Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Americans don’t have a lack of free speech, they have a lack of listening.
  2. Lex Fridman’s podcasts are really long (sometimes 3-4 hours), but these are interesting:
  3. Listen to how police used the blockchain to identify and arrest dozens of men abusing children (and sharing videos of that abuse). A little less of that disgusting evil.
  4. Read: Wanna save the environment? Empower indigenous people to protect (and own) their traditional lands. (I’m seeing examples of why this is necessary in the southern African countries I am visiting, where aggressive locals displaced hunter-gatherers and colonizers destroyed everything to extract resources.
  5. Read: The implications of tech mayhem in 2022.
  6. Low-tech Magazine has a lot of deep, insightful stories:
  7. How novelists are using ChatGPT (AI) to write
  8. Watch: The great places destroyed by suburbia
  9. Listen: Freakonomics rediscovers the “real” Adam Smith

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Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

5 thoughts on “Interesting stuff”

  1. The link for #10 goes to freakonomics as well. The link for #1 goes to endlessly regurgitated rubbish.

    1. Thanks!

      #1 seems fine. #10 was a dupe and I can’t remember where it was supposed to go 🙁

      1. Hmmm, this has been bothering so I’ll throw it out there. You have a good blog, you post good links, that economist article is atrocious and old hack. What gives?

        1. Well, we disagree. Their point — we don’t lack speech but listening — is correct IMO. What’s atrocious?

          1. Thanks for engaging, for some reason I didn’t get a notification of your reply.

            Short answer, it’s not the diagnosis that I take issue with, it’s the etiology and prescription. Sure, the patient has tinnitus, but I don’t think it was because they listened to Pink Floyd and I don’t think the solution is pouring bleach in their ears either.

            My brother and I have a pet theory that we’re living through the Adpocalypse. We are constantly bombarded with promotions, pleas, offers, information, appeals to look this way. All our senses are assaulted, auditory, verbal, visual, olfactory, emotional, intellectual by many well meaning (and some not so) sources, it’s inescapable. The reason people can’t listen to everything is because it is very, very loud right now.

            This comes, in large part, from freedom of (commercial) speech (see: opioid epidemic). There’s also the speech that the author advocates listening to, even quoting Voltaire “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death [of lots of minorities and marginalized peoples] your right to say it.” ( Whose deaths it is they fight towards often goes unsaid and unquestioned; this, I posit, is bad.

            It seems imperative to me that we spend less time & effort defending and promoting speech that is minimally productive and maximally harmful. There are a lot of marginalized voices and overlooked issues that could use our attention. Constantly catering to the voices that are overrepresented and hateful is destructive. Many protesters on campuses often have a solid a priori argument that the commentators they object to don’t meet the standards of honesty and fairness that the institutions they pay money to go to purport to uphold.

            Tom Nichols’ Atlantic newsletter illustrated this idea well:
            “One night in Pilsen, a lovely city about an hour from Prague, I finished my presentation and asked for questions and discussion. A young man, speaking very good English, asked me if I would like to comment on the idea that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were involved with a ring of pedophiles, a common internet conspiracy theory that had already been around for a while and is now at the heart of the QAnon madness. I responded that this was a debunked story and that I was not going to be drawn into a debate about it.

            After the talk, I spoke with this young man. I said, ‘You know better than this.’ He smiled and admitted that the story was bunk, but that he’d just wanted to see what I would say. ‘And to make sure everyone in the room heard it,’ I said. He smiled again and shrugged.”

            Sure, we have a listening problem. It’s because of the noise. This Economist article is one exemplary part of it. And it’s the millionth time they made the same exact argument, which is why I unsubscribed from them (I sorely miss the Graphic Detail newsletter, that thing is rad). Try as I might, I don’t know what salient point you could have grabbed from it.

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