ARTICLES, A DUCK CHART, AND A COMEDY SPECIAL
The World Really is Getting Better by Derek Thompson: It may not always feel like it, but for the average human, life has gotten better over the last 30 years. A lot better! This isn’t to say everything is great, or that we shouldn't worry about the issues the world currently faces, but it’s also important to recognize how dramatically life has improved for most people.
Cato the Younger - the Most Interesting Stoic Ever? by What is Stoicism?: Cato the Younger knew what he stood for and stood up for those values - even when it cost him his life. We could use a few more Catos today…
It Starts with Inflation by Ray Dalio: In one of his latest posts, Ray Dalio points out how inflation is likely the key to what happens next economically.
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds by Elizabeth Kolbert: “Mercier and Sperber prefer the term ‘myside bias.’ Humans, they point out, aren’t randomly credulous. Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own….
“The Gormans, too, argue that ways of thinking that now seem self-destructive must at some point have been adaptive. And they, too, dedicate many pages to confirmation bias, which, they claim, has a physiological component. They cite research suggesting that people experience genuine pleasure—a rush of dopamine—when processing information that supports their beliefs. ‘It feels good to ‘stick to our guns’ even if we are wrong,’ they observe.”
Biology Enables, Culture Restricts by Farnam Street: Years ago, the saying, “That’s not natural” was a common response to a behaviour or lifestyle that was frowned upon. In his wonderful book, Sapiens, an expansive examination of the history of humans, Yuval Noah Harari shows there is very little that isn’t “natural”, given the propensity and need for DNA to mutate. Rather, culture is the agent of restriction. As a result, the expression “Biology Enables, Culture Restricts” stuck with me and is one of my favourites. This post by Farnam Street explains this idea more fully.
The Discovery of the X-Ray by Delanceyplace: Ever wonder how X-rays were invented? Like a number of other inventions, it wasn’t intentional.
Illusions of Knowledge by Howard Marks: The urge to peer beyond the horizon is strong. So strong, in fact, we’re often lured into following those who make predictions for a living - despite knowing how accurate their track record is. I tend to agree with Warren Buffet’s notion that predictions tell you more about the person making the prediction than what happens in the future.
In his latest newsletter, legendary investor Howard Marks expands on this idea, while providing examples both historical and personal.
Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages - Niall Ferguson in discussion with Dan Jones: To get my bearings, I watched this interview before starting Dan Jones’ book, Powers and Thrones. It turns out the Middle Ages also faced a number of the issues we’re dealing with today, namely: climate change, pandemic, mass migration and technological revolutions.
The Pursuit of Worldly Wisdom by Farnam Street: Every time I read this article, I’m reminded of how little I know, why I need to keep learning, and how much fun the process can be. If you ever wonder why acquiring worldly wisdom is so important, read this and you’ll wonder no longer!
An Environmentalist Gets Lunch by Works in Progress: This short article, which includes two great charts, sets the record straight on some commonly held environmental beliefs. The first chart illustrates greenhouse emissions along the food chain. The second shows the safest and cleanest sources of energy.
The Solar Power Duck Curve Explained by Visual Capitalist: “Since solar power relies on the Sun, peak solar production occurs around midday, when electricity demand is often on the lower end. As a result, energy production is higher than it needs to be, and net demand—total demand minus wind and solar production—falls. Then, when evening approaches, net demand increases, while solar power generation falls.
This discrepancy results in a net demand curve that takes the shape of a duck, and the duck curve gets more pronounced each year, as more solar capacity is added and net demand dips lower and lower at midday.”
Unfortunately this duck curve creates two problems: it can overstress the grid and it makes other sources of energy, like coal and nuclear, less efficient when their midday production is curtailed. The solution is to create adequate ways (ex. batteries and pumped storage - see below) to store the excess energy for use later in the day as energy demand peaks.
China Aims to Start Work on 270GW of Pumped Storage by 2025 by David Rogers: China is making major investments into pumped storage.
South Korea’s Plan to Raise Their Birth Rate: In an attempt to increase the world’s lowest birth rate, South Korea will pay almost $9,000US in newborn child allowances.
Nate Bargatze - The Tennessee Kid: After less hits than misses when looking for comedy specials, friends recommended Nate Bargatze. We weren't disappointed. It was funny and we continued laughing about it for days afterwards!