IQ, Thomas Schelling, Findings, Astrology, Magical Realism, Ceramics

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Hive Mind

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 8th December 2015

Garett Jones's Hive Mind claims that the prosperity of a nation is closely tied to its average national IQ. Which may well be the case. But what is cause and what is effect? Jones argues that IQ comes first: Higher-IQ populations build better-functioning institutions because they think longer-term — and prosperity follows. But what if elites alone drive development, and development raises general IQ levels? (4,100 words)

Thomas Schelling On Adapting To Climate Change

Alex Tabarrok | Marginal Revolution | 10th December 2015

Notes from a talk by Schelling on the need to prepare for the effects of climate change. Major engineering projects can take twenty years to plan and twenty more to complete. "We can protect every city on the Mediterranean from Marseilles to Alexandria to Tel Aviv; or we can dam the Strait of Gibraltar". Keeping New York and Boston dry would require flood defences equal to those of the Netherlands (495 words)


Rafil Kroll-Zaidi | Harper's | 11th December 2015

News from the world of science. "Sleeping Germans given incorrect definitions of Dutch words are not hindered in their language acquisition". "Painful injuries fail to wake most sleepwalkers." "After attaching a severed arm to a large pendulum and tightening the tendons with fishing line and guitar pegs, researchers found that a clenched fist can strike a padded dumbbell with twice the force of an open hand" (560 words)

Stars — They’re Just Like Us

The Editors | n+1 | 11th December 2015

An essay on the consolations of astrology which begins in the shallows and then pushes out into deeper waters. "Astrology offers those who take it less seriously an opportunity to critique taxonomies of identity in general. For all the Americans who think astrology is 'not at all scientific', there are other unpolled Americans who believe gender is not at all scientific. Is Alex a man or a woman? Alex is an Aries" (2,920 words)

One Hundred Years Of Solitude

Paul Elie | Vanity Fair | 10th December 2015

Gabriel García Márquez enjoyed his own version of Beatlemania when One Hundred Years of Solitude appeared in May 1967, two days before Sgt. Pepper. The book was an instant classic, a permanent best-seller around the world, and the start of a contagious new literary genre: magical realism. “How is it that this novel could be sexy, entertaining, experimental, politically radical, and wildly popular all at once?” (5,350 words)

The White Road

Edmund de Waal | Work In Progress | 10th December 2015

Edmund de Waal recalls his early life as a potter. "My friends were in London getting on with careers and affairs, and I was making dishes — unglazed, rough oatmeal brown on the outside, and green on the inside, pots to disappear into the landscape. No one bought them. No one liked them. This is usually an artist’s trope — as in 'no one liked them, except Peggy Guggenheim' — but in my case they were genuinely unlikeable" (1,770 words)

Video of the day: Samurai Smartphone Parade

What to expect: Japanese public-service announcement. Look forward when walking (2'30")

Thought for the day

One man’s magic is another man’s engineering
Robert Heinlein

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