Stories We’re Following

There are so many great writers out there making sense of the world! I save the links to articles that are beautifully written and cover critical stories shaping the world today.

TECHNOLOGY

The world of technology is changing everything, from history to economics to culture. Changes in technology are leading indicators and come to change everything else in time.

Why Software Is Eating the World – This article, written by Netscape inventor and tech investor Marc Andreessen, is over 10 years old now but articulates the inevitability of the spread and dominance of software.

Software Is Eating The World, But Services Are Eating Software – This follow up in Forbes is not nearly as good as the Andreessen article it references, but the writer makes a good point that services are consolidating software into SaaS companies which, in turn, can provide the backbone of thousands of software implementations.

The Network Effects Bible – Software that creates networks dominates in a way that software that performs a single function does not. This article describes how networks are created and proliferated.

Crypto millionaires are pouring money into Central America to build their own cities – The tech train will undo the nation-state in time. I’ve noted for a long time that one day, there will be a competition for citizenship, and the new tech cities built on independence from national money is drawing that day forward. Utopian dreams, for now.

Entrepreneurs and the Truth – A ‘reality distortion field’ may serve a short term purpose, but over the long term, it’s deadly both personally and financially.

‘Find the smartest technologist in the company and make them CEO’ – Mere from Marc Andreeson where he talks about the big three emerging technologies.

What is Web3? Here Are Some Ways To Explain It To A Friend – Web1 is read-only, Web2 is read-write, Web3 is read-write-own. Here’s the details.

Why Is There Maximalism In Crypto? – AC power v DC power, Microsoft v Apple, and now Ethereum v Bitcoin.. We’ve heard this story before.

Deep Fakes of Real Actors – A digital version of yourself opens opportunities but it also opens up the question of rights.

The Dubrovnik Interviews: Marc Andreessen – More gold from the most interesting voice in the tech world.

HEALTH AND AGING

Is there any goal more exciting and worthy than extending life-span and more importantly, health-span? There are so many great stories to tell here.

Lust for life: breaking the 120-year barrier in human ageing – There are many theories of aging and several researchers posit that humans are programmed to die if they reach the maximin age of 120, or 6 times the age to maturity (6 X 20 years). But, even if that is true, might we break through that barrier as we have broken past previous barriers?

The New Aging – Pascal Brucker offers a great essay on the new phase of life that is not young or old, but not the same as in the past. How to define ourselves in a place our parents never were… “Everywhere the human condition escapes us, as we enter the era of liquid generations and identities. Today, many yearn to be free of the yoke of age and to benefit from the suspension between middle and old age, seeking to invent a new art of living.”

I’ve Been Through This Before – This is a fascinating article about the corruption of science by experts who pretend to certainty they don’t really have. Yes, it is about COVID, but its also about the origins of autism, which are still not understood. NOW, we acknowledge it isn’t understood, but in the past, they just blamed the mothers.

Scientists Find No Evidence That Depression Is Caused by “Chemical Imbalance” or Low Serotonin Levels – What is drug marketing was nonsense all along?

The New Aging – A hew phase of life has opened, and people are trying to figure out what to do with it.

SPACE

NASA’S MEGAROCKET IS ABOUT TO BLAST OFF TOWARD THE MOON – We’re headed out of earth orbit again.

THE JEWS

Many of the writers I enjoy write for Jewish magazines and newspapers, and they write about things of concern to Jews. As anyone interested in history quickly discovers, the Jews have had a profound effect of the history of Western civilization even though they have always been small in number. They are said to be the canary in the coalmine of Western history, and I believe that to be true.

Hannah and Anne – Neither of these girls survived World War 2, but both had a profound effect on Jewish history and consequently, world history.

The Doublethinkers – In a society where many thoughts can’t be expressed without severe punishment, and mistakes are costly, people learn to segment their thinking. Soviet society was like this, and similar methods and results are spreading to the West, so says the Jewish son of a Soviet writer.

The BDS Pound of Flesh – The Jews are always asked to give way and it never works out for them. A ‘pound of flesh’ was the expression from Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’ play and nothing has changed since then.

The American Zionist Dream – The great Walter Russell Mead writes about “How William Blackstone, Henry Cabot Lodge, and their fellow Christians saw a Jewish state as deeply American”

On This Day: Poles kill 340 Jews in Jedwabne pogrom 81 years ago – It is important to understand what happened to the Jews because they are a bell weather for many other things. The Jews in Israel are the decedents of the survivors of the Jews of Europe, and those that would kill them all must be seen for what they are.

Survivors in the Catskills – Once there were veterans of Gettysburg still with us, and then they were gone. There were survivors of the trenches in World War 1, and they are gone. With the passing of these people goes first hand real witnesses and then the memories and meaning are attached to people who weren’t there. Soon enough, the last witnesses of the Holocaust will be gone and the witness testimony goes with them. Already, in museums all over the world, the Holocaust is being ‘de-Jewed,’ and turned into soft sell stories about ‘social justice’ which has nothing to do with genocide and anti-Semitism. We say we won’t forget, but we will.

CHINA

China is clearly a state on the rise with a huge ethically homogenous population and leadership with a strong ‘will to power.’ They have vision, energy, and determination, much like the United States once had. Will they dominate the world? The future will hinge on the Chinese people and state. Great writers and reporters are chronicling the story.

Ideology Is Losing. China Is Winning – The Chinese are highly focused on results regardless of ideology.

The Thirty Tyrants – American and Europeans made China rise by agreeing to relocate portions of our economy there. This made sense in some ways, but many citizens lost in this great transfer of wealth and power. And now, we have the powerful nation state of China to deal with. Who, and why?

The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War? – This classic essay from 2015 examines the trend of dominant powers coming to blows with rising powers. The US is a dominant power and has been since the end of WW2. China is a rising power since the 1970s when Mao died and the country was economically liberalized. Will these great powers come to military conflict, as great and rising powers have in the past?

Red Dusk – Here is a contrarian view on the Chinese. China has baked in failure over time.

China’s Impossible Dream of Order – China struggles to get out of the trap the past created.

China’s Lessons from Russia’s War – Paul Rudd, the former PM of Australia, writes about what the Chinese leadership is taking from the war in Ukraine. Spoiler: they won’t be deterred by Russian failure.

China’s new carrier – Getting ahead but still far behind the US capability.

HISTORY

You can’t understand the present or future if you aren’t grounded in history. Life didn’t start yesterday, and no idea is truly new.

Our History Then and Now – A country with a national narrative of villainy cannot prevail long. It wasn’t always that way, and great histories enlighten and entertain, but we are not in a day of great histories: “Yet the days when moderate men wrote eloquent and inspiriting American histories — and were handsomely rewarded for their excellence — are gone, perhaps never to return. The objective of more recent historians is to leave the reader feeling soiled by his contact with our past.

An Almost-Blessing and an Almost-Curse for an Almost-Chosen Nation – But, there is still great writing out there looking over the past to find meaning for the present and direction for the future. Such writers are a treasure to cherish.

Has America Lost Its Story? – The hero journey of the United States inspired all walks of life to pursue freedom from slavery and tyranny. Is that still our story and vision?

Taken for Granted – General Ulysses Grant is remembered for his leadership in the Civil War, and his tarnished administration, but he was a fascinating character who showed no promise early in his life.

On and Off the Pedestal – Robert E. Lee has a unique and complicated place in American history.

The Revenge of History – You may not be interested in history, but history is interested in you. What has been is always with us because human nature is hard wired to human outcomes. The literature of humanity confirms across the generations that war and conflict come with the package, and the values that build prosperity are with us still but must be defended from the values of anarchy and destruction.

Much more than a Man – The French Revolution was a bloody affair that radically effected American history, and it’s characteristics and impulses are with us today. This review of a new book about Robespierre, the revolution’s primary leader, reminds us that bad ideas come to bad ends, and often bring about even worse results. Robespierre departed after leaving behind pools of blood, but he made way for Napoleon, who brought war and disaster to all of Europe.

Re-imagining the Great Emancipator – The American Civil War was long and blood soaked. The South thought the North would sue for peace eventually but they underestimated Lincoln and how much suffering he had endured in his life. He would carry on to the end, and through the power of his words and his adherence to classical ideas of human longing and freedom, deliver the country to a new shore.

Why Complex Systems Collapse Faster – Ruin, which we may also call “collapse,” is a feature of our world.

REGIME CHANGE, AMERICAN STYLE – Nixon fell, and with him, the fate of South Vietnam was sealed.

Watergate Fifty Years Later – Another great take on a consequential era in recent US history.

THE POPE’S SECRET BACK CHANNEL TO HITLER – The Nazi regime was not friendly to the church and recently released documents show that the Pope, Pius XII, negotiated to ease restrictions on the church in Germany. It’s all here, the same issues between church and state that vex us today.

Highways to Utopia – The West has advanced humanity with superior ideas about the worth of each individual, but now faces a crisis of extinction long predicted. Roger Kimball does a great job here of connecting the threads.

Russia’s Path to Premodernity – Russia is not east or west or part of any specific order.

The Persistence of Ideology – This short article is full of gems and timeless truths about humanity. There is always someone who thinks their ideas will usher in the end state or humans where we no longer need governments and can live in peace. “Dissatisfaction,” the author writes, “is the permanent state of mankind, at least of civilized mankind.” But that day never comes, and will never come. Life is not perfectible.

The Great Battle of Gettysburg – Slavery was effectively ended here as this terrible fight ended the opportunity for the Confederacy to survive.

The Americanness of the American Revolution – The American Revolution occurred in the same time frame as the French Revolution, except their devolved into blood and beheadings and ours did not. Why?

God and the Ghosts of Communism – Albania’s brutal war on both Christianity and Islam shows that no religion is still a religion.

Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are – David McCullough died recently, but here are his words on why reading history is critical to freedom and humanity. Another voice of reason lost.

Where Did Wokeness Come From? – the cultural left has been ascendant in the US for at least 50 years and now is dominant. Where did it come from?

DEMOGRAPHICS

The biggest story in the world is about falling populations. The population of the world will cease going up, peak, and then decline in no more than 30 years. All over the world, families and individual women are having fewer children, and no one knows why. There are theories, but nothing definitive and therefore, no way to know if this trend will reverse itself before the world population begins to fall for the first time in history. The biggest story of our time is the rapidly changing demographics of the world and yet it barely gets reported on until recently.

The Fading Family – Does no one like children anymore?

Opioids and the Unattached Male – My parents were married for 58 years. My grandparents, and aunts and uncles, all were part of long term relationships and all had kids. Something fundamental has changed. Whatever it is, it is the most powerful force on earth as it is ending the traditional way men and women relate to each other. Many men fill those empty hours apart from a home and family with drugs.

The Children if Men is really happening – A great movie, come to life, and it doesn’t have a very happy ending.

Can China’s Communist Party defuse its demographic time bomb? – The 4-2-1 math is unforgiving and the Chinese would have to start mandating babies to overcome it.

The Book That Incited a Worldwide Fear of Overpopulation – Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb was wrong in virtually all its dire predictions but it still was widely influential.

No Fathers, No Hope – This is not about demographics, but has much to say about our modern attitude towards children and childbirth.

The Young and the Restless – Saudi Arabia and Iran have plenty of young people, unlike Europe, but they have different visions of the future. One will win, one will decline.

Where have all the babies gone? – The story is being picked up on my more and more media outlets. The pandemic laded bare the biggest story of all time.

How The Ukraine War Could End: Stalemate Or Russia Captures Kharkiv And Odessa – Sadly, this is a tale of demographics as the Russians and the Ukrainians are going to win or lose on the ability to stand loses. In the end, Russia’s delated population will deplete shower that the Ukrainian population.

Global population to hit 8 billion this year, U.N. says – News about the peak of the population is now widely reported. Most of the growth to come will be in only 8 countries, all in Africa or Asia.

Russia’s Republic of Grief – The Russians don’t have enough kids to staff a military so the rely on the ethnic republics to do the fighting and dying. Declining populations won’t mean a more peaceful world.

The Unexpected Future – What was not reported a few years ago is now widely reported. Some countries, like Japan, are just going to accept it and lay back.

Growing share of childless adults in U.S. don’t expect to ever have children – The reasons here are cited as well.

Europe’s Twilight: Christianity Declines, Islam Rises – Will Islam simply follow on in a few decades? What will become of Europe and the remnant population by then?

Russia is dying out – More news about the falling population of the world’s largest country.

ENTERTAINMENT

Movies and TV shows still dominate the culture around the world.

Suffering and Honor in Yellowstone – The best show on television

The Mystery of L.A. Billboard Diva Angelyne’s Real Identity Is Finally Solved – Hollywood attracts all kinds, and often, they are people with something they want to escape. I used to see Angelyne around town, along with other locally famous stand outs, and never wondered much where she came from. But, in spite of the shallow pink veneer she put forward, those were deep and dark waters.

Top Gun 2’ Becomes Tom Cruise’s Biggest Global Hit – I’ve written about Tom Cruise and what I call the ‘Cruise Index‘ and I’ll have to update the metric soon. Incredibly, Cruise has not had a movie in the ‘billion dollar club,’ until now.

‘Jaws’ and the Internal Debate Over Who Wrote the Iconic USS Indianapolis Speech – It was a defining moment in a defining film. Quint reveals he survived a shark attack on the survivors of the USS Indianapolis. The speech itself can be seen here.

Kingly – This is a great review of the new Elvis movie, which is awesome and it addressed this libel that Elvis ‘stole’ black music. As this writer puts it, “The reality of American musical culture is that it’s a shared heritage of which we all have common ownership. You can’t steal what’s already yours.”

He Was No Mouse – The short story of Walt Disney, his miserable childhood and how Mickey came to be.

Netflix Earnings Preview: Wall Street Expects Subscriber Drop and Detail About Its Ad Ambitions – The company that brought down the mighty Blockbuster chain is now faltering. Success, as has been widely noted, is a terrible teacher. I wrote about the decline of Blockbuster here.

MEM & J – Io Sono Giorgia (Giorgia Meloni Remix) – I could have put this in politics, but it’s just so entertaining. Giorgia is an Italian politician described as far right and some genius took one of her speeches and made a dance mix of it that was meant to mock and parody her lines which include “a woman, a mother, an Italian and a Christian” and the effect ended up being so good that it was shared by everyone. And it is good!

Aaron Sorkin’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Abruptly Cancels Return to Broadway, Blaming Producer Scott Rudin – At the height of the ‘Me Too’ moment, I recall thinking that To Kill A Mockingbird was going to have to go since it was about a woman falsely accusing a man of abuse.

The Immorality of ‘The Godfather’ = One of the greatest American films tells a story of legitimacy v tribalism.

POLITICS

Politics are a necessary function that is required to run a healthy society. Even tribes have a certain amount of politics. Often issues than have no business being in the political sphere are dragged in, and we find ourselves with political subjects that are representational and not just practical. Such is the spirit of our times.

The Weather Underground’s Lasting Victory – I have written about the triumph of Billy Jack and the hippy generation. Counter-culture is the mainstream culture in the United States now. This article is a report from an insider to the Weather Underground, a radical revolutionary organization from the years of upheaval we now just refer to as ‘the sixties.’

The Rise of Corporate-State Tyranny – Do we still even want to be free?

A popular form of monomania – Politics as transcendent meaning is a very dangerous development. …ideology appears in a balkanized form, with a rich variety of monomanias, ranging from the “liberation” of sexual proclivities to the salvation of the biosphere. But, as if to prove the theory of intersectionality, various monomanias have formed tactical alliances with one another, such that if you know a person’s monomania, you also know what his attitude to many seemingly unrelated questions will be.

Ukraine’s Deadly Gamble – More great writing from Tablet. Ukraine is a big country but surrounded by powerful neighbors. Betting on the West was not smart.

The Jews Who Didn’t Leave Egypt – There has always been people who don’t want to be free.

How Institutions Crumble – I have written about how I have left many of the foundational institutions I was born to here, but more broadly, we are entering a period in which institutional validity is traded for short term gain. This is how societies fail.

Freakout Nation – The therapeutic state is failing us and leading to a nation of wanderers. I wrote about this extensively in Loners.

ECONOMICS

There is no ‘economy’ in the sense that it exists somewhere. It is more of the aggregate activity of humanity acting in their own best interest. The individual actions sum up to the world economy which is dynamic, volatile, and critical to human health and happiness.

A New Inflationary Era – Falling populations means fewer workers producing goods at the same time governments around the world have increased the money supply. AS a rule, scare labor and plenty of cash floating around should equal. not a transitory inflation, but a era of rising prices.

The Coming Resource Wars – Great summary of economic history. We thought ‘knowledge work’ would carry us forward forever and that stuff like getting or making things would become the domain of cheap labor. But, things matter. And this article has this historical nugget dropped in: “The Southern planters—oligarchs who raised first tobacco and then cotton for export—did not care what race their unfree workers were, settling on African and African American slaves only after experiments with exploiting Native American labor and European indentured servants had failed. And as Barbara Fields and other scholars have observed, Southern racism was formulated and enforced to rationalize labor exploitation in the plantation system, both before and after the abolition of slavery.” Resource wars have always been with us.

Two Weeks to Flatten the GDP – This is where we are now.

The Energy Crisis Will Deepen – Oil is still the most important molecule in economics, and we are going to be short of it. Daniel Yergin, the world’s preeminent oil economist, explains.

Free trade is dead, welcome to ‘Freedom Trade’ – This summary of the past 70 years of trade explains the role of the United States in spreading wealth across the world. These Chinese have exploited this system, and that must stop.

WRITERS AND BOOKS:

GOOD CALORIES BAD CALORIES by Gary Taubes

ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC by Robert Whitaker

THE BIG FAT SURPRISE – by Nina Teicholz

Paul Johnson

Daniel Yergin

Walter Russell Mead