Worthwhile Reading

Cultural Values and Productivity.  “When I investigate which country-of-origin characteristics most closely correlate with human capital, cultural values are the only robust predictor. This relationship persists among children of migrants. Consistent with a plausible cultural mechanism, individuals whose origin places a high value on autonomy hold a comparative advantage in positions characterized by a low degree of routinization.”  This ties in with Garrett Jones’ book The Culture Transplant, which I mentioned in my 2023 book roundup a few days ago.

Ruxandra argues that elite thought in our society has shifted toward excessive caution (safetyism), skepticism of technology, and zero-sum thinking and goes on to say ‘This shift poses what I believe to be the defining ideological challenge of our time.’  Also a continuation post, including an interesting chart showing the incidence of words related to progress versus those related to caution, in English, French, and German books.

Anna Mitchell suggests that “Westerners aren’t good at love because we’re unsuccessfully trying to reconcile two opposing love traditions. The first is a “passionate love” inherited from the Medieval courtly tradition that gives us a sense of spiritual transcendence that we’re desperately lacking in our secular age. The second is the Christian ideal of committed love in marriage, that makes us feel known as individuals. Retrofitting life-altering passion into the structure of marriage hasn’t worked well – as witnessed in sky-high divorce rates and a flood of negativity about dating”…”However, as social technologies have emerged over the past ~15 years, it also feels like “passionate love” of the 90s romcoms – where you meet someone in real life and get swept away – doesn’t hold the same cultural power. It’s not our only route to transcendence in a secular age. We already HAVE a reality-replacing option on a small screen.”

And from Justin Murphy:  “I think dating and marriage are broken because people simply have too many ideas in their heads. Many of them are correct in certain contexts, but none of them is universally true. The calculation overdetermines the encounter and love simply cannot bloom. My evidence is simply that every man and every woman I know who is dating and looking for marriage has so many notions—what they’re looking for, what they’re trying to avoid, what is a deal-breaker, what is essential, but also rigid interpretations of what various behaviors mean, what certain body language means, and so on.”  Reminds me of my old post about The Hunt for the Five-Pound Butterfly.

The personality and politics of 263 occupations.

Assyria, the First Empire.

A mental model megathread.  Some samples…

Example #13:  “Licensing Effect: Believing you’re good can make you behave bad. Those who consider themselves virtuous worry less about their own behavior, making them more susceptible to ethical lapses. A big cause of immorality is self-righteous morality”…and Example #14:  “Preference Falsification: If people are afraid to say what they really think, they will instead lie. Therefore, punishing speech – whether by taking offence or by threatening censorship – is ultimately a request to be deceived.”

Digital Logic, Implemented Mechanically…atomic scale, smaller than the smallest conventional logic gates.  Conceptually similar to classical railroad switch and signal interlocking; can apparently operate at speeds up to 500 MHz.

The history of videogame revenue.  Shown as $185B in 2023.

From Samizdata: “The shift from “it’s immoral to tell another culture’s story” to “it’s impossible to tell another culture’s story, but in any case, one shouldn’t try for moral reasons” is part of a process Pluckrose and Lindsay describe as “reification”, which emerged after I’d left the ivory tower and commenced moving companies around and drafting commercial leases for a living. Once reified, postmodern abstractions about the world are treated as though they are real things, and accorded the status of empirical truth. Contemporary social justice activism thus sees theory as reality, as though it were gravity or cell division or the atomic structure of uranium.”

Ilya Bratman, a linguist and Hillel leader (originally from the Soviet Union) reports on what he sees among students at NYC public colleges.

Sputnik + 66

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the Soviet Unions launch of its Sputnik earth satellite.

There’s a great memoir, Rockets and People, by Boris Chertok. The author worked on Soviet & Russian missile and space programs over a span of many years; he has many interesting stories to tell and many interesting characters (quite  few of them who were indeed Characters) to portray.  I reviewed the book here.

Worthwhile Reading and Viewing

Allocation of IQ to thinking about relationships–different in men and women.  So argues this article, which is linked and discussed in a thread by Rob Henderson at Twitter.

The Great Untethering–school choice and remote work.

East of the Mississippi–19th century American landscape photography.

How Allied mass production drove the victory over the Axis powers. A YouTube documentary, which I haven’t seen yet but which looks promising.

What kinds of people are attracted to mass movements?  “(Eric) Hoffer emphasizes that creative people–those who experience creative flow–aren’t usually attracted to mass movements.”  (Twitter)  Makes sense, but is this really true?  Seems to me that there were quite a few creative scientists and artists who were strongly attracted to Communism, and I can think of at least one supposedly-creative philosopher who was strongly attracted to Naziism.

The Real Roaring Twenties Was… the 1720s.  So argues Anton Howes in this article.  His Twitter feed is here.

A 3D Reconstruction of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan.