BRIEFLY NOTED: for 2021-03-04 Tu

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...

First:

Yonatan ZungerTolerance Is Not a Moral Precept. The Title of This Essay Should Disturb You: ‘As with any peace treaty, we must consider toleration in the broader context of the war which is its alternative, and we must recognize that peace is not always a possibility…. Among the worst wars of tolerance were the religious wars which tore through Europe between 1524 and 1648…. Protestants and Catholics each seeing the other as existential threats…. These wars came to an end… each ruler had the right to choose the religion of their state, and that Christians living in principalities where their faith was not the established faith still had the right to practice their religion. A decision was made, in essence, to accept the risk of the monster rather than the reality of the war…. Tolerance, viewed as a moral absolute, amounts to renouncing the right to self-protection; but viewed as a peace treaty, it can be the basis of a stable society. Its protections extend only to those who would uphold it in turn. To withdraw those protections from those who would destroy it does not violate its moral principles; it is fundamental to them, because without this enforcement, the treaty would collapse. It is appropriate, even ethical, to answer force with proportional force, when that force is required to restore a just peace. We seek peace because on the whole it is far better than war; but as history has taught us, not every peace is better than the war it prevents… LINK: <https://extranewsfeed.com/tolerance-is-not-a-moral-precept-1af7007d6376>


Briefly Noted:

  • My Great^12 Grandfather: WikipediaThomas Wyatt the Younger <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wyatt_the_Younger>

  • Wikimedia CommonsHawksbees Electrical Machine, by Jean-Antoine Nollet<https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hawksbees_Electrical_Machine_by_Jean-Antoine_Nollet.jpg>

  • Georgette Heyer Un-Conference Thursday 25 Feb <https://tanaudel.wordpress.com/2021/02/23/georgette-heyer-un-conference-thursday-25-feb/>

  • Martin WolfWhat Central Banks Ought to Target: ‘today’s broad approach to central banking is clearly the least bad. That does not mean it is easy to operate. It is quite likely that the monetary policy needed to generate maximum employment and stable inflation is consistent with all sorts of crazy activity in the financial system. We are surely seeing plenty of that now. But no sane central bank would deliberately create recessions in order to save finance from itself. Rather, it must save the economy from finance by tough regulation, especially of leverage… LINK: <https://www.ft.com/content/160db526-5e8d-4152-b711-21501a7fbd01>

  • American PurposeAbout: ‘A magazine, media project, and intellectual community…. We aim to defend and promote liberal democracy…. We seek to better understand and address the challenges…. We intend to offer criticism and commentary on history and biography, high art and pop culture, science and technology. Editorial Board: Francis Fukuyama, chair… LINK: <https://www.americanpurpose.com/about/>

  • WikipediaStendhal : ‘Marie-Henri Beyle… 23 January 1783–23 March 1842… pen name Stendhal… a 19th-century French writer. Best known for the novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839), he is highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters’ psychology and considered one of the early and foremost practitioners of realism… LINK: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stendhal>

  • WikipediaWolf Club: ‘An English electropop band from Derby. Formed in 2014, the band consists of Steven Wilcoxson (producer, guitarist and songwriter) and Chris Paul-Martin (producer, vocalist, and songwriter).[1] They are often joined on stage by DJ Tim Hartwell… LINK: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Club>



Seven Paragraphs:

Yuval Noah HarariLessons from a Year of Covid: ‘Automation and digitalisation have had an even more profound impact on services. In 1918, it was unthinkable that offices, schools, courts or churches could continue functioning in lockdown…. The switch online has many drawbacks, not least the immense mental toll…. In 1918, humanity inhabited only the physical world, and when the deadly flu virus swept through this world, humanity had no place to run. Today many of us inhabit two worlds — the physical and the virtual. When the coronavirus circulated through the physical world, many people shifted much of their lives to the virtual world, where the virus couldn’t follow…

LINK: <https://www.ft.com/content/f1b30f2c-84aa-4595-84f2-7816796d6841>


Warren BuffettLetter to Shareholders: ‘Most of Berkshire’s value, however, resides in four businesses…. The largest in value is our property/casualty insurance operation…. [Our] financial strength, coupled with the huge flow of cash Berkshire annually receives from its non-insurance businesses, allows our insurance companies to safely follow an equity-heavy investment strategy not feasible for the overwhelming majority of insurers. Those competitors, for both regulatory and credit-rating reasons, must focus on bonds. And bonds are not the place to be these days…. Risky loans, however, are not the answer to inadequate interest rates…. Berkshire now enjoys $138 billion of insurance “float”—funds that do not belong to us, but are nevertheless ours to deploy…. Our second and third most valuable assets… are Berkshire’s 100% ownership of BNSF, America’s largest railroad measured by freight volume, and our 5.4% ownership of Apple. And in the fourth spot is our 91% ownership of Berkshire Hathaway Energy (“BHE”)… a very unusual utility business, whose annual earnings have grown from $122 million to $3.4 billion during our 21 years of ownership…

LINK: <https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2020ltr.pdf>


Cat RamboOpinion: More Fuel for the Recent Baenfire: ‘The GoHs are the literal faces of the convention, smiling out from the convention advertising and program books… DisCon had to ask… Is supporting a place where a bunch of people spend their time expressing their hatred of other members of the F&SF community something that makes a field more awesome? as well as What do we do, knowing that a choice to keep Weisskopf will be read as an endorsement of those words? Words that support an armed coup. Words saying people with differing political beliefs should be killed. Words urging violence towards other people…. Baen cannot disavow responsibility for those words, regardless of whether or not they happened because someone was asleep at the wheel. One of the reasons a business cannot ignore the importance of moderating any boards that they run is that they are responsible for the words posted on there. They can’t just turn over the keys to the car and say “drive this where you like.” They’re still enabling that car to bounce along the highway, swerving to hit any pedestrian it suspects of being from a particular group…. When you are a leader, whether you like it or not, you are responsible for what is happening under your leadership, whether you’re aware of it or not, because that’s part of the role…. Baen can continue as it has… [with] “hate’s a good marketing strategy,” which may be savvy capitalism but I personally think equates with ethical bankruptcy…. My hope is, that with time and the rise of generations that have seen this approach and how hollow it is, hate will stop being so popular. I, for one, hail our new Tiktok and Hive overlords exercising the most punk attitude of all: kindness. Or Baen can… work to appeal to a wide range of readers, some of whom are being driven off by the current rhetoric being encouraged there on the forums the company sponsors and runs. That’s not a novel approach. Most publishers actually choose this one… 

LINK: <http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/2021/02/20/celebrations-and-disinvitations-more-fuel-for-the-baenfire/>


Enrique DansTwelve Things I’ve Learned After A Year Of Video Conferencing: ‘Zoom is by far the best…. Virtualize your camera: regardless of the software you use, virtualize your camera. Always. It’s probably what makes the biggest difference. My absolute recommendation is mmhmm…. Good lighting is key…. Don’t share your screen: when making a presentation, screen sharing is almost always the worst option, except in some specific cases (use of spreadsheets, etc.) Instead, share your presentations using the virtual camera, or use the virtual backgrounds to locate your presentation. This will give you more presentation options, you will be seen at all times at a reasonable size, and you will communicate better, more strongly…. Ration your calls : Video conferencing is tiring…. You… need to feel comfortable in an environment that is already the norm…. It costs very little to project a professional image, and that the effect is very noticeable…

LINK: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2021/03/01/twelve-things-ive-learned-after-a-year-of-video-conferencing/?sh=341bda41537e>


Daniel SeligsonFamily Ties: ‘[Joseph] Henrich’s study of kinship is interesting for its attempt to connect the world of norms… to the world of economic institutions…. [But] we must look elsewhere for answers to the central challenge of economic history—that is, the question of why the haves have, and the have-nots have not… LINK: <https://www.americanpurpose.com/articles/family-ties/>


John Maynard KeynesThe Choice of Units: ‘Our quantitative analysis must be expressed without using any quantitatively vague expressions. And, indeed, as soon as one makes the attempt, it becomes clear, as I hope to show, that one can get on much better without them…. That… incommensurable collections of miscellaneous objects cannot in themselves provide the material for a quantitative analysis need not… prevent us from making approximate statistical comparisons, depending on some broad element of judgment… which may possess significance and validity within certain limits. But the proper place for such things as net real output and the general level of prices lies within the field of historical and statistical description, and their purpose should be to satisfy historical or social curiosity…. To say that net output to-day is greater, but the price-level lower, than ten years ago or one year ago, is a proposition of a similar character to the statement that Queen Victoria was a better queen but not a happier woman than Queen Elizabeth—a proposition not without meaning and not without interest, but unsuitable as material for the differential calculus. Our precision will be a mock precision if we try to use such partly vague and non-quantitative concepts as the basis of a quantitative analysis… LINK: <https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/ch04.htm>


Katie MackTearing Apart the Universe: ‘Dark energy is pushing galaxies away from one another. Could this accelerating force lead to the universe-ending Big Rip? For a cosmic phenomenon that is arguably the most important thing in the universe, dark energy is surprisingly difficult to study. As far as we can tell, it exists everywhere in the universe, completely uniformly, woven into the fabric of space itself, and its only effect is to stretch space out so gradually that it has no detectable impact on any scale smaller than the vast expanses between distant galaxies… LINK: <https://www.americanscientist.org/article/tearing-apart-the-universe>