Interesting stuff

  1. Watch: Symphony in acid …. on the biggest screen possible!
  2. Watch: Jon Stewart explains “the problem with white people
  3. Read: “Buy now pay later” is bringing debt and regret to a new generation and (related), listen to this podcast on scams and shorts in finance, with an emphasis on crypto.
  4. Read: Proton is like google, except you pay for data privacy (I’m a customer).
  5. Listen: Debate “is Chinese investment good for Africa?”
  6. Read: How the internet gets people to plagiarize each other
  7. Think: America, my increasingly ex-country, has lower life expectancy than 21 “peer” countries [pdf], due to a combination of death from cars, Covid, guns and lifestyle. The American rank, at 54 in 2020, is likely to fall further, due to the rate of deterioration in the US.) At some point, it may be useful for politicians to pay attention to their saving voters’ lives. Remember how Russian life expectancy dropped by around 5 years between 1990 and 1992? Pepperidge Farm remembers!
  8. Keep thinking! Europe, meanwhile, is (or will soon be) in a recession due to higher energy prices, climate change, inflation and trade wars. Would you rather be rich, or alive? I guess the question depends on your psychological outlook (do you feel safe?) and politicians’ response (start a war?). In either case, “fun times ahead.”
  9. Listen to how social media, as an addictive activity, leads us to sacrifice common sense, time and friends in a quest for “friends” and likes.
  10. Read how Japan made its streets safer for people (by banning overnight parking on its narrow streets by its micro cars, etc.)

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen: Student debt in the US is broken, universities are taking advantage and the debt forgiveness is deeply regressive — but popular with Democratic activists who are often indebted college grads. More on the games universities play with “aid” (it’s more like price discrimination).
  2. Listen: Raj Chetty on the prosperity opportunities from mixing children of different economic classes. Bonus (explore!): Data on future outcomes (income, marriage, incarceration) by where you grew up.
  3. Read: Bill Gates explains how free online teaching resources help teachers and kids
  4. Read: A economics nobel laureate is “looking into” California water markets. The first thing he should do is read my 2013 paper, “All-in-Auctions for Water” [pdf].
  5. Read: Retire early by treating your job like an investment and reconciling financial advice from books with research from professors.
  6. Read: America’s disaster agency (FEMA) is so dysfunctional that stricken regions need to hire consultants to navigate the bureaucracy.
  7. Read: The Dutch welcomed Chinese PhD students (“Netherlands was only too happy to bring in those Chinese students. A confidential memo from September 2010, sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Education, says: ‘Attracting talented Chinese PhD students to the Netherlands is an important spearhead in the Dutch strategic knowledge agenda.’”)… who then took their knowledge back to the Chinese military. Whoops.
  8. Read about entrepreneurs trying to put cargo on sailing ships.
  9. Read: The rich get richer: “Tutoring has become a weapon in the global arms race in education. There’s no limit to what some parents will pay.”
  10. Read: How to fix social media (use groups — as suggested in my paper on group cooperation)

H/T to BB

Interesting stuff

  1. Are you listening to understand or listening to reply? Listen to this podcast episode.
  2. In 2019, I wrote a post (“Sleepwalking into the Matrix“) about the rise in demand for escape from the crashing climate (and economic decline) meeting a rise in supply from firms offering escape into a matrix-like environment (now known as the “metaverse”). This recent newsletter gives an interesting (scary) update on the firms pushing on the supply side (as well as the emptiness of all the tech promises).
  3. Read: China’s surveillance state is going all out to control its citizens
  4. Listen: This podcast on little Japanese kids running errands gives a lot of insight into the role of urban design and how design for kids is entirely different from design for cars.
  5. Listen: The Booming, Unregulated Marketplace for Abortion Pills [in the US]… should surprise nobody in its existence and everyone in its avoidable dangers. Legalize it!
  6. Listen: Roland Fryer Refuses to Lie to Black America
  7. Watch: I want to grow old in a dementia village like this.
  8. Read: The most damaging farm products? Organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb
  9. Read: How the EU “conjures” emergency money from elsewhere (old wine in new bottles)
  10. Read: A data-journalist reflects on his firing from Faux News (after calling AZ for Biden). One observation: Unable to sell large, diverse audiences to advertisers, news outlets increasingly focus on developing highly habituated users. To cultivate the kind of intense readers, viewers or listeners necessary to make the addiction model profitable, media companies need consumers to have strong feelings. Fear, resentment and anger work wonders. It helps news outlets create deep emotional connections to users not just as users of a product, but as members of the same tribe…. news that is bad for your audience’s ideological in-groups is clickbait kryptonite. In such a competitive marketplace, riling people up against the other side isn’t enough. You’ve also got to create a safe space for consumers to plop down and contentedly contemplate ads for beet-based nutrient powders, reverse mortgages and copper underpants. If you challenge their assumptions or suggest that their avatars in the culture war are wrong or losing, they may leave for competitors who offer more complete protection from harsh realities.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: The number of Americans exposed to extreme heat will rise by a factor of 13 (from 8 to 100 million) in the coming decades. Related: Europe is not ready for heat.
  2. Watch: A really cool visualization of how (productive) city centers subsidize (unproductive) suburbs.
  3. Watch John Oliver on the fraud of carbon offsets (he sets up his own certification company!). I wrote about this issue 13 years ago!
  4. Listen: The best “defense” for technical analysis (of stocks) that I’ve heard
  5. Listen: Should Public Transit Be Free? (Good discussion)
  6. Follow the Money specializes in investigative journalism. In this article, they make the case for supporting journalists trying to uncover corruption, malfeasance, etc., ending with a link to ±10 outlets in Europe that can use support. I sent $50/each to four of them, and I encourage you to also give (or otherwise support) such efforts. There are a lot of bad actors out there (T***p being one of the worst in a “free” country), and citizens need help to defeat them or reduce their harms.
  7. Read: How to buy a sari in Lahore (“hostile territory” for some)
  8. Watch: Episode 3 (of 4) about how US zoning-guidelines screwed up Vancouver’s development
  9. Read: Member States sabotage public scrutiny of EU-funds worth hundreds of billions of euros (=corruption invitation)
  10. Think: Not all energy sources are alike (I fixed the title):

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen to this funny (on purpose?) guy talk about the pros and cons of 100% honesty. (He’s had a few bad dates…)
  2. Watch this video on why vegetable protein is healthier than animal protein
  3. Read: Watching TV makes dementia worse
  4. Read: Lawns are sterile deserts that guzzle water and chemicals
  5. Listen: Will MacAskill on morality and our future
  6. Listen: A lawyer explains the extreme activism of the US Supreme Court (fuck). Related: Listen to this extremely lucid critique of the “woke gatekeepers” (aka the elites) who are undermining real progress on addressing poverty and inequality.
  7. Read: Amazon’s quest to possess all your data expands. Related: European governments are getting in trouble for using spyware on their citizens
  8. Read: The business of digital face filters
  9. Read: Mosquitoes are really good at finding food (us!)
  10. Read: Interesting! “Pop stars on life after the spotlight moves on

H/T to PB

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: An increasingly popular retirement plan is figuring civilization will collapse before you have to worry about it or (for a brighter side?) listen to Why the end of civilisation might just be the beginning of a better one
  2. Read: The Age of Algorithmic Anxiety
  3. Read: Atmospheric levels of PFAS (a chemical byproduct) now exceed the EPA’s maximum health standards. PFAS are now, like carbon, a global public bad that will affect everyone, everywhere. Since PFAS include 4,700 chemicals that are used everywhere in everything it will be hard to reduce or regulate their use, but it’s possible, since it means going back to pre-1960 manufacturing methods (e.g., “no plastic”). Is it probable? Not in my opinion. What’s the likely future then? Maybe mass sterility. #theProblemSolvesIteself :-\
  4. Read: Lessons for improving public health with good urban design (e.g., ventilation in and between buildings) have been forgotten in an attempt to squeeze more people in less space. That’s probably a false economy when one considers the resulting spread of diseases. Related: Using AI to re-imagine streets, mostly by replacing cars with people-friendly spaces. Also related: An experiment adding trees to squares [in Dutch] that are normally without dropped temperatures by 5-6C (e.g., from 28 to 23C). Start planting!
  5. Read: “Social” media is straining and killing our sense of social reciprocity. It’s better to talk with friends instead of “liking” their posts.
  6. Listen: How McCarthy led to Trump (via Roy Cohn’s advice to “lie aggressively).
  7. Watch: Why Many Cities Suck (But Dutch Cities Don’t)
  8. Watch: Gas stoves are worse then you think — and the industry is even more evil than I imagined…. <sigh>
  9. Watch: How North America fucks up transit (and land use)

H/T to PB

Interesting stuff

  1. It’s hot, so people are (temporarily) thinking about climate chaos: Read about heat waves and the accuracy of climate models. Also read about the problem with air conditioning (as opposed to being poor and/or building for the local climate).
  2. Listen: What So Many People Get Wrong About The Energy Transition
  3. Listen: This podcast on Putin (there are many many people working on “understanding Putin,” so he’s getting the same treatment of his hero, Stalin) offers a sad but insightful analysis of his personality: A lonely guy who was recruited by the mafia before he started working for the KGB. A man who never personally experienced Soviet failures (Chernobyl, Afghanistan, the economy), and thus incorrectly blames for Soviet collapse on outsiders, when it collapsed from within. A man who’s death cannot come soon enough. Listen to it.
  4. Read: Amsterdam’s mayor on the “right” kind of tourists
  5. Read: How Tokyo allows small innovations in a sprawling metropolis
  6. Read: When the Dutch ran into an American billionaire
  7. Read: Taking back roads from cars
  8. Longread: How to confront the growing threat to American democracy. Related: How US gun sellers turned male angst about their masculinity into sales (and mass murders) and how social media DOES undermine democracy (“people are more willing to commit violence when they are immersed in a community they perceive to be morally homogeneous”)
  9. Read: Why houses are so expensive (interesting that 20 years inflation in the US is 72% but 22% in NL)
  10. Listen: Good discussion of the origin and dynamics of conspiracy theories

H/Ts to CD, DL, ED and PB

New paper: Teaching water economics

I’d love to get your thoughts/feedback on this paper, which distills around 15 years of my teaching experiences — successful and not — into advice:

Abstract: Economic theories and tools provide only partial insight into the many complexities affecting various uses and flows of water. To usefully teach water economics, it is therefore necessary to understand and cooperate with other disciplines. Many economic concepts can be used to understand different facets of water (mis)management, but these concepts are often pushed far away from their basic (classroom or textbook) models. Institutions, history and culture play a big role in understanding those deviations and how to address them. Water economics courses can use case studies to organize these complexities and uncover useful results.


Addendum: Interested in the fight between cars and citizens for streets? Read taking back roads from cars (via CD).

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Indian and Pakistanis are living with “unsurvivable” heat.
  2. Read: George Orwell on Hitler’s Mein Kampf in 1940: “Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.
  3. Listen: Yuval Noah Harari Thinks Life Is Meaningless and Amazing
  4. Listen: This podcast is more about citizen governance than big tech, so definitely worth a listen
  5. Watch: Who controls gas prices? (It’s not the president)
  6. Read: The Netherlands has the “least best” surface water quality in the EU. This is mostly due to agricultural pollution (=animal shit) and has been known for years. The Dutch need to decide whether they value their environment or their meat exports. This article [in Dutch] explains how they’ve received two 6-year extensions since the original deadline of 2015 and will probably miss the 2027 deadline. Other EU countries are also having problems, but not as badly as the Dutch, who have natural (peat bog) challenges as well as a very strong pro-pollution lobby (the farmers).
  7. Watch: My colleague Paul gave a great TEDx talk on climate and tipping points.
  8. Listen: Robin Dunbar (of Dunbar number fame!) on why religion keeps evolving
  9. Read: How to minimize hassle and maximize facemask safety on planes
  10. Read: A rising share of humans is exposed to heat stress — and most of them are in poorer countries where relief is out-of-(financial)-reach.

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen: A “dotcom millionaire” who later wasn’t on the market, and crypto meltdown.
  2. Read: Aridzona’s silly water laws are leaving owners of $600k houses dry.
  3. Read: Time for a post-Roe-Wade vasectomy? (I’m very happy with mine!)
  4. Read: Some researchers claim that large, rich Dutch cities are not “happy,” but they failed to back out the impact (good and bad) of inequality. That’s a fail because the entire point of cities is opportunity (thus inequality), not homogeneity.
  5. Read: E-scooters aren’t green if they are only used a few months.
  6. Read: Americans are losing millions to overseas “scam relationships.” Related: How Wall Street made millions as Main street lost to crypto scams
  7. Read: Stop reading the news to stay sane — and connected to reality. Related: Going offline in Wales to slow down and enjoy life
  8. Read: Rich people’s yachts as the ultimate (and movable) “fuck u, I’m rich”
  9. Read: This interview with Herman Daly, an ecological economist behind “steady-state [no growth] economics” presents his ideas clearly. I agree with all of them, since he’s talking about the right way to do economics.
  10. Read: One reason for higher prices? Abuse of market power by ocean shipping companies