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Stuff I've Found Interesting in January
1. This website that lets you browse the web like it’s 1999.
2. Every so often I revisit this Michael Cera article in the New Yorker - a nice piece of satire that I’ve always found more amusing than other people I’ve shown it to.
3. This post on the Effective Altruism Forums by Nuño Sempere, Misha Yagudin, and Eli Lifland on how prediction markets haven’t seen widespread use within companies.
4. An interesting titbit - Buddhist monks used some of Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons in some of their chants.
5. A fairly old piece at this point, but I enjoyed Peter Hitchens (for those outside of the UK, the Burkean conservative brother of Christopher) writing about his evening with Jeremy Corbyn. And for good measure, another Hitchens piece on Leonard Cohen.
6. David Perell on Intellectual Loneliness - a confession: sometimes I get lonely in this way, so if you want to reach out and message/Zoom/email about something you think is interesting, let me know! Feel free to book a meeting with me here if you want to chat.
7. Mike Tyson on American literature - “She believed in you guys and your society” is a nice line.
8. The ‘Travesties and Encounters’ section of Jonathan Glover’s website is a pleasure - as is the rest of the website. I like the passage from Marcelle Quinton on Isaiah Berlin in particular.
9. List of people who turned down a British honour. Good company to keep: Amartya Sen, Philip Larkin, David Bowie, Virginia Woolf, John Cleese, and more!
10. Which books do people steal? Here’s a fun passage from this article:
“We caught a gent last Christmas with £400-worth of stolen books in his trousers and elsewhere. We grabbed all of the bags back, but he returned about half an hour later to reclaim a half-bottle of whisky and his dream journal, which had been at the bottom of one of the bags of stolen books. As we showed him the door he told us: ‘I hope you’ll consider this in the Žižekian spirit, as a radical reappropriation of knowledge.’”
11. Sam Kriss on the decline of Hysteria. Fairly long, but very good.
12. The complete review - a website that looks like it’s from the 90s but is fun to peruse, lots of reviews of lots of books.
13. This study on the extent to which economists agree and disagree - download the actual study and scroll to the bottom (page 15) for the juicy stuff.
14. Short descriptions of various bourgeois characters from a concierge, posted on Reddit.
15. Stuart Ritchie’s takedown of Johann Hari. You may have seen Hari’s articles on how people are becoming less able to focus and pay attention to things - if you’ve managed to pay attention to Hari’s career, you’ll know to be sceptical.
16. Marx’s ‘confessions’ - essentially filling out the equivalent of a Facebook personality quiz. Interesting titbit is that he wrote his favourite name was ‘Jenny’, and apparently he named each of his daughters Jenny (his wife was also called Jenny).
17. This paper on how you ought to make a request (in-person? Over email? Zoom?), and how effective people think those requests are likely to be. See above for the answers (Face-to-Face, Video call, Video message, Audio Call, Audio Message).
18. Scott Alexander on the Yudkowsky-Ngo debate on AI.
19. And, in honour of Scott’s marriage, this Bryan Caplan post on why you ought to read Scott Alexander. Also this Caplan post on why he likes EAs, although the claim that the social justice movement is one of the world’s major problems is fairly dubious to me (or, to be impolite: totally wrong).
20. The Sample, which seems like a good way of getting a variety of interesting newsletters in your inbox.
21. This video on the unreasonable effectiveness of Clickbait - I was actually thinking of writing something on this myself, watch out for it. I’m still trying to figure out whether clickbait is good or bad.
22. A Tom Scott video (unlike his usual videos) in which people compete in a series of prisoner’s dilemma-esque tasks to win money. Great fun!
23. The new issue of Works in Progress, which is always worth reading.
24. The website of the newly formed Institute for Progress, working on increasing immigration, improving biosecurity, and making science better. What’s not to like?
25. Article in The Guardian on Jay Rayner’s experience meeting a former Nazi he had encountered in the past.
26. Lukas Gloor’s case for moral anti-realism.
27. Scott Alexander summarising criticisms of that study on the effects of poverty on infants you probably saw floating around Twitter.
28. Robin Hanson making the case for contrarianism.
29. A modest proposal (from me):
30. Mr Medlock and the Classics - going over some of the arguments from Twitter’s soc-dem constituency.
31. I liked watching Licorice Pizza at the cinema. It was a fun movie, and I hated the only PTA movie I’ve seen before (Inherent Vice), so I was surprised I liked this so much. Not as twee as the name makes it sound.
31. The Wikipedia article for Nicaraguan Sign Language is interesting - it was developed spontaneously by deaf children who were brought together in a new centre for special education. Irish Sign Language is also interesting - because boys and girls went to different schools, ISL is different for men and women.
32. I shared this on Twitter and apparently people found it interesting - on why political scientists don’t like term limits.
33. Just a fun one - a man drove 70 years without a licence, and he’s finally been caught.