Medley 246: Creator Towns, Happy Cities, Culture, Sports, Companies, Biases, Still Alive...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

I'm extremely excited to announce the new project I'm working on: Building the first Creator Town outside Austin! Here are my announcement tweets, and you can add your info here to make sure you get updates (I won't send updates here). The first update goes out tomorrow or Wednesday!

This is the project I'm 100% focused on moving forward. I might do a couple other info products or things to help fund it, but the majority of my work energy going forward is all in on this project.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of City Building

Now you know why this has been a section almost every week the last couple months, huh?

I really liked Mr Money Mustache's article on "The Happy City and Our $20 Trillion Opportunity." The book is high up on my "to read" list.

I don't think anyone actually likes suburbs. You kinda have the worst of both worlds. You don't have anything good in walking distance, and you don't have enough land to really have fun with. You have some neighbors, sure, but that could be just as much a con as a pro.

Redesigning and beautifying cities to make them green, walkable, with a big mix of people from every age and class has gotten significantly easier in the last year with the rapid shift to online work. Big cities will take a long time to adjust, but there's a huge opportunity in small towns to take advantage of the new world of work and adjust their layouts accordingly.

I'm particularly curious about cities changing their relationships with roads and cars. Seeing if they can find ways to restrict parking primarily to the edges of the city, with more roads converted into boulevards and walkways within.

I really like how Mr. Mustache is thinking about this, I'll have to reach out to him about it at some point.

The World of Biden

Trump is gone! The overall vibe feels a little lighter, doesn't it? But alas, there are still political things to be concerned about.

That said, Andrew Sullivan had an interesting article on "Biden's Culture War Aggression."

He makes the argument, which I'm inclined to agree with, that some of Biden's priorities as demonstrated by his executive actions may increase the social and political disenfranchisement of the significant number of Americans who elected Trump in the first place.

For one, going far left of both Trump and Obama on immigration could have some interesting consequences. Trump won in part from rising concern by poor whites in America that their jobs were being taken by immigrants. As Sullivan says:

"In every major democracy, mass immigration has empowered the far right. Instead of easing white panic about changing demographics, Biden just intensified it."

Will dramatically relaxing immigration restrictions lead to an even stronger populist energy in four years? I guess we'll see, but I can't imagine it will help. I'll be really curious to see what happens after the 100 day moratorium on deportations.

Biden also does seem to have established that trans women cannot be denied participation in women's sports:

"Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports."

I'm particularly curious to see how that one plays out. On the one hand, no one should be denied from doing the things they love. On the other, if it becomes common for trans women to compete in sports against cisgender women, that's not going to end particularly well for the cisgender women. You can see both sides of the locker room argument fairly easily, too. I don't have a strong view either way here, I just think it's odd that he chose to enforce this in an executive order in his first week.

The World of Companies

I loved this visualization on the Most Valuable Companies of All Time.

It's incredible that the Dutch East India Company managed to become worth what would today be almost $8 Trillion, in an era before Internet or telephones!

It's also pretty impressive they had 70,000 employees, who would have had to be managed directly and by letters. That completely boggles my mind. Talk about good decentralized command.

The World of Fact Checking

I had a history teacher who would always say "there are no facts, just generally accepted beliefs."

I rather like that philosophy, and I think it's true. The whole "alternative facts" debacle was an embarrassing gaffe by Kelly-Anne Conway, but there's a bit of truth to it too.

Part of what we rely on for understanding "fact vs fiction" is "fact checkers." But, just like the rest of us, fact checkers are stupid monkeys who will read their biases into everything they touch.

That's why I like these ideas about reducing bias in fact checking. One that stood out to me was having "adversarial fact checking," where a fact is investigated by left-leaning and right-leaning fact checkers, then both of their research is presented side by side.

We could even create a sort of metacritic-esque chart of the truthiness of something. And we could put bloggers on it. I wonder how I'd score?

Last but Not Least

Slate Star Codex, probably my favorite blogger online, is back! And he has a great writeup on the whole adventure of his interaction with the NYT, taking his blog down, and why he's now back.

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,
Nat

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