Interesting Reads October 2021

Since I’m in the US for a quick visit, here are some mostly American themed reads and ideas from around the web that are worth sharing.

The weirdness of zero interest rates

Near zero interest rates are driving the obsession with crypto, get rich quick schemes and “to the moon” stocks. From a twitter thread:

This is what happens when you don’t let people deposit stuff in a savings account that earns a reliable 1% over inflation. Shit gets weird.

I’d go a step further and say this is what’s overcooking the entire economy with VC thinking. If there’s no need for exponential returns on risky investments, there’s also no need for companies like Facebook.

Patient zero

Sloppy journalism sells us the myth that epidemics have a “patient zero”. But it’s a lie.

We like to find people to blame and follow tidy narratives, but reality is almost always more complex. This should be a warning about taking quick journalism too seriously. The truth of events often takes years to untangle.

The streetlight effect

We test and measure things that are easy to test and measure and then make conclusions based off of them. This is called the streetlight effect.

This is a long an worthwhile read. It’s a pernicious flaw in our knowledge that’s everywhere and hard to avoid.


I came across the concept of deskilling in New Dark Age by James Bridle.

Jobs that used to require some level of craftsmanship and skill can now be done by a mindless person following an app. I recognized this years ago but didn’t realize there was already a term for it.

There’s been almost no public discussion of deskilling the workforce, even though deskilling is going to have a tremendous impact on how people live and the concentration of wealth.

Public health

Life expectancy is higher in Costa Rica than the US. This is a long, interesting read and challenges the assumption that wealth automatically creates health and longevity.

The positive note is that similar programs could be enacted across the world and get great results for very little money.