Steven Pinker, Shipping, Poker, History, Alan Greenspan, Macintosh


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A Conversation With Steven Pinker

Tyler Cowen | Mercatus Center | 2nd November 2016

Interesting throughout. Topics include irregular verbs, consciousness, human nature, behavioural economics, technology, world peace. “We don’t only have irrational passions. We do have this big frontal cortex grafted on to a brain which now and again can override our passions. We can exert self‑control. We can count to ten. We can save for a rainy day. We can hold our horses. Not uniformly, not always reliably, but enough that it’s something that we could celebrate and try to encourage” (13,000 words)

Free Shipping Is A Lie

Neal Ungerleider | Fast Company | 1st November 2016

There is no such thing as free shipping. The cost are swallowed by the supplier, or by the platform, or concealed in the sale price. If they were broken out, online commerce would look very different. “Direct-to-home has a supply-chain cost three times higher than a store-based model. So when we say the internet retailer can charge less, how can that be? Maybe this is why so many of us have so much trouble emulating Amazon’s model and making any money. It’s a very expensive model” (3,180 words)

A Poker Champ Reads The Candidates

J.R. Havlan | Esquire | 30th October 2016

Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, six-time World Series Of Poker veteran, reads the body language of the presidential candidates. “Donald Trump doesn’t have significant tells when he’s lying because truth and lies to him are kind of homogenized. He’s such a pro at it that you don’t see a lot of divergence. It’s just constant bullshit. He’s probably a very good bluffer. As far as specific tells for Donald Trump, he has so many that it’s hard to even get started. He doesn’t hold the back” (1,290 words)

History Is A Bad Guide To Policy

Neville Morley | Aeon | 2nd November 2016

The more you know of history, the easier it is to find a precedent which appears to support your current policy, whatever your policy may be. Precedents are all the more treacherous because they are not even actual events; they are imperfect and stylised accounts of events by other historians. When Thucydides wrote about war, he did not imagine that he was discovering univeral principles of human behaviour; quite the contrary, he was recording the “complexity and unpredictability of the world” (1,500 words)

Sebastian Mallaby’s Biography Of Alan Greenspan

Ben Bernanke | Brookings | 2nd November 2016

Former Fed chairman Ben Benanke argues that his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, was generally right on monetary policy, but wrong in his tolerance of deregulation. “It would have been asking a lot of Greenspan — given his own inclinations and the prevailing intellectual winds — to have taken a more proactive regulatory stance in the years before the crisis. But it’s too strong to argue, as Mallaby does, that a meaningfully tougher regulatory policy was completely infeasible” (3,400 words)

Wherefore Art Thou, Macintosh?

Horace Dediu | Asymco | 2nd November 2016

A kinship theory of the Apple Mac, which has just turned 32 years of age. “Apple’s immune system was suppressed. It allowed [the iPhone] to emerge from within. Apple gave birth to its future by suppressing the reaction to that new seemingly parasitic organism. But what to do with the incumbent, the donor of DNA and resources, the parent that sacrificed for the child? The Mac is not treated disparagingly. It deserves and gets respect. It is preserved but with limited responsibilities” (1,200 words)

Video of the day: In Praise Of Mess

What to expect:

Tim Harford — with some help from Brian Eno — explains how messiness can signal and even stimulate genius (5’38”)

Thought for the day

Mind is the way that time holds itself together
Holly Woodward

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