Hitler, Cremation, Robin Hanson, Economics, Probability


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Hitler Looks East

Henry Wolfe | Atlantic | 28th February 1937

Prescient account of German intentions prior to World War Two. “The Führer’s promises of new lands, vast natural resources, and employment for everybody are calculated to stir the imagination of the German people. ‘Colonies to absorb our surplus population and provide us with the raw materials we lack will solve our economic and social problems’, a Nazi official told me. In the opinion of many they have in mind the acquisition of Polish, Lithuanian, Czechoslovak, or Russian territory” (4,500 words)

Inside A Crematorium

The proportion of dead Americans getting cremated has risen from 5% to 50% since 1980, mainly for reasons of cost: Cremation costs around $280, whereas a grave can cost $4,000. The Catholic Church used to forbid cremation, but reversed its position in 1963, though it still bans scattering of ashes. “Contemporary urns are are boxier and cleaner in style. They’re also larger, and not for vanity’s sake. The cremation process recovers a lot more of the human body than it used to” (5,690 words)

Robin Hanson On Signaling And Self-Deception

Tyler Cowen | Mercatus Center | 1st March 2018

Most human behaviour is directed at influencing and impressing others. “I’ve sometimes been tempted to classify people as egg people and onion people. Onion people have layer after layer after layer. You peel it back, and there’s still more layers. You don’t really know what’s underneath. Whereas egg people, there’s a shell, and you get through it, and you see what’s on the inside. In some sense, I think of introverts as going for the egg people strategy. They’re trying to show you: This is who I am” (13,900 words)

Lo And Behold

Charles Goodhart | Inference | 22nd February 2018

An economist reviews Andrew Lo’s ‘Adaptive Markets’, about the dynamics of finance. “If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, economists must ask themselves whether they intend to flatter the physicists or the biologists. If it is to be the first, then economists must concentrate their attention on the properties of static, stable, stochastic systems; if the second, then on the properties of systems undergoing evolutionary change. Lo wants us to shift from the first to the second” (3,100 words)

The Lottery Hackers

Jason Fagone | Huffpost Highline | 1st March 2018

Charming and instructive tale of a retiree called Gerald Selbee whose lifelong fascination with numbers and probability led him to spot loopholes in the Michigan and later the Massachusetts state lotteries skewing the odds in favour of buyers of very large numbers of tickets in particular weeks. The scheme was legal, and it worked beautifully — Selbee’s syndicate made millions — until some MIT students also spotted the Massachusetts loophole, and battle was joined (10,900 words)

Video of the day The Ghost Inside

What to expect:

Thinking person’s music video, in which a traveller pays an arm and a leg — literally — for freedom (5’04”)

Thought for the day

Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive
C.S. Lewis

Podcast of the day Laura Kipnis | Writers We Admire

Robert Cottrell talks to Professor Laura Kipnis about feminism, Title IX investigations, and #MeToo
(21m 30s)

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