Peter Pomerantsev's This is Not Propaganda is a book about our times for our times. It addresses the central catch-22 of our information age; namely whether central censorship (with the risk of top down propaganda) or decentralised free range information (with the risk democracy-destabilising fake news) is the lessor evil - or, more concerning, if … Continue reading This is not Propaganda
"We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us." - A Soviet joke The Future is History by Masha Gessen is in someways the flip-side of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. While The Origins of Totalitarianism explains exactly that, how societies lose themselves to totalitarian ideology, The Future is History deals with the … Continue reading The Future is History
It has been rather depressing to watch people get exactly what they want. In South Africa in March, people begged to "be lead" through the COVID crisis - and they were. Crop-bottom pant regulations, arbitrary prohibition and all. They are now number three on the global misery index. In the UK, people demanded schools were shut down - … Continue reading Be careful what you beg for
"Eppur si muove" And yet it moves. Terry Pratchett's Small Gods is a sage tale for times when nothing is real, anything is possible, the rules are made up, and the points don't matter. In times where reality itself is under attack and science denialism is reaching pre-Renaissance levels of surreality; it is good to … Continue reading Small Gods
Friends with benefits are nice, friends with books are even better. I am privileged to know Pierre Du Plessis, the (extraordinarily wise) author of Train Naked personally. The book is written as a series of daily meditations and reflections - almost like miniature sermons that if followed will make your life richer and more rewarding. … Continue reading Train Naked
Good money chases bad out of circulation. That's Gresham's Law. But what happens when the good money and the bad money are controlled by different groups? One private and backed by sweat; the other public and backed by blood (or the threat thereof). This is not a stable equilibrium. Taxation (or wealth redistribution) is the … Continue reading BTC in the sheets, MMT in the streets?
Minecraft users have been building a 1:1 replica of Earth to preserve a record of our planet and our current civilisation in event of its destruction (and goodness knows there are enough options for total world-ending destruction available these days) for some time now. As a sub-plot to that grand plan, Reporters Without Borders is … Continue reading The Uncensored New Library of Alexandra
"Bureaucracy is a a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions." What a poetic quote. Nassim Taleb is a polarising figure; yet there is no doubt that he is on top form in Skin In The Game. Less academic and mathematical heavy than some of his … Continue reading Skin in the Game
The Cryptonomicon (also sometimes referred to as the Old Testament of the contemporary crypto community, I title it competes for with The Sovereign Individual) was apparently "required reading" for Elon Musk and Peter Thiel's team members in the early days of PayPal. After reading the book myself, this is an urban legend I am inclined … Continue reading The Cryptonomicon
Money gets surreal when it becomes untethered from reality; and a lot of strange financial wizardry began decoupling real value and nominal financial money in and around the 1970's. The website wfthappendin1978.com tells the story in pictures, in a series of economic charts that illustrate better than a thousand essays would, what happens when the rules … Continue reading WTF Happened in the 1970s?