The Republic of Fear
David Brooks put into words something I've long felt: The biggest disadvantage of life in the developing world is not the absence of wealth, but the absence of law and order.
The Republic of Fear
New York Times has an article on the sclerosis in France:
[...] Mr. Santacruz found the French bureaucracy to be an unbridgeable moat around his ambitions. Having received his master’s in finance at the University of Nottingham in England, he returned to France to work with a friend’s father to open dental clinics in Marseille. “But the French administration turned it into a herculean effort,” he said.
This is the sort of discoveries that make me want to throw money at physicists: Detection of Waves in Space Buttresses Landmark Theory of Big Bang_
Alan Guth is the physicist who proposed the inflation theory in 1979.
On Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.
Alan Guth is now a physicist at MIT. But what worries me is how close he came to not making it. From Alex Vilenkin's Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes:
On a Wednesday afternoon, in the winter of 1980, I was sitting in a fully packed Harvard auditorium, listening to the most fascinating talk I had heard in many years. The speaker was Alan Guth, a young physicist from Stanford, and the topic was a new theory for the origin of the universe. I had not met Guth before, but I had heard of his spectacular rise from obscurity to stardom. Only a month before, he belonged to the nomadic tribe of postdocs--young researchers traveling from one temporary contract to another, in the hope of distinguishing themselves and landing a permanent job at some university. Things were looking bleak for Guth: at age thirty-two he was getting a bit too old for the youthful tribe, and the contract offers were beginning to dry out. But then he was blessed with a happy thought that changed everything.
There are a lot of super-bright scientists who are willing to work crazy hours for little pay. We don't fund them nearly enough, driving them into other occupations. Scientific knowledge is a public good. If we don't fund it through taxes, we'll get too little of it. That's what has happened through all of human history, and that's what's happening now.
Ebooks are transforming the publishing industry. Since the cost of distributing an ebook is free, traditional print publishing industry is on its way out. Romance is on the leading edge of this revolution. The financial calculus now for romance authors is now crystal clear: forget traditional publishers; self publish your book. Here's H.M. Ward, a self-published author who has now sold more than four million copies (which probably makes her the top indie author), on why romance authors should not sign with traditional publishers
The Roses are Dead (Too Much Manure in Publishing)
Bitcoin has been in the news a lot. So I thought I'll weigh in. Bitcoin doesn't work well as money. Money exists to facilitate transactions. To serve that function well, its value should be steady and predictable. Bitcoin fails spectacularly on this count. From Wikpedia:
The price of bitcoin fluctuated wildly since its inception, going through various cycles of appreciation, which have been referred to by some as bubbles. In 2011 the value of one bitcoin rapidly rose from about US$0.30 to US$32 before returning to US$2. In the latter half of 2012 and during the 2012-2013 Cypriot Financial Crisis, the bitcoin price began to rise reaching a first peak of US$266 on April 10, 2013 before crashing to around US$50.
It's probably possible to build a cryptocurrency that's stable and viable as currency. Bitcoin just isn't it.
Author of Economics: The Remarkable Story of How the Economy Works