- A few links of interest regarding the recent 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Politico published an oral history of the Bush Admin staff and non-political Presidential staff’s harrowing day abroad Air Force One on 9/11. NPR follows up on a profile of a promenant 9/11 widow first profiled by NPR a decade ago. NPR also profiles an airline employee who checked many of the 9/11 hijackers into the doomed flight. Esquire considers the picture of the so called “falling man” and the controversy surrounding publication of the picture. I recommend recontextualizing yourself to that horrible and world changing day by watching the live news coverage of that day as the events unfolded. 15 years later, the horrible events of 9/11 are no less striking. For those born or coming of age after those events, it’s likely hard to grasp the magnitude or feelings of that day. Here’s to hoping that cohort never has a comparable day to live the qualia of that experience.
- Growing up, I was always a tremendous fan of dystopian fiction. From Orwell to Kafka to Huxley and more, I’ve always both enjoyed these works of fiction, both as enjoyed consumption of fiction and as books that were formative to my intellectual development. The always outstanding BrainPicker blog recently had an interesting link to a piece by Neil Gaiman on Huxley and more broadly, dystopian, “speculative fiction” generally. There are many interesting insights in the piece but one quote, captured below, really gripped me:
“The important thing,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in contemplating the cultural role of speculative fiction and the task of its writer, “is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live.
- Election & Regime Uncertainty
- Ninja Economics, one of my favorite feeds on Twitter, posts a chart (shown below) from the Wall Street Journal’s survey of professional economists showing the cohort’s increasing belief in recent months that perceptions of the 2016 election is harming the economy. It’s an interesting result worth considering. Politico’s January narrative-based survey of 23 top economist on the 2016 economy was filled with similar early concern. I suspect (and the narrative responses show) that much of the risk concern among economists is focused on concerns about a Trump presidency. But it’s also willing to consider the concept of “regime uncertainty.” Economist Robert Higgs developed the concept, described here, and has written a recent article on his perceptions of how regime uncertainty is affecting the economy in recent years for the Foundation for Economic Education.
- Jerry Brito, Fred Wilson, and Mark Andreessen (links direct to respective Twitter account) were recognized in Politico’s “top 50” list of those impacting politics, public policy, and society—their recognition is well deserved. Brito, formerly of the Mercatus Center and founder of the Bitcoin-focused think named the Coin Center, and Wilson and Andreessen, venture capitalists invested strongly in Bitcoin-involved firms, are three of the “must-follow” thinkers on Bitcoin generally, its financial upside, the public policy implications (and risk to Bitcoins viability from bad policy), and the broader implications of “block chain” technology to deeply revolutionize society. Links to content to some of Brito, Wilson, and Andreessen’s content linked here. Brito’s Primmer on Bitcoin for the Mercatus Center is highly recommended, as is Andreessen’s 2014 NYTimes article describing why he’s bullish on Bitcoin. As a bonus, embedded below is the Onion’s “Don’t Understand Bitcoin? This Man Will Mumble An Explanation At You.”
- The UK-based Adam Smith Institute’s Executive Director had an interesting essay on why he is a “neo-liberal,” why fellow neo-liberals should embrace the left-wing slur wholeheartedly, and why it is distinct from “libertarianism,” a moniker I often use for myself. Interesting food for thought. I agree with much of it. Aditionally, he has another great take on proactive steps the UK can and should take to embrace globalism post-Brexit.
- The Atlantic shares a stunning video of bacteria evolving antibiotic resistance in “real time” (real time in question because the 2+ week timeline is speed up to 2 minutes). To parse the impact of the video, this is the rise of a deep, global threat to humanity visually displayed in terrifying form. Though the topic has indeed received coverage, it’s deeply under covered in perspective to its importance. Previously treatable infections will kill millions. One of histories most impactful human innovations and trimuphs of science and human ingenuity is unraveling right before our eyes due to the triumph of nature’s capacity for evolution (literally in the video, embedded below). Note, for those who missed the terrifying news, that bacteria strains resistant to all known antibiotics, previously only found living in the stomachs of pigs in China, have not only now been seen in humans, but also now in the United States.
- The New York Times’ Upshot vertical maps the prevalence of gay marriage in America as a percent of total marriages by county.