Darwin & Malthus, Kitchen Gifts, Siri Hustvedt, Goodhart-Nangle, Biography, OPEC

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A Darwinian Explanation Of Malthus

Lemin Wu | Peking University | 1st June 2015

The Malthusian Trap re-explained by way of Darwin. This paper seems to be a major contribution to human thought. Five-star rating from Tyler Cowen. Luxury cultures serve the individual by raising living standards; subsistence cultures serve the group by increasing the population; subsistence cultures tend to invade luxury cultures; the outcome determines and may frustrate economic growth (PDF) (21,000 words)

Megan’s Kitchen Gift Guide

Megan McArdle | Bloomberg | 14th December 2015

An inspiration, an education, an institution. In vogue: Pepper mills, extra-large spatulae. This year's unforeseen development: Umai bags for dry-ageing beef. "You leave it in the fridge for a month or so, slice off the green-looking bits from the edges, and grill what’s left." This year's most regiftable gift: The Paderno four-blade spiralizer. "You can, with a little practice, turn zucchini into a reasonable facsimile of pasta" (5,400 words)

Knausgaard Writes Like A Woman

Siri Hustvedt | Literary Hub | 10th December 2015

A stilted start, but the essay picks up speed after a couple of paragraphs and covers a lot of interesting ground. Subjects discussed: The unconscious sexism of otherwise intelligent men; gender divisions in reading and writing; whether literature is intrinsically feminine, and, if so, how this frames the behaviour of male writers; Knausgaard as a male writer who writes a feminine narrative and yet dismisses female writers (6,700 words)

Goodhart-Nangle And Demographic Destiny

Duncan Weldon | Bull Market | 13th December 2015

Here's the story of the past thirty years. A population bulge plus globalisation doubled the workforce available to Western capital. The price of labour fell, cheap labour substituted for capital, interest rates fell. Now the working-age population is shrinking again, which suggests three possible futures: Cyclical change, in which wages and interest rates rise again; step change, in which machines replace humans; or Japan (1,420 words)

Learning From Robert Caro

Philip Collins | Prospect | 10th December 2015

For British politicians obsessed with American politics, Robert Caro does what Anthony Trollope did for an earlier generation: He brings stories from the hinterland where the culture was formed. Caro is with Carlyle in insisting — against E.H. Carr and others — that history is the study of great individuals. Which produces readable history, but it also encourages, as with Caro's Johnson, limitless detail (3,014 words)

Why Is Saudi Arabia Still Pumping Gas?

Danny Ocean | Reddit Geopolitics | 15th December 2015

Game theory and oil production. Saudi Arabia would be much more likely to reduce oil production in an era of falling prices if it trusted other OPEC countries to do likewise. But it does not, after past failures of trust. The optimal no-trust strategy for any one country is to produce more oil at lower unit prices. Nor are the Saudis seeking to bankrupt the US shale industry. They know that if a US operator fails, another moves in (1,260 words)

Video of the day: NYC Subway Stations

What to expect: Glimpses of passengers and snatches of conversation from the New York subway system (1'50")

Thought for the day

One can assemble a history of science from the solemn pronouncements of high authorities about what could not be done
Robert Heinlein

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