Links - June 27, 2020
- While Statues Sleep Thomas Laqueur - London Review of Books
This essay, reviewing a book comparing the histories of racism and reparations between Germany and the US was worth the 7200 words. “Coming to terms with the past in the United States is a different temporal matter. At issue is the entire national past.”
- Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism (2006) Jaron Lanier - Edge.org
An oddly prescient text from Lanier. It predicted the rise of an entity that’d fill the hole of Facebook as the ultimate bottleneck for our attention online, the devolution of the media industry into either more extreme or more average versions of its old self, and the fact that Wikipedia would become a central asset in the battle to train artificial intelligence models.
- Making Sense of Neoliberalism Quinn Slobodian - Harvard University Press
An essay that tries to explain a complex perspective of neoliberal globalism, arguing that the narrative of “free trade” is in fact false, as there is an extremely opaque set of laws that regulate international markets. Further, the author argues that the global institutions that set the rules are self-perpetuating, and not really the bearers of deregulation that they pretend to be. Now I want to read Slobodian’s book Globalists.
- You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument Caroline Randall Williams - The New York Times
A tough read, and a reminder that the horrors of slavery are recent - a few generations away.
- What comes after Zoom? Benedict Evans
An interesting analogy based on the idea that Zoom “feels 1.0.” It’s not new technology, it’s the one people use though. That makes it similar to Skype or Dropbox. Once video is ubiquitous, who will ask new interesting questions and build products around them? Probably not Zoom.
- How the Virus Won Derek Watkins, Josh Holder, James Glanz, Weiyi Cai, Benedict Carey and Jeremy White - The New York Times
A sadly cool visualization of the spread of COVID across the US, using graph analysis and genetic data to trace back the contagion.
- The shadow org chart Henry Ward - Medium
Organizational behavior usually assumes the perspective that the reader is at the top of the org chart, but that is not the case. I’ve been looking for content that studies bottom up institutional/corporate change, and found this one in the process. If you have any recommendations on this, I’d love to hear them.
- What’s Gotten Into the Price of Cheese? Matt Phillips - The New York Times
I don’t understand commodities markets at all, so even superficial reads like this one, on the effect of the current crisis on cheese prices, seem interesting.
- Why the original laissez-faire economists loved slavery Blake Smith - Aeon
I always knew of the link between capitalism and slavery, but a recent sad realization is that the origin of “free trade” is contradictorily about the free trade in human slaves. This article came up while looking for more sources after reading about this idea in Jill Lepore’s These Truths. The fact that the phrase is rooted in something I see as morally wrong doesn’t really mean that I disagree with its conclusions - I still think free trade on average achieves more efficient solutions than top down approaches.
- Banks are slow to increase rates on savings accounts, but quick to reduce them J.P. Koning - Moneyness
On how banks interests rates are “downwards-flexible and upwards-sticky,” and how that means we’re getting screwed. The title says it all.
- What does 👁👄👁 mean? Well... Josh Constine
The internet went crazy in the past few days over what people were speculating to be a new gen-Z focused social network app. It hit #1 on Product Hunt using a wacky website with just a web-form. Turns out that it was not a tech thing at all, but instead a guerilla marketing campaign to push people to donate to civil rights! It was what it was.
- On the effect of reducing H1B visas on new student enrollment into US schools. Bill Kerr - Twitter
I’m obviously biased on this topic, as a former F1 and H1B holder, but the fact is that even if you believe in the zero-sum immigration story, large parts of the US economy depends on immigrants. Education is one of the most contingent markets.
- Rainbow – an attempt to display colour on a B&W monitor Anfractuosity
Random cool thing of the day.