Mental Pivot

Notes and observations from a lifelong pursuit of learning.


Articles & Podcasts of Note (Week of 12/09/2019)

  • The Case for Growth Centers: How to Spread Tech Innovation Across America (brookings.edu): Research report from the Brookings Institute that is being referenced by the WSJ, NYT and others. Goal of the report: how to counteract the regional divide between “superstar regions” (e.g. Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and San Diego) and the rest of the country in order to grow high-tech innovation more broadly.
  • Coolest Things I Learned in 2019 (perrell.com): Fun and informative collection of interesting tidbits collected by the host of the North Star podcast. I enjoy these end-of-year roundups.
  • An Introduction to Supernormal Stimuli (sparringmind.com): I stumbled across this link in a Hacker News thread on a New Yorker article about “Instagram Face.” Learn about this phenomenon and how it is affecting your mind in the present day.
  • Jackpot: How Two Lottery-Crazed Bank Clerks Cooked up China’s Biggest Bank Robbery of All Time (medium.com): Exhilarating read about a desperate gambit by Chinese bank workers in the mid 2000s.
  • Jobs, Jobs Everywhere, But Most of Them Suck (nymag.com): The recent jobs report shows a healthy labor market, but is the picture as bright once you dig a little deeper?
  • The Lesson to Unlearn (paulgraham.com): Learning to get good grades has obscured the true lessons of learning and engaging with a subject. Good reminder of Goodhart’s Law which states that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
  • List of Obsolete Occupations (wikpedia.org): Some real occupational curiosities—whipping boy, groom of the stool and leech collector—which are thankfully no longer necessary.
  • The Massive Triumph of the Rich Illustrated by Stunning New Data (washingtonpost.com): Two factors are responsible for growing wealth disparity in the U.S. The first is well chronicled: ballooning income of top earners capturing the lion’s share of economic growth. The second is the focus of this article: the decline of a progressive tax code.
  • Millenials Only Hold 3% of Total U.S. Wealth (businessinsider.com): Baby boomers, in contrast, hold 80% of the wealth (more interestingly they held 10% of the wealth at a comparable time to present millennial). As usual, these intergenerational articles ignore Gen X, my generation.
  • My Year in Review: 2019 (susanjfowler.com): Another year-in-review article. This one from a current New York Times editor (and former Uber whistleblower).
  • Why Car Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm (citylab.com): I hope this trend continues. I’ve experienced car-free cities and streets in Europe and Asia and it’s such a refreshing change from the car-centric urban centers of the United States.
  • Why Child Care Is So Ridiculously Expensive (theatlantic.com): Per-child spending on childcare has increased 2000% in the past 40 years. Labor costs, industry regulations and facility costs are the primary drivers. The result is “Cadillac prices for an Edsel product.”