The Roots of Progress

Links digest, 2023-09-01

How ancient people manipulated water, and more

I am experimenting with pulling more social media content directly into these digests, in part to rely less on social media sites long-term (since content might be deleted, blocked, paywalled, etc.) That makes these digests longer, but it means there is less need to click on links.

I will still link back to original social media posts in order to give credit and make sharing easier. As always, let me know your feedback.





Patrick Collison and Lant Pritchett discuss progress and what happens in a country that enables its growth (via @jmazda)



From social media


Mises against stability (Masters of the Universe, by Daniel Stedman Jones):

Like Popper, Mises saw a similarity between the bureaucratic mentality and Plato’s utopia, in which the large majority of the ruled served the rulers. He thought that “all later utopians who shaped the blueprints of their earthly paradises according to Plato’s example in the same way believed in the immutability of human affairs.” He went on, Bureaucratization is necessarily rigid because it involves the observation of established rules and practices. But in social life rigidity amounts to petrification and death. It is a very significant fact that stability and security are the most cherished slogans of present-day “reformers.” If primitive men had adopted the principle of stability, they would long since have been wiped out by beasts of prey and microbes.

“Comment posted to a NY Times article published 3 years ago during lockdown, questioning whether NYC would ever recover” (via @michaelmiraflor):

I’ve been a NYC taxi driver for many, many years. My favorite type of ride is the rare one of picking up a man who has just emerged from a hospital following the birth of his first child. It is the best day in his life and I usually find it difficult to hide my own tears of joy as he tells me all about it.

My second favorite ride is similar. It is a young person with a dream who is coming to New York City for the very first time. I am the taxi driver taking him or her to Manhattan from the airport. I insist on the Upper Level of the 59th Street Bridge as our route. Excitement grows as the city grows larger and larger as we approach Manhattan. Finally, almost at ground level, the ramp takes us so close to the surrounding buildings that we can actually see the people inside. Touching down on E. 62nd Street, my newly minted New Yorker is experiencing for the first time the “energy” that is so often spoken of. It’s like watching a child approaching a roomful of birthday presents. All things are possible.

Maps & charts

London’s rail system if we could build at Nordic costs (via Alon Levy via @Sam_Dumitriu)

“One of the most inspiring achievements of humanity. We did it before, and we can do it again” (@Altimor)

“The most foundational resource for material prosperity is energy” (@Andercot)

Nuclear support poll (via @gordonmcdowell)

The entire universe, to (log) scale (via @emollick, by Pablo Carlos Budassi, see the original for full res)

Comment: Progress Forum, LessWrong, Reddit

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