Monthly Archives: May 2019

Strong Towns: Do You Want to Know What Works?

Strong Towns: Do You Want to Know What Works? “The building of cities shifted from being a co-creation of the people who lived there to a technical undertaking by professionals. The method of change shifted from a painstaking craft to more of an assembly line. The mature city was assembled incrementally on a continuum of […]

Why Are the Prices So Damn High?

Why Are the Prices So Damn High? “The price of services relative to goods has been rising because productivity in services has increased more slowly than productivity in goods. At the same time, the services sector has been growing as a share of the economy. […] Because society is moving more resources into lower-productivity sectors, […]

The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet “Imagine a dark forest at night. It’s deathly quiet. Nothing moves. Nothing stirs. This could lead one to assume that the forest is devoid of life. But of course, it’s not. The dark forest is full of life. It’s quiet because night is when the predators come out. […]

Clemens on minimum wage

Clemens on minimum wage “But let me express a doubt. Why do we discuss minimum wages so much? I think they irritate free-market economists because they are such a clear, simple, and paradigmatic stupid idea. The first insight of your Econ 101 class is that price controls destroy markets: We see it over and over […]

Civilisational collapse has a bright past – but a dark future

Civilisational collapse has a bright past – but a dark future “Finally, it’s significant that the world has become more networked and complex. This enhances our capabilities, but makes systemic failures more likely. A mathematical-systems study in Nature in 2010 found that interconnected networks are more prone to random failure than isolated ones. Similarly, while […]

Rules for wrongdoers

Rules for wrongdoers “On the one hand, Cicero says we can organize our interactions with words; and on the other, we can organize them through force. The Kantian thought is that this distinction from Cicero gives us the resources not only to see the difference between war and peace, but to see how both the […]

Going Critical

Going Critical “But as much as I’ve thought about networks over the years, I didn’t appreciate (until very recently) the importance of simple diffusion. This is our topic for today: the way things move and spread, somewhat chaotically, across a network. Some examples to whet the appetite: Infectious diseases jumping from host to host within […]

Knausgaard’s Secular Confession

Knausgaard’s Secular Confession “In Buddhism, on the contrary, absolute detachment is an end in itself. Since all attachments entail suffering, only absolute detachment can bring about the elimination of suffering that Buddhism holds out as your salvation. What ultimately matters is not who you are or what you do, what ultimately matters is that you […]

The Tyranny of Ideas

The Tyranny of Ideas “Lately, I’ve amused myself by operating through the lens that the world is run by ideas, rather than people. We tend to discuss mimetic effects in relation to mass consumption – its distributive effects – but less-frequently discussed is how mimetics affect creators themselves. I like thinking of people as vessels, […]

Descartes was wrong: ‘a person is a person through other persons’

Descartes was wrong: ‘a person is a person through other persons’ “A grimmer example might be solitary confinement in prisons. The punishment was originally designed to encourage introspection: to turn the prisoner’s thoughts inward, to prompt her to reflect on her crimes, and to eventually help her return to society as a morally cleansed citizen. […]

Rent Control Poem

Rent Control Poem “There is a very long list of documented harms that rent control causes. It provides a strong disincentive to build more rental housing. It drives landlords to reduce spending on maintaining their units until the quality of the housing has drawn down to the point where it matches the allowed rent. And […]