Links: The size of political bodies matters, price transparency, loneliness, and more!

* U.S. school districts are too big, and, according to this writer, a larger number of smaller districts would offer more competition. “A larger number of smaller districts” may not be so different from charter schools.

* Essay about John le Carré and his letters.

* Where do all those college administrators come from and what do they do? I’ve not seen real efforts to enumerate who all these administrators are and what exactly they do.

* Open-source hospital price transparency. Good and useful, albeit an effort I expect to take a while to play out.

* “Conservatism as an Oppositional Culture,” which starts with comparisons to LBJ and moves forward in unexpected ways. Is it right? Maybe not, and its causal inferences seem dubious, but it is very interesting, and unusual.

* Markets go up, but they also go down. Who knew?

* “How the US Military is Responding to China.” Detailed, although maybe too optimistic.

* Perspective on crypto. Long-term perspective, that is. Crypto helps enormously in countries without reliable banks and/or central banks. It helps much less in countries with those things. Will the U.S. ever monetize the debt? If it does, then the U.S. will turn out to be less reliable than it looks now.

* “Jack Selby of Thiel Capital is using a new VC fund to invest in Arizona startups.”

* Illiberal values.

* More on loneliness. Loneliness underlies more problems than is commonly assumed, I think.

Links: The nature of trust, the need to create abundance, and more!

* The Anti-Promethean Backlash, which is, among other things, on the need to create plenty and abundance more than scarcity.

* Books on China.

* “Why Trust In Journalism Has Collapsed.” A lot of journalism ranges from “wrong” to “blinkered” to “bullshit.” And people can figure out the parts that are wrong, blinkered, and bullshit in near-real time. I’m not sure what comes next: distributed truth? Something like Astral Codex Ten? Something else? But trust in journalism may collapse because the feedback loop for noting and speaking up about bullshit is so fast, and actual experts in a given field often have more and more accurate things to say about a given topic than the “experts.” I wrote about this sort of thing back in 2015, and I don’t think things have improved since.

* Using desalination to create water abundance. Abundance is good and scarcity is bad, and yet we’ve legally mandated scarcity in many areas, which is also bad.

* “The U.S. Needs More Housing Than Almost Anyone Can Imagine: For Americans to live a productive, prosperous, happy life, homes need to be truly abundant.” Seems obvious to me, yet isn’t public policy.

* “The end of the culture of narcissism” is the title, but it’s a peculiar melange of ideas, many of them claimed to be causal without any evidence. Correlation is not causation!

* Erik Hoel says goodbye to academia and hello to Substack.

* Woody Allen’s movies.

* On Lucian Freud, who’d today be cancelled.

* “Brilliant Jerks, Crazy Hotties, and Other Artifacts of Range Restriction.” Statistics are hard. Or is it “Statistics is hard?” because “statistics” is singular, despite the “s” at the end?

* In praise of slow cookers. The Instant Pot has a slow-cooker function that works fine.

* Not terribly interesting essay on the case for studying literature and the history of literary academic institutions. It feels a little bit like “the case for studying religion,” in an era when religion is mostly over.

* “The End of Vaccines at ‘Warp Speed:’ Financial and bureaucratic barriers in the United States mean that the next generation of Covid vaccines may well be designed here, but used elsewhere.” Important news that isn’t getting the attention it should.

* “How Monogamy and Incest Taboos Made the West,” which is an eccentric review of Joseph Henrich’s book The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.

* On Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis, which looks pretty good right now.

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