Interesting stuff

  1. Progress: Amsterdam is raising parking prices, slowly [in Dutch]. Hopefully they hit the 10x targets we suggest 🙂
  2. Watch: Mike Tyson is a nice(r) guy on cannabis: Meet Tyson 2.0
  3. Read how the Washington Post dealt with Trump and why its slogan is now “Democracy dies in darkness.”
  4. Read: A chemical company lied about its PFAS discharges into Dutch waters.
  5. Listen and learn about academic fraud
  6. Listen to this discussion about de-growth
  7. Listen: One reason that so many Blacks are guilty of murder in the US? Emergency services do not prioritize their (often Black) victims, who die, thereby changing “assault” to “murder.” (Discrimination everywhere, all at once?)
  8. Watch: Americans drive BIG (deadly, polluting, etc.) CARS because of government policy.
  9. Listen: Two CEOs are better than one… if only because they can talk over tough (or crazy) decisions. Musk needs a co-CEO.
  10. Read: NYC floods, again, due to extraordinary rain climate chaos. This is what we mean by non-stationarity.

H/T to CD

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Technology is changing the “baby birth” season.
  2. Read: Airlines are more like banks (in the bad, “printing money” way)
  3. Listen: There are no actual cases of strangers poisoning kids at Halloween in the US. (There are cases of murderous parents.)
  4. Listen: “Progressives” have gone a bit too fascist.
  5. Read: Google’s advertising model is breaking search
  6. Watch: 90% of Iceland’s women went on strike took the day off in 1975. (More) equal rights quickly followed.
  7. Read: Private equity (leveraged buy outs) delivers more risk and less return than advertised (remember this podcast?)
  8. Listen: Humans love financial bubbles (from tulips to trains to NFTs)
  9. Read: Big tech is selling your personal health info, even when it says it isn’t.
  10. Read: Software engineers created GPTs that may take their jobs.
  11. Think: Americans started using “socialist” when — after the Civil War — it was defined as government spending to help the poor (Blacks) on the backs of the rich (Whites) — and that’s how “socialist” became a dog whistle for pro-civil rights. (WTF, people!?!)


Interesting stuff

  1. Read: The Great [climate chaos] Disruption Has Begun
  2. Read: Libya’s floods (and 10,000+ deaths) are the result of bad governance — and those “bad results” are going to multiply as climate chaos strains infrastructure designed before the Anthropocene.
  3. Read: Americans — mostly Rs — are abandoning the Constitution.
  4. Listen: Perfectionism (against yourself, due to social pressure or against others) is ruining our lives…
  5. Read Scream, Crash, Boom (2005), which seems a reasonable series for humanity to go through. Scream has been happening since the 1940s, Crash is now strengthening and will last for 200+ years. Boom is started in some places (lithium mining), but it’s going to be buried until Crash hits bottom (90% depopulation?). Life may be good… for the survivors.
  6. Read: American’s driving their kids to school is bad in so many ways. Related: Roads (and the cars on them) are an ecological disaster.
  7. Listen: We need to switch to metrics for safety and convenience.
  8. Read: We need more two-parent households. That means jobs for men and rights for women.
  9. Read: Separate but NOT equal: US states underfunded Black colleges (vs White colleges) by $billions.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: The China model is dead has been murdered by Xi, who’s prioritization of CPC control and loyalty has crushed China’s “animal spirits”
  2. Listen to Malcom Gladwell’s fascinating dive into the mythology of the “Wild West” and how that distorts US gun policy.
  3. Think: I read awhile ago that “humans and food for humans” takes up 97% of the Earth’s biomass, with the rest being “wild.” Those figures are kinda right. If you look at the data, then “humans and food for humans” compose 95% of the “land creatures” with the other 5% being wild animals and birds. But the share of “humans and food for humans” drops from 95% to 5% if you include fish, mollusks, worms, spiders, etc. But, I am not going to “relax” about human impact because (a) our 95% share of “land creatures” was much lower (say 50%) 100 years ago, when populations and meat eating and land clearance were all lower, and (b) we are impacting the worms, fish etc. in the Anthropocene, in ways that may will eliminate many species.
  4. Watch some pretty impressive boat woodworking.
  5. Watch and learn how Silicon Valley developed as a tech cluster in the years before it was even called that (after 1970).
  6. Read: Crypto-bros pivoted to AI, and now they are struggling to monetise novelty that may not be delivering value.
  7. Think: A fascinating paper on “The Ecological Origins of Economic and Political Systems” [pdf]
  8. Read: Cities fall apart when they lose their local elites, but those local elites are not always good for progress.
  9. Listen: The [American] football players’ union asked what was wrong “at work” and the answers are scaring (billionaire) owners into improving conditions!

Interesting stuff

  1. I dearly hope that the Spanish football association stops with the chauvinism (=the male director kissing sexually assaulting a female player at the women’s World Cup awards ceremony). Listen in.
  2. Listen/read (and think) about “Covid revisionism” (Yes, it was worse than you remember.)
  3. Read: US states are preventing insurers from pricing climate risk, so they are leaving those states. Good for reality, bad for people underestimating their risks.
  4. Watch: Is your data worth anything? Maybe not, but it’s being harvested. Should we make everyone’s data public? Is there a role for privacy?
  5. Read: America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow. My thoughts: (a) This is a long-running trend (50+ years), (b) it’s nice that the NYT did the work that the government failed to do (!), and (c) cut off the farmers before we lose the cities.
  6. Listen: Key Lessons From The “Chicago Boys” Chile Experiment (best discussion I’ve ever heard). Also really good is this article on the 1973 coup.
  7. Watch this for some tips on writing, especially “inspiration”
  8. Watch and chin up: “You will never do anything remarkable… except live”
  9. Read: YouTube appears to have altered its algorithm, to stop the “radical rabbit hole” issue. Now people need to stop searching for ways to “destroy their enemies”
  10. Read: Burning Man’s community is getting torn apart by the anti-billionaire techlash, sustainability protests, “unhelpful weather,” and attendees who decide to run instead of practice “radical self-reliance and inclusion.”

H/T to DL

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: “At worst, recycling bots could give companies an opportunity to greenwash their reputation. Advances in AI could allow brands to claim their materials are theoretically recyclable, when in practice they aren’t—and when what’s really needed is more money in the system.” Me: Recycling costs money, especially when firms have no incentive to reduce their packaging or make it easier to recycle it.
  2. Think: Some species are changing their behavior (e.g., resting in shade) in response to CC-induced heat, which means they are not evolving. When they run out of shade, there will not be enough time to evolve, so they will go extinct. The same is true for humans: Turn off the A/C and we die of heat stress.
  3. Read: China’s “global” infrastructure investment bank is beholden to the CCP, not development experts. Just another example of China parroting Western institutions (and purposeful neutrality) in favor of party control.
  4. Read: So the UK is poorer than Mississippi and — what’s worse — moving the wrong direction. How the tables turn…
  5. People who say “do your own research” are the least likely to do theirs. Listen in.
  6. Read why “you’re not going to make it” as a lone prepper. Invest in your community, for the least painful road to death.
  7. Watch How The Tokyo Metro Is Deep Cleaned (every metro, tram and rail service in the world should be this good!)
  8. Psych! “Whatever society’s priorities are, whether it’s friendship or romantic love or pride in self-accomplishment, marketers will try to attach products to those feelings. The push to remind women that they can buy diamonds on their own, for themselves or for other women in their life, is just the latest strategy from an industry that has long tried to convince the public that its product is more valuable than it really is. So buy your friend a diamond if you want. But the friendship is the rare and beautiful thing, not the diamond.”
  9. Think (ecosystem collapse): “The sudden demise of Indian vultures killed thousands of people
  10. Read: All those “feedback requests” are really just data panhandling.

H/T to PB

Is your major queer friendly?

Towards the end of the last school year, a student at a borrel for our Major (Governance, economics and development) said that some students did not want to major in GED because they did not think it was queer friendly.

This statement made me step back a bit, as I’d never thought of it.

But now that I do, I have no idea where the concern is.

First, development means freedom and flourishing, which benefits the LGBTQ+ communities, as well as the poor, the young and old, and various other minorities. Governance, likewise, is about protecting rights and rule of law, not majoritarian domination by violence.

Second, majors are not queer-friendly or not. People are. So you might run into bigots in the humanities as well as in the hard sciences. Sure, some disciplines spend a lot more time on queer history or gender-ethics, but those disciplines are not always going to be “friendly” to queers, since our job is to analyze and understand — not to pander.

Third, academics can get pretty obscure in their studies and concerns, to the point where their echo-chambers (e.g., economists focussing on GDP) are not just separated from reality, but counterproductive (e.g., to sustainability). The difference between these fetishes and the real world can be extreme — in good and bad ways — so students should be wary of “understanding life” while sheltered in an academic setting.

My one-handed conclusion is that all humans can benefit from the entire range of academic disciplines. And all disciplines can benefit from a diverse set of practitioners bringing their perspectives, experiences and resources into a shared effort to understand our world and our societies. Vive la difference!*

*Just in case some people do not get the joke — Vive la difference is most typically used by self-proclaimed chivalrous men when praising women  — doffs fedora. Simone de Bouvoir had something to say about that. I am using it here as a pun but also to reclaim “difference” to humanity.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read The Case for Letting Malibu Burn (originally from 1995)
  2. Think: Local journalism has collapsed over the past 20 years. It should be brought back — via subsidies — due to the massive savings from journalists uncovering corruption.
  3. Read: Robotaxis are cool, but they will not make city streets better for pedestrians… because “convenience” will lead to more use.
  4. Read: Get rid of trigger warnings if you want to reduce anxiety.
  5. Social media is contributing to teen violence, as youngsters taunt each other online… and shoot each other on the streets.
  6. The bridge between a product design on a computer and the process of automating manufacturing of the product has been made. Factories with far fewer humans are next.
  7. Think: TikTok will give users the option to turn off personalized recommendations in the EU soon. Most won’t switch off “their” addiction.
  8. Listen: Countries differ in economic complexity (not GDP), and that’s the real measure of “development.”
  9. Change: Aristotle’s ten rules for the good life:
    1. Name your fears and face them.
    2. Know your appetites and control them.
    3. Be neither a cheapskate nor a spendthrift.
    4. Give as generously as you can.
    5. Focus more on the transcendent; disregard the trivial.
    6. True strength is a controlled temper.
    7. Never lie, especially to yourself.
    8. Stop struggling for your fair share.
    9. Forgive others, and forbear their weaknesses.
    10. Define your morality; live up to it, even in private.

H/T to AG

When I’m 54…

It’s my 54th birthday today! Woo hoo!

Rather than try to write a poem/song in the style of “When I’m 64,” here are a few thoughts:

  1. I’ve decided to release my Best of Aguanomics (2018) as a free ePub. Initially, I did not want to make a digital version available — thereby forcing people to buy the (door stop) sized book so they could read it on paper (and probably on the toilet), but I realized that the ebook would allow people to browse a chapter a day (455 of them!) or skip around.
    Data: Since releasing the book nearly 5 years ago, I’ve sold 77 copies (and made $14, since I sell as close to cost as possible), so this move won’t put me in poverty 😉
  2. I’ve stepped away from Reddit in two stages: (a) I deleted the Apollo app from my phone and iPad in July, after Reddit killed third-party developers and (b) by unsubscribing to 180 (!) subreddits that were mostly time-wasting click bait. So now I hope to have a healthier, occasionally relationship with the site. My decision to quit other socials (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) has only given me greater joy with time 🙂
  3. I was interested to read this detailed report on world inequality. Although I am not in the top 10 percent of global rich, by cash income, I know that I am very privileged to have my health, friends, a good job and apartment, etc. It’s good to remember when things are going well 🙂
  4. My dad is 90 and in pretty good spirits. My mom died when she was 46 after a long bout with cancer. It’s good to remember that things do not always go according to plan.
  5. My sailing hobby is now more “stable” (compared to Doffer), as my boat (a 1971 Vrijheid re-named Chance) is smaller, more common, closer to my house, and in a club of many others who can teach me more. Nobody comes to the Netherlands for the mountains, but they should come to enjoy the water (sports)!
  6. Why “Chance“? Because there’s a lot that can go right and wrong on a boat, so it’s not a good idea to plan too aggressively. Perfection is an illusion with boats, so I try to remember that “90 percent is good enough”
  7. Speaking of pursuing perfection improvement, I’ve signed up (and been gifted) two wood working courses, so I will have more hands on experience to humble my aspirations!

Seven is enough, I think.


Interesting stuff

  1. Fuck: Mid-winter temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius in South America leave climatologists in disbelief
  2. Read: What do you get when you combine AI-text with Amazon’s terrible “third parties” platform and fake reviews: A slew of rip-off travel guides.
  3. Read: Public pension funds have around 13% of their state employees’ money in “private equity” (PE, aka, leveraged buy outs), which is adding — not removing — risk from returns. (They are desperate for returns, since they do not want to lower pay outs or raise contributions.) The next  (predictable) financial crisis is getting started! Related: Why is PE popular? Dodgy accounting that lets pension managers pretend they are hedging. Listen to this discussion.
  4. Listen: US unions are fighting for a bigger piece of (record) corporate profits. Good.
  5. Think: “An individual from the top 10% of the global income distribution earns €87,200 (USD122,100) per year, whereas an individual from the poorest half of the global income distribution makes €2,800 (USD3,920) per year.”
  6. Listen: Many recent university grads in China cannot find “appropriate” jobs. Watch this space, as joblessness among the educated is a leading driver of revolution.
  7. Read: Another post-water update: “Heat, War and Trade Protections Raise Uncertainty for Food Prices
  8. Americans need to stop whining and deal with struggle. Read on.
  9. Read Why the Populist Right Hates Universities (critical, alternative perspectives)