Here’s my weekly list of links with commentary, the first for 2019.
1. Apple’s new services strategy. My new post from earlier today. I argue Apple’s shift to put their movies/TV shows/music services on other hardware platforms was a decision to commoditize the complement. link
2. Climate Change is about China. Noah Smith: “This leads to a painful but inescapable truth — no matter how much they spend, no matter how dramatically they change their societies, the U.S. and Europe won’t be able to put much of a dent in global warming on their own. Yes, the U.S. should ban coal power, tax carbon heavily and spend lots of money on building green energy infrastructure. But without a huge change in China, none of that will matter — the battle against climate change will be lost.”
In particular I liked these two graphs:
Smith’s post is here. Plus also see his related post Saving the Planet Doesn’t Mean Killing Economic Growth.
3. Nuclear power is bad, but better than the alternatives. Many people hate nuclear power. I think the best argument for nuclear power is not that it’s safe. It’s not. But rather all kinds of power generation have risks and problems. Arguing for nuclear power is arguing we don’t live in a perfect world. Solar is great, not magic. Here’s an interview with pro-nuclear activist Michael Shellenberger. One bit:
Look at France and Germany, the two biggest economies in Europe. France has 92% of its electricity from zero emission sources – Germany has 46%. And yet France pays half as much for electricity as Germany because it depends heavily on nuclear and Germany is phasing it out. Germany saw its electricity prices rise 50% over the last 15 years. France’s prices has stayed stable. So introducing huge amounts of solar and wind onto the grid makes electricity expensive; we see it all over the world. The reason has to do with trying to manage all of that unreliability.
4. Economics of superstar cities. Tech naturally clusters, creating superstar cities. Which has been going on since the 1980s. This has coincided with tightening house building restrictions, which has led to decreased mobility into growing cities, at least compared to the past. This is a bit of a hobby horse for me. So am glad to see more people writing about it. Here’s some recent articles which I thought worth reading, if you want to click through:
- Christopher Mims. Where You Should Move to Make the Most Money: America’s Superstar Cities. A tech-driven concentration of talent since the 1980s has helped the rich get richer. But it has also sharpened an urban-rural divide that, some say, threatens growth.
- Timothy Taylor Snapshorts of falling mobility. Has some nice graphs.
- Matt Stoller argues “Bottom line, there’s nothing inevitable or natural about any of this. America ran a policy to equalize dense and rural areas of the nation for 200 years. In the 1970s, we flipped those policy levers. This is where we are now. It’s not superstar cities, it’s policy. “
- Matt Yglesias A bold vision for denser construction, this time with more tenant protections. On California bill SB-50.
- Gaby Del Valle How rising rents contribute to homelessness
5. US murder rate decline. The chart below speaks for itself.
New York Time article with chart is here. Plus a nice tweetstorm by Noah Smith on same topic.
6. Some good longreads. I’d like to link to some longer articles which I enjoyed reading over the holidays. I’ll comment on why I thought each one might be worth your time.
- Online quiz on how you pronounce certain words. Attempts to identify where you grew up. Fun, and it worked for me. link
- A son discovers only after his death the true extent of his dad’s friendship with NBA basketball star Charles Barkley. link
- On the poisonous allure of social media shaming. An older topic, written in first person. Surprisingly good. link
- A personal story on life when weighing 460 pounds. Poignant. The kind of topic that would be maudlin if done badly, but when done well, is universal. This is done well. link
And that’s all for this week. Hope you have a great 2019.