Tails, Cranks, Eve, War, Feet

Three Big Things

Morgan Housel | Collaborative Fund | 4th October 2019

Notes on three current megatrends — ageing, inequality, and access to information. “The world is driven by tail events. A minority of things drive the majority of outcomes. It’s one of the most important concepts in investing, where a few positions may account for most of your lifetime returns. Demographics, inequality, and information access will have a huge impact on the coming decades. How those Big Things end is a story yet to be told. But when it’s told we’ll have a better idea of where it began”  (4,380 words)

Beware Of Cranks

David Richeson | Lapham’s Quarterly | 8th October 2019

A brief history and taxonomy of crackpot thinkers in mathematics. “They are male. They are old, often retired. They don’t understand what it means for something to be mathematically impossible. Their proofs are always accompanied by dense, complicated figures. They believe that they will be richly rewarded with money or prestige for their work. It is impossible to convince them of their errors. They are prolific and persistent correspondents who will take up as much time as you give them” (2,020 words)

Eve Babitz’s Vision

Molly Lambert | Paris Review | 7th October 2019

In praise of Eve Babitz, who played chess with Marcel Duchamp, romanced Jim Morrison, and channelled Los Angeles into her fictive memoirs. “My god, isn’t it fun to read Eve Babitz? Holding one of her books in your hand is like being in on a good secret. Babitz knows all the good secrets — about LA, charismatic men, and supposedly glamorous industries like film, music, and magazines. Cool beyond belief, but friendly and unintimidating. When she says something portentous, you are never far from a punch line” (2,670 words)

Water Rabbits And Logs

Noah Lachs | SupChina | 8th October 2019

Sun Tzu’s timeless handbook, The Art Of War, is both a “military master-class” and a “lesson in strategic communication”. It offers “no blood, no clanging weapons, no celebratory killing”. Instead, it is “replete with natural imagery, featuring cascading water, waxing moons, and rolling logs”. This allegorical imagery “displaces the violent language that would intuitively populate a text centred on war” — and reinforces Sun Tzu’s core message, that winning without fighting is better than fighting and winning (1,580 words)

The Origin Of The Foot Rail

Wayne Curtis | Imbibe | 3rd October 2019

A foot-rail in a bar is something that gets noticed mainly when it is lacking. “You belly up to a bar, start pawing one foot in the air like a dog begging for a treat, and find no firm platform upon which to land. You ask: What kind of place is this?” From the bar’s point of view, the virtue of the foot rail is that it encourages the drinker to stand and drink longer. Raising and lowering a foot from time to time relieves stress in the lower back. Drinkers seem to like the look: “Raising one foot results in a more rakish profile” (918 words)

Video: The Ogre-Faced Spider. Ze Frank continues his up-close tour of the animal kingdom with a visit to the Deinopidae family of cribellate spiders (6m 45s)

Audio: When Everything Looks The Same | Wireframe. Khoi Vin and guests discusses the monoculture of digital design. Every app looks the same. Is that a bad thing? (25m 09s)

“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality”
— Clifton Fadiman

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