Links: The end of a culture, the need for abundance, Inspector Maigret, and more!

* “The Last Member of an Uncontacted Tribe: He lived alone in the forest for twenty-six years before dying last month. What did he experience?” Moving, sad, and beautiful, especially the final paragraph.

* “The Long March of the YIMBYs [“Yes in my backyard”—persons who favor constructing more housing]: Slowly, the tide is starting to turn.”

* “Tech Companies Slowly Shift Production Away From China.” Good, if it’s true.

* “The Case for Abolishing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).” Like the “Patriot Act,” which is not patriotic, NEPA actually harms the environment, rather than helping it. Notice: “If you think a two year, million dollar, 1,000+ page environmental report simply to build new bike lanes in an already developed city seems absurd, you’re not alone.” And, also: “America is absolutely drowning in process, forms, and reviews.”

* “How Europe Stumbled Into an Energy Catastrophe.” “Not building out nuclear power” is the short answer. Notice how many of the plans think about the next months, rather than the next decades. It’s obviously necessary to survive in the short term to get to the long term,

* “The Mysterious Case of Inspector Maigret:” on Georges Simenon and his creation.

* “A Chinese Spy Wanted GE’s Secrets, But the US Got China’s Instead.” On modern spy sagas, which appear to be industrial as much as anything else.

* “I Have Yet to Hear a Satisfactory Answer For Why Adults Care What Young People Think.”

* “The Immorality of ‘The Godfather’.”

* “Transcript: Ezra Klein on the New Supply-Side Economics.” Note: “I come from California, I grew up in Irvine, California. So to watch how liberal, how blue California is and how badly it fails at a lot of the basics of progressive outcomes of making a middle class life affordable for people is to really force yourself to reckon with some things that have gone pretty profoundly wrong in liberal governance.” And also: “Once you begin looking at the paucity of ambition on the supply side, it becomes a little bit hard to stop seeing it.” We’re paying for the scarcity agenda of the last few decades, and we should instead make a lot: in housing, in energy, in education, in subways—and not just in consumer goods.

* “How to Deal with Criticism: 10 Tips for Musicians (and Everyone Else).” Great advice, especially regarding the tension between the need to be able to listen to honest and authentic criticism, while simultaneously ignoring large amounts of bullshit.

* Even at Jacobin mag—not the best venue by any means—they’re figuring out that To Solve the Housing Crisis, We Have to Increase the Housing Supply.”

Links: What it takes to get to genuinely low carbon, the use of cryptocurrencies, and more!

* “The green war on clean energy.” Notice: “But what if nuclear research and plant construction had continued to advance at the pace seen in the 1970s? One Australian researcher concluded: ‘Had the early rates continued, nuclear power could now be around 10% of its current cost.’” And: “Yet it was environmentalists who led the campaign to halt the rollout of the cleanest, and greenest, of all power sources.” Innumeracy makes fools of most of us. Similarly: an article on the need for infrastructure permitting reform. Ignore the given title, which is dumb and clickbait, because the article itself is good. I also recently wrote “Permitting is the big barrier to wind energy right now.”

* On the publishing industry’s brokenness, although I think the truer answer is that the publishing industry, like many glamor industries, has relied on trust funds, rich families, and generalized glamor for decades. A veneer of woke doesn’t change the underlying market dynamics, which is that publishing needs the children of the rich to take low salaries in order to function. Get this: “Though some publishers have raised entry-level salaries to around $45,000 per year…” Per year, in New York City. And “The median salary for those in management in our 2021 survey was $130,000.” $130,000, after a decade plus in the industry, in New York City? Median rent in Manhattan is now above $4,000.

* “Inside the crypto black markets of Argentina.”

* “New malaria vaccine is world-changing, say scientists.”

* “What Schools Are Teaching Your Kids About ‘Gender’.” Maybe.

* “How Reagan Almost Crushed Wokeness.” “Almost” is doing a lot of work in that title, but the review of how civil rights law evolved is useful.

* “Climate Tipping Points May Be Triggered Even If Warming Peaks at 1.5C.”

* The male monkey dance.

* “The Weakness of Xi Jinping.” Ideas rarely, but more commonly now, heard.

* How Mathematics Changed Me. Can be read in tandem with “How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math: the building blocks of understanding are memorization and repetition.”

* On the new Ian McEwan book.

Links: Methane rising, permitting and wind energy, UFOs and the Fermi Paradox, and more!

* “Methane hunters: what explains the surge in the potent greenhouse gas? Levels of the gas are growing at a record rate and natural sources like wetlands are the cause, but scientists don’t know how to curb it.” This is, unfortunately and dangerously, consistent with the Clathrate gun hypothesis.

* Me on how “Permitting is the big barrier to wind energy right now (beyond batteries and fundamental research).” Given what’s happening in Europe, and in parts of the U.S., it would be good to start seriously preparing for problems now. Actually, it’d have been better to start ten or twenty years ago, but now is better than tomorrow; Elon can tweet, seriously, “Order a Tesla Powerwall battery for blackout protection!”, and his advice is good.

* Taking UFOs / Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP:) seriously, as a solution to the Fermi Paradox. “UAP” is the latest Russell Conjugation of “UFO,” since UFO has become too low status, and thus we need an acronym for the same thing with less status baggage.

* “AI Revolution – Transformers and Large Language Models (LLMs).” Don’t be dissuaded by the title: it’s good, thorough, and visionary, particularly at the end.

* “Shruti Rajagopalan talks to Daniel Gross and Tyler about Identifying and Predicting Talent.” Better probably as audio than text, but good as both, and I notice that a podcast I listen to and whose transcript I read get “processed” differently in each medium. I’m not sure what to do with that, but it’s noticeable.

* The rise of liberal hawks, which is deeper and more interesting than it sounds.

* Echopraxia is great and you should read it.

* Profile of Ian McEwan, though I think he’s not willing to admit what seems to be true.

* Consistent with the McEwan profile above: “How Woke Put Paid to Publishing.”

* “The distinctiveness of human aggression,” by interesting man Rob K. Henderson.

* Joyce Carol Oates interview with Philip Roth.

Links: Rome and an Industrial Revolution, economies of scale in construction, and more!

* Maybe Rome was pretty far from an Industrial Revolution. Sadly. I’d thought “lack of printing press” a big precondition, too.

* Is America falling behind China in science?

* Podcast interview with a pseudonymous recent Harvard grad; there is a transcript, too. The material in the first 15 minutes is boring.

* “Why are there so few economies of scale in construction?

* “Workplace diversity programmes often fail, or backfire: Many may do more to protect against litigation than to reduce discrimination.” It may be that what we choose to foreground has important consequences.

* “Is “Woke” just PC with faster internet?” A usefully historical take.

* “Nature: Manuscripts that are ideologically impure and ‘harmful’ will be rejected.” In case you’re wondering whether the sciences are immune to ideological fads.

* A guide to writing online.

* “On Joseph Tainter: The Collapse of Complex Societies.”

* Arguments in favor of intellectual freedom and the University of Austin.

Links: Effective altruism things, skill development, new Puritans, and more!

* “The Reluctant Prophet of Effective Altruism: William MacAskill’s movement set out to help the global poor.” Are most of us practicing ineffective altruism, if we’re practicing altruism at all?  I’d say that high U.S. housing and transit costs reduce the amounts of money normal or normal-ish people might be able to donate, or to send internationally. We’re beggaring ourselves through housing scarcity and that’s bad, along a variety of axes.

* “Guru Overload: Moving on from the figureheads of the latest culture war drama.” On the failures of what was sometimes called “The Intellectual Dark Web.”

* “Can the Visa-Mastercard duopoly be broken?” One hopes.

* “Skills Plateau Because Of Decay And Interference?” Does this argue for breadth in skill development and acquisition, over pure “depth?” I’ve wondered about this topic and now see I’m not the only one who has.

* “How Social Justice Became a New Religion: Our society is becoming less religious. Or is it?” I’m not sure the “How” question is answered, let alone the “why” question, but it is of interest.

* Related to the above: “The progressive puritans will fail: They are preaching to a choir in an empty church.” An argument in favor of fun, which has fallen out of official favor.

* “The Suicide of the American Historical Association?”

* Reasons Ted Gioia is publishing his next book on Substack.

* Cracker Barrel leaders realize the utility of ignoring Twitter mobs.

* “Suketu Mehta: ‘As goes India, so goes democracy’.” And a take on democracy falling in India.

* “‘Rings Of Power’ Showrunners Clarify That Any Resemblance To The Works Of Tolkien Is Purely Coincidental.”

Links: Writers, academia, thinking about thinking, and more!

* Similarities between programming and writing.

* “Why William Deresiewicz Left Academia (Since You’re Wondering).” He was pushed out, as he says; the whole essay is highly quotable, but I’ll note that Deresiewicz “went [to grad school], in other words, because I wanted to read books: because I loved books; because I lived my deepest life in books; because art, particularly literary art, meant everything to me.” But he found there that “Loving books is not why people are supposed to become English professors, and it hasn’t been for a long time. Loving books is scoffed at (or would be, if anybody ever copped to it).” This may seem curious, but the way the humanities professoriate has evolved is curious. Deresiewicz says that “what disgusted me the most was not the intellectual corruption. It was the careerism.” The overall essay is consistent with my own writing in “What you should know BEFORE you start grad school / PhD programs in English Literature: The economic, financial, and opportunity costs.”

* The midwit trap, which doesn’t do the essay justice; it concerns the way simple solutions often outperform complex ones, and the challenges of understanding both problem and solution spaces, among other things.

* “Nonprofit boards of directors usually exist to be controlled by the organization’s executive director“—something most people don’t realize but more people should.

* “Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read,” using phonics and direct instruction, which are old, effective, and yet disdained by many people in the education-industrial complex. That we’ve not seen stronger efforts to reform the education of educators seems odd to me.

* Tight versus loose cultures.

* “Why Are American Teenagers So Sad and Anxious?

* Argument for re-building higher education.

* “You can’t afford to be an artist and/or author, let alone be respected.” Not exactly my view, but of interest.

* On Philip K. Dick. I think Dick understood best that many if not most people don’t want to be free.

Links: The writer-obsessive, escape from the ivory tower, and more!

* On the many facets of Danielle Steel.

* A cyclical theory of subcultures.

* Argument that China “can’t” afford to invade Taiwan, which is interesting, apart from the fact that many countries that couldn’t “afford” to invade their neighbors nonetheless did so anyway. Russia can’t afford to invade Ukraine and yet has done so.

* “Why the Chair of the Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission Thinks The US Government Is Preventing a Real Investigation Into the Pandemic.”

* “Escape from the Ivory Tower,” which concerns the inhumanity of many humanities professors and departments. Perhaps one could links it to an article on why it is not effectively possible to write academic satires any more. You may have thought the Sokal Text affair was unfortunate, but compare it to this!

* “MeToo killed Game of Thrones; Nobody wants a sexless prequel.” Maybe: I guess we’ll see, but I think the dreary, incoherent final two seasons were the bigger problem.

* Book about the homogeneity of writing and sensibility from MFA programs.

* Good and humane essay on Philip Larkin, though with a bad title, and I admire this line: “The greatest writers will always be those who have suffered dully all the wrongs of man, and yet remain alive to a greater wisdom and beauty beyond what they could afford themselves.”

* “Hispanic Voters Are Normie Voters.” Sanity is good.

* Colleges engage in extensive price discrimination.

* “Milwaukee Tool Raises the Bar with New USA Factory.”

Links: The need for sunlight, modular homes, batteries, and more!

* “Vantem Global Builds Modular Homes Out of Energy-Efficient Panels.” They look good, and housing construction has been stubbornly resistant to efficiency improvements.

* “The U.S. made a breakthrough battery discovery — then gave the technology to China.” Maybe we shouldn’t do that.

* “Skin exposure to UVB light induces a skin-brain-gonad axis and sexual behavior.” It’s in Cell and thus SFW.

* “Sensitivity Readers Are the New Literary Gatekeepers.” Which can’t be helping fiction sales: we used to make fun of the Soviets for insisting on doctrinaire art. Now, big publishers insist on it, which is particularly odd given the vitality of gatekeeper-free Internet writing.

* Has Technological Progress Stalled?

* A Canceled Cancellation at the University of Michigan: “The University of Michigan Medical School just took a bold stand for academic freedom.” I’ve noted many negative examples but think it useful to also cite some positive ones.

* A plan to tax the very large endowments of some universities.

* The national housing shortage is likely in the four to twenty million range.

* “Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals.” The first paragraphs are consistent with previous actions and yet still horrifying.

* “‘The Literary Mafia’ Review: People of the Book.” Jews, books, and ideas.

* An essay against Puritanism, though that’s not the title the author uses. It’s a rant.

Links: The possibility of progress, Google’s regressions, abundance, and more!

* The NYT finally figures it out: “Why It’s So Hard to Find an Affordable Apartment in New York: There simply aren’t enough places to live, a crisis decades in the making and one that poses a threat to the city’s continuing recovery.” They could’ve learned about supply and demand a few decades ago, but “late” is better than “never.” Perhaps anti-market bias led to the paper’s long-running habit of blaming anything and everything else.

* Lowercase Capital wants carbon removal and storage startups. Their call is also a decent overview of some descriptions of where things stand now. I’m a Climeworks subscriber.

* Rob K. Henderson on his experience teaching at the University of Austin, a school focused on open inquiry. That “open inquiry” is an unusual specialization today seems notable.

* “A Russian Sociologist Explains Why Putin’s War Is Going Even Worse Than It Looks.” Maybe.

* Someone on Twitter wrote something like: “Boomers spent decades prohibiting the construction of anything except single-family houses lament that they now can’t find anything but single-family houses as they try to downsize now.” Parochial zoning hurts us all, eventually.

* “He made a joke about land acknowledgements. Then the trouble began: When Professor Stuart Reges exercised his free speech rights, the University of Washington retaliated. So we’re suing the school.”

* “Why Study the History of Mathematics/Science?

* Google has good, in-house desktop Linux.

* “Apple warns suppliers to follow China rules on ‘Taiwan’ labeling.” Remember: with Apple, 1984 won’t be like 1984. No word on what’s happening in 2024.

* “The High-Stakes Race to Engineer New Psychedelic Drugs.” It appears that the purpose of the race is primarily to find patentable drugs, because those are the only ones worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars on to get them through the FDA maze.

* “Why do we so consistently underestimate progress?

* Argument that Google’s search results are now bad, which resonates with me: just now, I was trying to figure out whether there are still consistent problems with MacOS Monterey and Spotlight, and most of the results were blogspam.

Links: The need to build, the need for leadership, book banning, and more!

* “The New Numbers on [New] Music Consumption Are Very Ugly.” Perhaps calling it “music consumption” is also ugly, relative to “listening to music?” Plus, music is not really “consumed:” it remains after it’s listened to.

* Argument that Twitter and social media aren’t the real problems bedeviling institutions. Not exactly my view—I’m closer to Haidt, I think—but interesting.

* Why can’t America build passenger trains? But, in good news, we may see NEPA reforms in the fall, which are likely necessary if we’re going to build the stuff we need.

* “College financial aid is a sham based on what colleges think families will pay.” Obvious, and yet not widely acknowledged as such. It does seem like more people that there is a lot of paying for the party and other kinds of problems going on in higher ed.

* On the global leadership deficit.

* “Corporate wokeness keeps falling short when it comes to China.”

* “Florida started penalizing bureaucratic delay. Housing permits spiked.” Some states are serious about human flourishing and livability; some aren’t. Rhetoric and reality often differ, too.

* An argument that the Russian economy is imploding.

* “Is It Worse to Ban a Book, or Never Publish It?” Which links notably to “The Many Faces of Literary Censorship: Censoriousness on the left increasingly joins moral panic on the right.” But, that said, I think the simple issue is that publishing books is being pushed aside by social media, a secular process that doesn’t seem to be slowing.

* Is everything—that is, everyone—getting old? Note:

There is one last possibility: that part of what we’re seeing is measurement error. If actors are getting older and the music we listen to is getting older, it may be because TikTok stars, Twitch streamers, and Roblox creators aren’t being counted among entertainers, even if they have a similar-sized audience. One thing that drags down the average age of Fortune 500 executives is when tech startups with young founders go public, but many of those startups don’t have the revenue to qualify for the Fortune 500, even if their market cap puts them in the S&P.

Some fields are rife with change and activity, while others are bureaucratic and sclerotic. I’m struck by how, for example, Robert Maynard Hutchins became the president of the University of Chicago at age 29 (don’t worry, this didn’t happen recently). Today, startups and tech seem to be the only places that judge on merit first and age later, if at all.

* Some peculiarities in a Dept. of Energy funding announcement, which is probably not of interest to most of you but may be to a few.

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