indication of the need to shift from fossil to renewable energy as well as increase grid capacity to serve new electrical demand, which has shifted from +2% in ten years to +200%!
  7. Read: Here are some reasons to tax the income and wealth of the rich, but they do not get too deep into tax evasion/avoidance, which calls for property taxes!
  8. Read: Political pundits, who tend to lean left and rich, don’t understand the impact of inflation on their poorer neighbors.
  9. Read: Thames Water (London) may go bankrupt if it cannot get investors to contribute equity. The regulator will not let it raise prices by 40% to repair its aging network, mostly for fear (justified) that bankers will take the money and forget the repairs. Fun times!
  10. Read: Democracy dies behind paywalls — which is why I use a “paywall-circumvention-service” to share this article, and many others, with you!

Interesting stuff

  1. Watch: Wow, food delivery apps are way worse than I expected (John Oliver)
  2. Listen to this excellent discussion of global geo-politics (Fareed Zakaria)
  3. Read: Mergers and acquisitions [in the US] have created food oligopolies that are inefficient, barely regulated, unfair, and even dangerous.
  4. Read: Climate chaos is making parts of Africa uninhabitable. Where will people go?
  5. Read: Households, rather than choose more leisure as their productivity increases, still work an average of 67 hours/week. Keynes didn’t understand middle class aspirations.
  6. Listen to this discussion of NIMBYism and housing prices, i.e., the boomers winning at millennials’ expense.
  7. Watch: How the US fails to teach financial literacy.
  8. Read: Your “smart” TV is not your property — it belongs to advertisers
  9. Read: For years, I was told to worry about spreading sewage sludge on land… and now we see the danger: PFAS in drinking water that causes many terrible diseases.