What I'm Reading (Oct. 5)

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Let’s play Unintended consequences
Reassessing the Luddites
Aging and Martin Scorsese
Lie, mistruth, or editing?

“What do government cheese, a war on emus, and chicken cannibalism have in common? If you guessed that they’re all real-world unintended consequences of agricultural policies…well, we’re pretty impressed actually.”

That is from Marginal Revolution University. Unintended consequences often follow policy decisions, and most after-the-fact pundits rail against them; how could these not be foreseen? Of course, unintended may include unforeseen, but why ruin a good screed? Marginal Revolution lets you make the policy calls in this interactive lesson on unintended consequences. Give it a whirl: Unintended Consequences A choose-your-own-adventure game that reveals how policy choices yield unforeseen results.


“The term Luddite is often used incorrectly to describe an exhausted and embittered populace that wants technology to go away. But the actual Luddites were highly engaged with technology and skilled at using it in their work in the textile industry. They weren't an anti-tech movement but a pro-labor movement, fighting to prevent the exploitation and devaluation of their work by rapacious company overlords.”

It's an opinion piece for sure, but it looks at what may or may not have been gained in the writer’s strike with their corporate overlords. It is worth considering as AI’s smoke and mirrors hype continues to roll out across everything. From Wired, The Hollywood Writers AI Deal Sure Puts a Lot of Trust in Studios to Do the Right Thing


I am unsure which is better, the prose, content, or subject.

“Getting older is a relentless process of paring down. Getting older is an exercise in letting go. Let go of anger: “I’m at the age now where you just – you’ll die.” Let go of fitting in, of going up to Rao’s restaurant with important people. Let go of other people’s opinions: “That doesn’t mean you don’t take advice and you don’t discuss and argue, but at a certain point you know what you want to do. And you have no choice.” Let go of the idea that you might someday visit the Acropolis. Let go of the idea that a movie needs a beginning, a middle, and an end: “Maybe the middle’s all around it, you know?””

Maybe because I am of a certain age, but this piece from GQ, Martin Scorsese: “I have to find out who the hell I am” is brilliant.


Do scientists lie? That has been a political discussion for centuries, heightened in the last few years by the pandemic. Here is a disturbing update. 

“Do scientists lie? Let’s review the recent evidence. “I left out the full truth to get my climate change paper published,” the climatologist Patrick Brown wrote in an essay posted earlier this month, just days after his research had appeared in the journal Nature. The paper’s main finding, that global warming makes extreme wildfires more common, was based on a willful oversimplification of reality, he confessed—and it did not represent his private view that other factors are as or more important.

Another, similar story came out in June, during the congressional inquiry into COVID’s origins: The language of a crucial, early paper ruling out the “lab-leak theory” had been altered during peer review to make its conclusions more robust, investigators found. Kristian Andersen, its lead author, admitted that the paper’s blanket dismissal of “any type of laboratory-based scenario” was added in response to comments by the journal’s editor and peer reviewers.”

From The Atlantic, The Banality of Bad-Faith Science