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Thomas Themel
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177 followers
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Somewhat counterintuitively, corporate concentration seems to serve as a redistribution device and decrease income equality. Also a good story of why the much-beloved 1960 status quo is not efficient anymore.

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TIS-100, a game for people whose idea of fun is programming a primitive multicore system in assembly language.

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For the blue screen enthusiasts. It seems like the self-scanning thing at the local supermarket runs Windows CE, with unsurprising results. 
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I wrote a book review. I should really do this more, or at least tell myself that I am going to do it because I get the impression that the expectation of having to write about it improves my engagement with the book and the act of going over it afterwards improves retention, but ultimately what drove me to do it here is that I felt it would be useful because there wasn't yet the usual sea of reviews that expressed what I wanted to write much better than I could have done it.

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I still don't get it after I have been here for five years. Salaries are almost double of neighboring countries, taxes are lower and yet public administration is extremely well run and public transport works like a charm.

Of course asset prices have adjusted and your median square meter of Zurich apartment space will set you back about 10000 CHF, but it is notable that you can rent it for about 2-3% of that annually and still provide returns to your landlords who pay 1.5% on their mortgage and bear the price risk for you.

Overall, it still seems like a fantastic deal for professionals to consider at least spending a few lucrative years here. Once you look at the cost of raising children and buying real estate it looks slightly less like you're drowning in money, but if that's not an immediate concern you can enjoy the disposable income faucet for a while, at least until you find yourself actually wondering whether you are going to stay around.

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Depressing graph of the week. Z-Scores are jargon for standard deviations here, so a point is worth about 15 Stanford-Binet IQ points or 24 Cattell IQ points.

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There is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of housing capitalism. We encourage people to take on highly leveraged, undiversified exposure in homes with promises that they are good “investments”, meaning they will increase or at least retain their values over time. We also claim that housing is a consumption good that should be efficiently provided, a good for which competitive markets should expand supply to drive prices down to a technologically declining marginal cost of production. Housing cannot be both of those things at once. Much of the work we have to do if we wish to increase housing supply is to deemphasize the housing-as-investment narrative in favor of housing-as-consumption-good.

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It's interesting to note that "The Middle Class Is Losing Ground" is actually more about people moving out upwards than downwards, which is not exactly the story you'd get from public discourse. 

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I flew a lot in 2015. A quick calculation shows that carbon emissions from my flights amount to 22.5t, in addition to whatever I get for living in a first world country (though one that cares a lot about sustainable energy use). When I fly for business, Google actually tries to compensate (propaganda: https://www.google.com/green/bigpicture), but something like a third of that is private travel.

I was thinking about compensating via donations, but when I checked myclimate, the local provider, I got the impression that they were more optimized for making the donor feel good than for being cost efficient carbon reducers.

The linked article pointed me to Cool Earth, which claims much better efficiency, on the order of about a dollar per ton of CO2 reduction. 

Note that the linked analysis also goes on to expect that giving all your money to the Against Malaria Foundation is probably going to do more to reduce human suffering than climate change, but I suspect that has a lot of variance like all things climate. 

Related "you should donate to animal liberation charity instead of going vegan if you like meat": http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/09/23/vegetarianism-for-meat-eaters/

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The latest Hardcore History is great as usual. In particular, it was fascinating to consider the historical voices from Assyria and Babylon in the context of my favourite unscientific grand theory - Julian Jaynes's idea that this period contains the birth of modern consciousness. For example, hearing how statues were not representatives of gods but actually were the gods and could be taken away by conquerors or held hostage by overlords (which, fascinatingly enough, seems to not have worked but instead caused social breakdown) seems really puzzling from a modern perspective. Jaynes's theory of the origin of these religions as a remainder of a previous mode of mental and social organization centered around auditory hallucinations is fascinating and adds another layer to the already fascinating beginnings of history in Mesopotamia, so I encourage everyone with too much time on their hands to read The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and then enjoy the three and a half hours of audio below to the fullest!
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