You can find the Jan 2021 edition here.


Continued my Agatha Christie winter binge:

Idea Man, Paul Allen. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's autobiography. Interesting so far, although after reading a few life stories of tech business figures from this era they all seem somewhat similar.

Rest, Alex Soojun-Kim Pang. A good reminder on the importance of rest, although like most self-help books it leans on some dubious social science studies for support. Still worth reading for restless, ambitious people.


Baldassare Castiglione's Fashion Tips, Lapham's Quaterly.

“There are some simpletons,” said Federico, “who, even in the company of the best friend they have in the world, on meeting a man who is better dressed, at once attach themselves to him, and then if they happen on one still better dressed, they do the like to him. And later, when the prince is passing through the squares or churches or other public places, they elbow their way past everyone until they reach his side; and even if they have nothing to say to him, they still must talk and go on babbling and laugh and clap their hands and head to show they have business of importance, so that the crowd may see them in favor. But since these fellows deign to speak only with their lords, I would not have us deign to speak of them.”

Are Experts Real?, Alvaro De Mernard.

The appeal to credentials is typical when fake expertise is questioned. Can you imagine Magnus Carlsen appealing to a piece of paper saying he has a PhD in chessology to explain why he's good?

WebMD, And The Tragedy Of Legible Expertise, Astral Codex Ten.

Scott Alexander starting writing again after a long hiatus. And as always, his work his fantastic:

Think of centers of expertise like the CDC or the IGM Economists Panel as giant systems for disentangling corruption and power. Their job is to produce one or two people who can get in front of the population and say something which has some resemblance to reality, even though the entire rest of the economy and body politic is trying to corrupt them. They...actually do sort of okay. Anthony Fauci is neither Attila the Hun nor Trofim Lysenko. He's a kind of bumbling careerist with a decent understanding of epidemiology and a heart that's more or less in the right place. The whole scientific-technocratic complex is a machine which takes Moloch as input and manages - after spending billions of dollars and the careers of thousands of hard-working public servants - to produce Anthony Fauci as output. This should be astonishing, and we are insufficiently grateful.