Ecological and economic systems are alike in that individual agents compete for limited resources, evolve their behaviors in response to interactions with others, and form alternately exploitative and cooperative interactions. The talk looks at the evolution of resource allocation and the evolution of cooperation in dealing with public goods, common pool resources and collective movement. It includes examples from bacteria and slime molds, to vertebrate, to insurance arrangements. Dense, but fascinating stuff, from a recent Santa Fe Institute talk.
- Mice when injected with nanoparticles have night vision, with many implications for future human vision
- The grandmother effect in human lifespan
- Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same
- Lyft files for IPO, having lost a billion last year (full filing here)
- Democracy is no longer the dominant path to prosperity, as autocracy’s share of global GDP passes it
- For the first time ever, “other” now has the largest share of active web servers
- The case for digital Minimalism for parents grows stronger
- It has been possible for three years to game the Champions League qualification process
- Can Medicine Be Cured?, a fierce book by an Irish gastroenterologist about medicine’s failings, especially over-promising, researchism, and a fondness for health hyperbole
- This whole video series by an Irish gastroenterologist is excellent, but this one, in particular, is very good: The stupidest nerve in the human body
- Investors need to stop worshipping false idols, Warren Buffett and Kraft edition
- The case for stealing more, if you have to steal, given smaller sentence increases for larger thefts
- People were somehow briefly optimistic about the printer business, and now they aren’t anymore, as HP Stock Tanks on Bad Sales That Could Get Worse
- If someone were to make a movie about neoliberalism, there should be a starring role for Paul Volcker
- New piezoelectric and triboelectric socks that generate power, track activity, and do everything but find their mates
- Generative adversarial networks vastly improve our ability to predict driver behavior
- Vanguard Cuts ETF Fees, but there isn’t much left to cut
- Kids who spend more time outside in local parks have a lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood
- My mother’s vegetarian diet contributed to her early death. We should all learn from it
- Higher energy efficiency doesn’t deliver lower economy-wide energy use , contrary to many advocates of technology solutions to energy intensity
- Our memory of cultural products — research, people, music, etc. — declines at varying rates, but the decline follows a similar function
- Phone survey response rates have fallen past 6%, and are continuing to tumble
- Twenty years of movement data from a single eagle with a solar-powered GPS
- People are filling a void in their life with work, and it isn’t panning out so well
- When individual behaviors turn competitive, and how we sabotage others and then coast
- Pew Survey: The concerns and challenges of being a U.S. teen
- The dark Norwegiantown that built a giant mirror to send in sunlight
- Evidence is mounting that we are on the road to civilisation collapse. The upside:civilizations collapse all the time.
Two videos worth sharing this week, one recent and one less so.
The Big Short: A Roundtable
The first one is from a roundtable of the cast and director of the finance classic The Big Short, along with writer Michael Lewis. While the interviewer is so-so, at best, the discussion is surprisingly interesting, especially some of the musings about the health effects of being a short-seller, the trouble with being outside the consensus,
Beyond the Pistes: A Winter in the Life of a Ski Patrol
The second is very recent, and it documents a year in the life of a top French ski patrol at a major resort. It is wonderful, haunting, and has breathtaking scenery, but amidst the successes and losses, it is a lovely homage to teamwork, risk management, and mountain life.
Every Friday I’m going to put out a list of five things, somehow related, that are worth thinking about, getting, subscribing to, etc. It could be anything, albeit legal, with the main thing linking them — wait for it — is that there will be five of them.
I’m not the first to do this, of course. You can, among other things, think of this an homage to the excellent Five Books. Whatever, though: These are my Five Things.
This week my list is newsletters. While there are too many of them, of course, almost certainly including this one, they are still useful, filling an interstitial somewhere between tweets, blog posts, and, heaven forfend, columns. The best newsletters combine intelligence, serendipity, commentary, and regularity in the right mix.
My five-picking criteria:
- Not just blog posts that are mailed around, which is perfectly line, but not really a newsletter.
- Not obvious, like Matt Levine’s maddeningly excellent Money Talk. If you don’t subscribe to Matt, that’s on you, and me mentioning it here isn’t going to fix anything. (There are many others like that, like Bill Bishop’s Sinocism, of course, so my focus will be on ones that you’re probably not reading, and that are worth checking out.)
- Not paid. This is a hard one, because I like people getting paid for things, especially me getting paid for things, but this time around I’m focused on free letters.
- Not stocks or investing. While those can be fine, and some are sort of entertaining in small doses (like this one or this one), they are too focused for what I’m trying to do here, and that takes all the fun out of it.
- Fairly regular, but not too regular. I hemmed and hawed on this one, in particular, because I’m hardly one to talk here, but I want newsletters that show up less frequently than Gap promotions, but more frequently than, say US elections. Sadly, that rules out a few excellent ones, like my friend Sam Arbesman’s Cabinet of Wonders, but this why I’m here: to make the tough, completely arbitrary choices.
Btw, notice how I’ve cheated here, saying that I’m going to mention just five newsletters, and I’ve already mentioned five in saying that I won’t mention them below, which means I’m ten newsletters, which is not five, no matter how you think about it. Yes, I’m prone to cheating like that — get used to it.
So, here are five newsletters worth checking out. If I did this list on a different Friday I might very well end up with a different list, but these five will do today.
1) Annie Duke
Annie, a former gambler, wrote a great book about how to think probabilistically, and now she collects her thoughts and puts them out every Friday in a letter. It is smart, informal, and entirely worth reading.
2) 5it: Alexis Madrigal
A man about intellectual town, as well as a journalist, Alexis ranges widely, but always thoughtfully. Topics touched on include the history of capitalism, docks, containers, and the meaning of work. He makes it work, no pun intended-ish.
3) Internal Exile: Rob Horning
Rob writes about consumerism and technology, but does it in a deep and nuanced way. A recent piece about the nature of textual engines and deep fakes was a good example, with it taking issue with both alarmists and scientists in equal measure.
4) Book Marks
A sort of Rotten Tomatoes of books, this is a bit of a cheat on my part, but it’s still useful and overlooked. It puts out a weekly meta-review of books, classifying the tenor of professional reviews from raves to run away, more or less. Many interesting things pop up.
Another pseudo-cheat, but still too wonderfully bizarre to miss. This is a regular compendium of all the latest noteworthy publications in the biomechanics literature. If you only read it for the closing “Unique Topic” and “Pick of the Week”, your applied biological work will be done for the week.
So that’s five newsletters worth checking out. All interesting in their own right, but also a nice cross-section of the sort of things worth tracking when you get outside the beaten path of WSJ/NYT/Medium letters that you don’t need to read because everyone else you know already does and can’t wait to tell you about it.
- Why wordcrime has destroyed the economy
- Jair Bolsonaro’s First 53 Days as President of Brazil Have Been a Resounding, Scandalous Failure
- Goldman Sachs is the central bank of Wikipedia
- Why short-sellers get sick
Healthcare & Sports
- Introducing short selling into a market causes companies to improve internal financial controls
- Historian David Wootton on Adam Smith and the errant Philosophy of Profit, Power and Pleasure
- Hospitals now employ more than 40% of physicians
- The Number Ones: Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold”
- Analyzing the shift from active to passive investing’s impact on financial stability
- An auditor’s track record for accepting high misconduct clients predicts future client misconduct
- The Best Books on Burnout
- There is a 14% increase in the risk of death for each 10% increase in the consumption of highly processed foods
- Nearly a quarter of rural hospitals are on the brink of closure (Full study)
- Falling fertility rates are changing the structure of society as kin disappear
- Freeman Dyson on biological and cultural evolution