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

Interesting stuff

  1. China is taking more power as Trump abandons global bodies.
  2. This Belgian artist helps us re-imagine our digital privacy
  3. American crazy (QAnon) hits the Netherlands. (I’m secretly hoping that QAnon is actually Sasha Baron Cohen trolling the fuck out of idiots, but Russian agents are more likely. Sad.)
  4. Lots of Overnight Tragedies, No Overnight Miracles
  5. America’s Fatal 1618 Project (aka the new 30 Years War)
  6. White Americans can say “strange” names when it suits them. When they cannot, they merely reveal their casual racism.
  7. A Venezuelan explains the REAL value of Bitcoin
  8. The beginning of house music (“he thought the music was a little slow because he was a heroin addict, so he sped it up…)
  9. The Karen meme morphs into racist misogyny
  10. A former PR man for American health insurers blows the whistle on the industry’s conspiracy to slander Canadian healthcare
  11. Cats are far worse for birds than anything else… including wind turbines:

H/T to CD

Interesting stuff

  1. A great PSA for “clean water in a packet”
  2. The roots of “wokefulness” in academia
  3. Some Russian academics published an article [paywall] proposing to use crypto-currencies as an “academic payment system”, much like the system Jens and I proposed 10 years ago. I hope they succeed!
  4. Why are cities so expensive? (hint: safety regulations)
  5. Three Leiden professors on the Trump-Biden debate (and US politics)
  6. From fascist to communist to green pigs
  7. What is philosophy?
  8. John Snow used maps to identify the source of the 1854 cholera outbreak
  9. Emily Oster is helping families raise their kids and parents understand Covid school risks, but she’s “not publishing enough” academic research. A good example of wrong incentives in the academic world.
  10. The best forecasts quantify potential risks without limiting “interesting” possible scenarios

Interesting stuff

  1. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s “digital minister”, is an original thinker
  2. So Moynihan was wrong about “black families”? Listen to this.
  3. San Francisco is losing its Private Investigators
  4. Margaret Atwood sees the darkness of our times — and how to resist
  5. The economics of vending machines (a lot has changed since I ran one!)
  6. How targeted (vote! stay home!) political advertising works 
  7. Thomas Friedman looks at US politics through a foreign policy lens
  8. Gaming chairs are getting better at supporting immobility, which is bad for your circulation (and probably your soul), but also part of the “retreat from reality” I predicted for a good part of society.
  9. Anne Appelbaum on the twilight of democracy (the comments to this podcast leave me worried for America; seems that lots of people are excited to trade freedom for controls on “left-wing terrorists” [sic]. Read Jacob’s Dark Age Ahead (2005) for more.
  10. An over-caffinated guy says “don’t get into watches!” (Too late 😉

Interesting stuff

    1. When we lose weight, where does it go? (Hint: Water!)
    2. A view on what Covid will bring, from 6 months ago
    3. Who steals “famous art”? Underworld criminals looking for swag
    4. China’s civil war isn’t over (bad news for Taiwan)
    5. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is setting up a “futures market” for water based on California water trades. I think this is a bad idea b/c (1) there’s no “commodity water” equivalent to oil (water prices reflect unique local and regulatory considerations) and (2) there’s no easy way to store or deliver water, due to its weight and low value per unit (a barrel of oil is worth $40; a barrel of [potable tap water] water is worth about $0.16; agricultural water is worth 1% of that, or less).
    6. Equality is not as useful as equity:
    7. Interesting details on how the airline industry is “melting down”
    8. Tired of experts? Lobbyists? Activists? Check out the UK’s Citizen Assembly format and how they approached climate change
    9. How a Chinese millionaire disrupted damaged BitTorrent by trying to rip off people via his crypto-scam
    10. Health care in rich countries: The US ranks very low due to high costs and chaotic results (this is even before Covid!). The NL does well 😉

H/T to AL