Worthwhile Reading, Viewing, and Listening

The Cathedral of May

But here’s May Day in LA, as celebrated by the Los Angeles Teachers Union, along with other organizations

Cost of the student debt ‘cancellation’ is estimated at .9 trillion to 1.4 trillion.

In addition to paying for those student loans, get ready for much higher electric bills if Biden’s executive order is sustained.

Colorized 1890s videos of daily life in countries around the world

‘Woke’ hierarchy and an upper-class underclass

A former ‘woke’ woman.  And another one.

How much will the campus chaos hurt the Democrats?

Biden compared with Disraeli

Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of Starbucks:

The thing we didn’t do enough of is really attack the occasional customer with delivering and communicating value to them in a more aggressive manner,” said Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan. (speaking on the chain’s declining market share in the U.S.)

Pythia Capital says:

This sentence does not mean anything. One reason to read lots of transcripts is you find 95% of CEOs talk like this. They use jargon because they have not thought deeply about anything; they don’t know how to create value. People who cannot explain a complex subject simply usually do not understand that subject. When you stumble upon a management team that DOES know how to create value it is magical. 

I think 95% is too high an estimate, but blather like the above is depressingly common, and not only reflects a lack of thought but contributes to lack of coherent thought.  Even more than in business, the phenomenon especially common among politicians and among the followers of political ideologies.

Related: see The Costs of Formalism and Credentialism.

Worthwhile Reading

Academia Versus Civilization, at Quillette

A talk by Jensen Huang, founder & CEO of NVDIA, at Stanford.  Very, very good.  Related post and discussion.

Ruxandra Teslo notes that student protestors in the 1960s wanted less bureaucracy and more freedom…today, most of them seem to want less freedom and more bureaucracy.

It’s not the phones, says Marc Andreessen, referring to the psychological dysfunction that seems to afflict so many of today’s young people.  He’s responding to a post by Jash Dholani, who says “the young aren’t driving, f******, and drinking because high energy activity is fundamentally incompatible with modern ethics. If you’re always told to be harmless (but also guilty!) then your innate will to power withers. You vegetate. Man, the greatest animal, turned to plant.”

Elon Musk says:

Many movies exist about a lone inventor in a garage having a eureka moment, but almost none about manufacturing, so it’s underappreciated by the public. Compared to the insane pain of reaching high-volume, positive-margin production, prototypes are a piece of cake.

(Not many such movies,  but one that comes to mind is Valley of Decision, a 1945 film centered around family-owned steel mill in Pittsburgh.  I reviewed the movie, and the book on which it is based, here.  Also, there’s Executive Suite, a film from 1954 which involves executive succession at a furniture manufacturer…mentioned in a batch of reviews that I posted here)

In a comment at an earlier version of this post at Ricochet, Gary McVey noted that

“the eastern Europeans (in other words, the Communists, if not always the Soviets) were pretty good about trying to publicize the drama of start-up, the challenges of production. When we mock those days for films “about a couple falling in love at the tractor factory”, we are mocking something that, if you actually see the films, is in fact objectively a good thing. Some of them, by the Poles, Hungarians, and Czechs, were good. The best of them had little or nothing to do with Marxist theories, just the everyday achievements of construction, engineering, and metalwork that sated Western audiences found dull as dishwater.

A tractor factory’s a good thing to have, if you care to eat. There was nothing contemptible about making movies about it.”

Ashwin Varma argues that the usual narrative about WWII industrial production is defective, in that it does not give sufficient credit to the role of government.

The Department of Education embarked on a project to modernize and simplify the process for applying for student aid.  It is not going well.

The Biden administration is supporting the reopening of a nuclear plant in Michigan.  As Stephen Green says, it’s the right thing to do, but the Democrats doing it reeks of desperation.

gCaptain is a good source on the Baltimore bridge disaster and on all matters nautical.

In my post Visit to a Noteworthy Robot, I described a trip to a store equipped with Amazon’s no-check-out system.  Now, Amazon has decided to drop this system in most of the stores in which it is being used…problem is that too much human intervention (1000 people in India reviewing images that the AI can’t reliably interpret) to be cost-effective.

Cultural Theory of Mind and the consequences of not having it, especially the foreign-policy consequences.

Interesting chart: the ratio of commodity prices to the S&P 500.

An argument that the theft of national sovereignty at the Euro level was orchestrated entirely by legal elites – not political, much less economic, ones.

What kind of people tend to block (what they think are) sources of misinformation?

GE’s energy business has now been spun off as a separate corporation, GE Vernova.  They seem to be pretty well-positioned in nuclear; it will be interesting to see how much emphasis they put on this sector vis-a-vis their gas and wind businesses.

Speaking of nuclear, here’s a chart on the temperature ranges required for various industrial processes versus the temperature ranges available from various types of reactors.

Coal Mining Songs

In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miner is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the
soil. He is a sort of caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.

–George Orwell

Whatever the downsides of coal mining have been, Orwell was certainly correct about its importance to the building of our civilization.

And coal mining has also inspired an extraordinary number of good songs…indeed, coal seems almost up there with the sea as a source of musical inspiration.

Some of the songs that come to mind include…

Coal Tattoo, Billy Edd Wheeler

Dark as a Dungeon, Tennessee Ernie Ford

Coming of the Roads, Billy Edd Wheeler

The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore

Daddy’s Dinner Bucket, Ralph Stanley

Last Train from Poor Valley, Norman Blake

Paradise, John Prine

Coal Mining Man, The Roys


Dumb Company Tricks


When General Motors began outlining plans in 2020 to fully switch to electric vehicles, it didn’t account for one critical factor: Many of the battery minerals needed to fulfill its plans were still in the ground. 

“I remember seeing a report from our raw-materials team at the time saying, ‘There is plenty of lithium out there. There is plenty of nickel’,” said Sham Kunjur, an industrial engineer now in charge of securing the raw materials for GM’s batteries. “We will buy them from the open market.”

GM executives soon came to discover how off the mark those projections were, and now Mr. Kunjur’s 40-person team is scouring the globe for these minerals. 

Of course,  the Biden administration’s energy policy basically does the same kind of assuming, but in their case on the scale of the entire US energy infrastructure.