Raj Chetty, Governance, Eritrea, iPhones, Mud, Barristers

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A Conversation With Raj Chetty

Tyler Cowen | Mercatus Center | 25th May 2017

By zeroing in on issues of social mobility, Stanford’s Raj Chetty has become “the single most influential economist in the world today”. Here he talks about education, automation, and much besides. “I think current trends suggest that segregation will continue to grow in the US. Take the case of driverless cars, for example. One way that could go is, if you have access to driverless cars, it makes it all the more easy to go live further away in a secluded place, further reduce interaction, right?” (12,000 words)

The Priest, The Guru, And The Nerd-King

Carlos Bueno | Ribbonfarm | 9th May 2017

How tech companies think, pulled between visionaries and tacticians. “Corporations do not want to legislate, let alone enforce, more of humanity’s behaviour than they need to. But because they are outpacing governments in their ability to predict and shape human behaviour, they walk right into impossible situations. Starting a ride-sharing service? Congratulations, you’re now an urban planner. Want to disrupt shipping logistics? Get ready to curb terrorism and slavery” (1,400 words)

Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki

Abraham Zere | Africa As A Country | 24th May 2017

Profile of the “arbitrary and abrupt” autocrat who has ruled Eritrea since independence in 1991. “Corruption is not only tolerated, but encouraged. Relatively incorruptible officials are considered a potential threat. President Afwerki is known for physically assaulting ministers and national figures. His character is taken as the model and it trickles down the lowest ranks. Having effectively demolished all public institutions and structures, his legacy will take a generation to fix” (1,570 words)

iPhone Evolution

Neil Cybart | Above Avalon | 23rd May 2017

A brief history of the iPhone, coupled with an argument that its best days are still to come. “My theory as to why the iPhone has evolved while larger screens have seen much less change is that the iPhone contains the most valuable camera in our lives. As the iPhone’s role in our lives has changed, camera usage has increased. We are giving much more value to the most mobile camera in our lives. The fact that we have our iPhones on us throughout the day breeds this evolutionary process” (1,900 words)

Curious Methods

Karen Lutsky & Sean Burkholder | Places Journal | 18th May 2017

Landscape architects’ lyrical description of fieldwork on the mud flat of the Great Salt Lake. “The mud goes on for miles. We ride our bikes where the ground is solid and walk where it is not. We had planned to map salinity gradients from the mountains to the lake, but we can see now there is no point; the mud hides gradients within gradients. Ahead, the heat warps small stones into shimmering boulders, and microbes paint the surface with bright salmon-colored streaks” (4,300 words)

The Exquisitely English London Clerk

Simon Akam | Bloomberg Businessweek | 23rd May 2017

Informative and entertaining account of the crucial part played behind the scenes of the English legal profession by the “astonishingly well-paid” guild of barristers’ clerks. “One of the most peculiar aspects of the clerk-barrister relationship is that clerks handle money negotiations with clients. Barristers argue that avoiding fee discussions keeps their own interactions with clients clean and uncomplicated, but as a consequence, they’re sometimes unaware of how much they actually charge” (4,030 words)

Video of the day: Ten Commandments

What to expect:

Brief tableaux depicting how the Ten Commandments are commonly violated in modern life (1’18”)

Thought for the day

The passions have been sufficiently interpreted; the point now is to discover new ones
Guy Debord

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