2019 Q4 reads

Fun stuff:

Serious stuff:

  • Considerations on cost disease (and comments) from Slate Star Codex discusses why things like healthcare, education, and infrastructure seem to be getting more expensive without getting any better. See also Patrick Collison's examples of how quickly we used to be able to accomplish big projects. And some ideas about why infrastructure is more expensive to build in the US than in other countries.
  • An essay by Rob Riemen that describes how fascism emerges in a democratic society with a moral / educational vacuum. "Fascist techniques are identical everywhere: the presence of a charismatic leader; the use of populism to mobilize the masses; the designation of the base group as victims; and the direction of all resentment toward an 'enemy.'" It seems like the two US parties choose different scapegoats (immigrants? billionaires?), but the mechanism of exploiting resentment is the same.
  • Related: an essay that argues that the real "class war" is between the capital-gains class and the professional elite (not the working class).
  • Related: an SSC piece about billionaire philanthropy. Some people think the money would be better spent if the government taxed it away... They must be far more optimistic than me regarding the competence and efficiency of the federal bureaucracy.
  • Some insights into the workings of the management consulting industry. (The author does seem a bit one-sided; I'd love to see a rebuttal.)
  • A long read about the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Lots of details that I didn't know before, like the fact that personal dosimeters were made illegal in Kiev, and that all the children were evacuated from the city at one point.