Links from Last Week

Billionaires to the Barricades

The ultra-rich are shifting an eye toward altruism and economic fairness. Though it is unclear if this is lip-service or real reform, one of the interviewees makes an interesting point about systematic change at the end of the article. If there were ever a group of people that new how to create change and manipulate function it is undoubtedly it is the ultra-rich. While the changes suggested by Cohan are specific to America, the question remains: has anyone been able to consult with this group on policy change? Well Cohan goes on to explain, rather succinctly why that probably won't work anyway.

Most billionaires, he added, are apt to address inequality by donating portions of their fortunes, not by seeking systemic economic change. “Charity? Yes,” Mr. Cohan said. “But leveling the playing field? No.”

While donations always make me happy, and this is currently the best way for most of us to change the world, this sad truth is, well... sad.

80,000 Hours thinks that only a few people should earn to give

If you haven't read it you should. It generated quite a buzz. If you are in it for the EA gossip, skip to the italicized bit at the end. Frankly that isn't the gossip - it is the entire point of the damn article. I wish he'd just written that.

BTW 80K: Norman Borlaug is a good illustration of your point, but that picture is just weird guys. Seriously.


In Defense of Being Average

The article is long but he's got a good point and writes well. I'll let him sum it up for you:

To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate time and energy to it. And because we all have limited time and energy, few of us ever become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything at all... All of this “every person can be extraordinary and achieve greatness” stuff is basically just jerking off your ego. It’s shit sold to you to make you feel good for a few minutes and to get you through the week without hanging yourself in your cubicle. It’s a message that tastes good going down, but in reality, is nothing more than empty calories that make you emotionally fat and bloated, the proverbial Big Mac for your heart and your brain.
-Mark Manson

Ouch dude. I mean, it is true. But ouch.

BTW Mark: I like your style

What to Keep

Spoiler: only the things that make you happy.

Simple. Elegant. Mediocre. Mark would approve.

Reflections from the Halfway Point

Slate Star Codex is hardly ever disappointing. But Bob? Bob won my heart in this one. Not just because of the amusing antidote, but because I know Bob. Or I knew him. Or someone like him. Or I've dealt with him while volunteering. Bob isn't really one person you see. But he stole the show because he humanizes all those Bobs out there, because you should always remember "how deeply the civilizing instinct has penetrated." And because SSC is right, we adjust to things readily, so don't forget to take a step back and analyze what your situation looks like to an outsider.

Although this Bob is figurative, I did know Bob. And he was a lovely, lovely man.