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Stuff I found interesting in June
1) Why we voted Leave - voices from Northern England:
As always, posting something in a links round-up is not an endorsement of views expressed in the link!
2) Being famous sounds like it kinda sucks:
Once in Central Asia, I had a driver show up at my hotel to take me to the airport, but… he used my real name, and I’d given the car service a fake name. To buy time, I asked him to wait while I made a few phone calls. About 10 minutes later, the real driver showed up to take me to the airport, using the designated pseudonym. The first fraudulent driver took off, and to this day, I have no idea how he knew where I was staying or when I was leaving. But it bears repeating: there are professionals who do this, and they will be very good at what they do.
3) Short VICE documentary on polygenic screening (h/t Ives Parrhesia):
These Collinses have been everywhere (see this: ‘meet the elite couple breeding to save mankind’), and seem to be doing as much as they can to get people not to do polygenic screening.
4) This New Yorker profile on Matty Healy, featuring notes on the recent controversies:
Not long before our lunch, Healy, on Instagram, had uploaded a short film he’d made, in which he plays his “real” self, first watching porn in a hotel room, then practicing being perfectly natural and lovely with selfie-requesting fans. “You wanna take it or you want me to take it?” Healy asks, before tilting his head to rest on the head of an imaginary girl. Then we see him walking around New York, and watch actual fans stop him and ask for selfies. “You wanna take it or you want me to take it?” he asks.
6) One of the most memorable experiences of my life was wandering around some street in El Ravel in Barcelona and seeing an alien. I don’t mean this as some sort of metaphor. I mean, if I didn’t know better, I would literally have thought he was from another planet. Here’s a video of an interview with him:
Institutional trust unlocks a stupid amount of value, and you can’t buy it with money. Lots of resources (amenity rentals; the mayor’s endorsement; business services; pro-bono and monetary donations) are priced/offered based on tail risk. If you can establish that you’re not a risk by having a longstanding, unblemished reputation, costs go way down for you, and opportunities way up. This is the world that Samaritans now operate in.
8) Amitai Etzioni has died. I remember enjoying this YouTube video as a teenager:
He claims that social science shows, with complete confidence, that happiness comes from three sources: relationships, intellectual life, and communal life. I think this claim is basically wrong. Here’s a figure from a paper by Killingsworth
9) The Met is returning $550k it received from FTX. Why was FTX donating to the Met, anyway?
10) Claims about Peter Singer, scroll down to ‘sexual harassment claim’:
Though Peter Singer eventually told me he had slept with about thirty women in our movement, my claim refers to just a few, whose lives, like mine, were profoundly damaged by their dealings with him.
I have no idea if these allegations are true or reputable.
11) Goodbye Ozempic:
A new, oral form of semaglutide works about as well as Ozempic or Wegovy, which are injectable versions of the same; so does another pill containing a drug called orforglipron. New data also hint that shots containing tirzepatide or survodutide may end up working better than semaglutide, and that a compound called retatrutide is perhaps the best of all, with effects approaching those of bariatric surgery. I won’t even bore you with the news about pemvidutide, lotiglipron, and danuglipron!
13) The Mastermind:
In at least one important way, though, his boasts are accurate. Mohammed, not Osama bin Laden, was the essential figure in the 9/11 plot. The attacks were his idea, carried out under his direct command. Mohammed has said that he went so far as to resist swearing allegiance to bin Laden and Al Qaeda until after the attacks, so that he could continue pursuing them if Al Qaeda lost courage.
14) This Janan Ganesh piece on the Americanisation of British liberals has already made the rounds on Twitter, but here it is again.
15) The results of the x-risk expert/superforecaster competition:
The median domain expert predicted a 20% chance of catastrophe and a 6% chance of human extinction by 2100. The median superforecaster predicted a 9% chance of catastrophe and a 1% chance of extinction.
And then some criticism of the tournament from Ege Erdil:
16) Social Change Lab collaborate with Apollo Academic Surveys to create a survey of expert academics on the effectiveness of protest. I found this part particularly interesting: