Interesting stuff

  1. Read: It’s 2021! Time to tidy your digital life and start some good micro-habits. (I usually delete articles like these, but there’s some good info here.)
  2. Read: Big data may not be very good for medical patients
  3. Read: Much as I suspected, COVID has changed dating… for the better.
  4. Read: As discussed in Jive Talking #88, the savings boom in the US (fed by the CARES act and reductions in spending) has played a big role in boosting asset prices: “This combination of soaring personal income and falling spending pushed Americans’ savings rate through the roof. From March through November, personal savings was $1.56 trillion higher than in 2019, a rise of 173 percent. Normally the savings rate bounces around in a narrow range, around 7 percent just before the pandemic. It spiked to 33.7 percent in April, its highest level on record dating to 1959.” Additional thoughts: Share prices are ALSO rising because monetary inflation (JPow’s money printer goes “brrrr”) is channeling into assets that have returns only slightly higher than 0% (or negative) returns on bonds. So the P/E ratios can climb way higher. What will cause a crash? Government budget surpluses or a cut in money supply, both of which are politically unpopular.
  5. Read: Global food prices are up 18%, to 6-year highs due to climate and politics. Next up food riots?
  6. Read: Applied game theory: Coordination
  7. Read: Humans created “social reality” to augment physical reality
  8. Listen: Why generalists (and “late starters”) are more successful than specialists
  9. Listen: A really interesting discussion of how economists over-emphasise “homo economicus” selfishness over our more generous natures.
  10. Watch (a few times): “A white guy drops a wicked freestyle rap

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen: Ezra looks back on 5 years of his podcast. Lesson #1: Do the reading
  2. Watch: A coup in the US? It’s unlikely but less unlikely with Trump’s rhetoric
  3. Read: What we know about COVID after one year
  4. Read: Nature is not healing. We need to dial back way more if we want that.
  5. Read: Rich countries (US, UK) are facilitating corruption in poor countries
  6. Read: The “Russia hack” is way way bigger than anyone thought
  7. Listen: A CEO makes the case for bitcoin as an inflation hedge
  8. Listen: The art of rest
  9. Listen: A health economist of the (response to the) pandemic (hint: it’s a collective action problem)
  10. Read: The unexpected beginnings of ARM computing
  11. Read: A surprising and (not) shocking of fast decisions leading to poor results: Thousands of ships are now burning toxic dangerous “green” oil
  12. Read: You think Facebook is bad? Data privacy in India is a disaster.
  13. Watch: President Obama, elder statesman, has good opinions
  14. Read: Is purity or compromise better?

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Mafiosi protected those making “The Godfather” (a film about them)
  2. Read: “No Frenchman worthy of the name has ever apologized for anything, and I’m certainly not going to start. Obviously the English word “snob” is an inaccurate description, since a snob is someone who thinks he’s superior, which is different from a Frenchman, who knows he’s superior.” Funny but also insightful.
  3. Listen: An interesting podcast on financing development in Africa
  4. Read: “Ravens parallel great apes in physical and social cognitive skills” but we knew this, didn’t we, from The Hobbit (1937).
  5. Read: Is it easier to become a billionaire if you’re an asshole? No.
  6. Listen: Biden’s top economist is into sustainability
  7. Read: “History suggests it might be better to regard pandemics less as crises than as occasions for political ‘reckoning’ that may – or may not – see the resolution of long-standing social and economic grievances.”
  8. Listen: “Stakeholders gone wrong” consultations over neighborhood land use
  9. Interesting data:

…and that’s all the “interesting stuff” I have for you in 2020.

See you in 2021!

Interesting stuff

  1. Watch: The ongoing failure to protect the quality of Americans’ drinking water
  2. Listen: Good Econtalk on covid in schools and maturing as a parent
  3. Read: A (fascinating) history of autopsies
  4. Read: A Norwegian tracks the trackers on his phone.. back to US intelligence
  5. Read: Using clams as “dirty water” detectors in Poland (shitty website — sorry!)
  6. Listen: Debate on Should the West get tough with China? 
  7. Read: Teamwork delivers more than the sum of player talents
  8. Read: The drawbacks of video “teaching” can be overcome (hint: smaller groups)
  9. Listen: Why don’t economists study the Big Questions?
  10. Read: How the ballpoint pen changed handwriting

Interesting stuff

  1. Falling down conspiracy-theory-rabbit-holes in lockdown: “Personal contact takes you out of the rabbit hole. You know, it can be a very direct, ‘No, mate, that’s nonsense,’ but it could also just be taking people away from the singular focus that conspiracy rabbit holes require. Just by introducing other topics of conversation.” Lockdown removed those opportunities for intervention at a stroke.
  2. Credit card rewards (e.g., air miles) as a tragedy of the commons (bad money forcing out good).
  3. Distilled crazy from Fox News
  4. Really cool: Street View of 1940s New York
  5. Utah is #1 (in the US) for social mobility and collective responsibility
  6. Asian governments are spending big to “fight” COVID, which means more debt, more inflation and more corruption
  7. Stressed out indoors? Breathe deep and look outside
  8. The fascinating history of autotune
  9. How venture capitalists are deforming capitalism
  10. Napoleon’s mail habits are also good email habits

Interesting stuff

  1. On grifters:”American self-conception, that wobbly construct, has long depended on a good amount of delusional entitlement
  2. A young Dutchman goes to India, “sees the light” and sets himself up in the US as a guru: “But the joy they derived from the videos was hallucinatory, dissociative, fleeting. When they looked away from the screen, they were once again faced with the reality of their lives. So they went back online.”  Abuse follows, and he’s not the last: “Over the past decade or so, Burton added, the internet has broadened and intensified this dynamic. Online spiritual communities offer a safe and exploratory experience for those who feel marginalized, alienated or exiled from traditional religions. As in the 20th century, these new spiritual movements are often met with condescension and fear. But while the low-barrier-to-entry of spirituality online means that vulnerable seekers are at risk of being exploited by a larger pool of ideologues, narcissists, and charlatans, Burton emphasized that spiritual communities on social media are mostly just filling a void.”
  3. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, is pretty cool
  4. A 240-year history of (not so) free trade in the US, in 22 minutes
  5. Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 free e-books (I like Agatha Christie) and a great attitude: “If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the rules is very easy. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and research. They may be modified and printed and given away–you may do practically ANYTHING in the United States with eBooks not protected by U.S. copyright law.”
  6. The Deltaworks are the “wonder of the world” protecting the Netherlands from floods — for now.
  7. Investigating the corruption behind Beirut’s huge (and deadly) explosion
  8. The story of a white Boston orphan who ran a Chinese drug gang
  9. A neighborhood in Rome: Its people and bar-life during COVID
  10. Mammals have a lot more in common than I thought #NoHumanExceptions

Interesting stuff

  1. My “sound” is your “noise” and other problems with noise pollution
  2. This speech by Jack Ma (founder of Alibaba, one of the richest people in China) on China’s tech development, regulation, etc. is worth reading, due to his statue and the government’s reaction to it (delaying what would have been a record-breaking IPO of Ant Financial).
  3. Physical book quality is falling as “print on demand” spreads
  4. Use this tool to see how to decarbonize the economy (hint, carbon tax is way more effective than banning coal…)
  5. How the US can leave fossil fuels behind
  6. The Big Lessons From History
  7. A debate over the future of capitalism, in which “doughnut economic aspirations” appear but fail (no surprise) in the face of confusion about the differences between markets and government.
  8. Friends or colleagues having trouble with “science” (climate change, COVID, vaccines)? Use the “Denialist playbook” to dissect, understand and refute (?) them.
  9. TikTok is an eternal channel flip
  10. Future geopolitics will change as economic weight moves from “West to East”

Interesting stuff

  1. Short selling to take down bad companies
  2. The future? “Imagine if men could have the diversity of sexual experience of Genghis Khan, Muhammad, or John F. Kennedy without actually achieving anything. Sex robots are about to make the virtual world even more alluring.
  3. This article captures the mentality of many Trump supporters: “The fact that the leader of one of our two parties—the party, in fact, that has for many decades represented what was normal, acceptable, and respectable—was not ashamed to reveal his own selfishness, was not ashamed to reveal his own indifference to the suffering of others, was not even ashamed to reveal his own cheerful enjoyment of cruelty…all of this helped people to feel that they no longer needed to be ashamed of those qualities in themselves either. They didn’t need to feel bad because they didn’t care about other people. Maybe they didn’t want to be forbearing toward enemies. Maybe they didn’t want to be gentle or kind. In a world in which the rich want permission to take as much as they can get without feeling any shame, and many of the not-rich are so worried about their own sinking fortunes that they find it hard to worry about the misery of anyone else, Trump is the priest who grants absolution.
  4. Sean Connery, RIP
  5. Macron defends free speech (unlike many cowardly “leaders”): “The polities of France’s historical allies, notably the United States and the United Kingdom, have degenerated into various species of illiberalism. There is the right-populist form that currently holds power in those places—and also the left-authoritarian form that dominates many cultural institutions and buys into the lie that when a terror cell with automatic weapons assassinates an office full of humble caricaturists, it is the latter who are the oppressors. That lie is at least as attractive in the English-speaking world now as it was in 2015.”
  6. Cancel culture is much worse than critical culture
  7. The China bubble that never pops
  8. Social media has empowered “deplorables” against elites: “I would not say that our institutions are mired in a period of secular incompetence and decline. That is actually true, but I wouldn’t use those words. I would say that our institutions are structurally (and, I believe, catastrophically) mal-adapted to the new information environment, and that the people who run them are both unable and unwilling to reform them.”
  9. Steve Levitt (Freakonomics) on “making a difference” as an economist​​​​​​​
  10. Overgeneralizing affairs: Men have them to reclaim manliness; women to complete their relations.

Interesting stuff

  1. Covid has shut down DJs, clubs & festivals around the world 🙁
  2. A history of Greyhound bus lines…
  3. The Tragedy of the Tragedy of the Commons
  4. The Netherlands is the ideal base for international drugs trade
  5. I had no idea, but the “forest wars” to cut or preserve old growth trees in the Pacific Northwest were being fought when I was a child in the 70s and 80s. What’s crazy/sad is that it was a “great idea” to clearcut thousand-year old trees until then 🙁
  6. Economic growth gives us liberalism and demands for equality whilst stagnation and regress give us political reaction
  7. Kevin & Mike are the co-founders of Instagram. How did they form such a strong partnership?
  8. Facebook is happy to sell ads to those who believe in conspiracy theories, undermining its claim to be fighting misinformation.
  9. The former head of Venezuela’s central bank on how to mess up an economy
  10. The Lockpicking Lawyer is funny as hell