March 30, 2015

Watch QVC Hosts Debate Whether the Moon is a Planet or Star (and a Lesson on Basic Economics)

QVC The Moon a Planet or Star

If you need something to brighten up your day (or make you feel despondent depending on how you look at it), this is living proof that all you have to do to be successful in life is give people what they want at a price that is higher than the cost it takes you to deliver it to them, with sufficient margins for risk, capital tie-up, and opportunity cost.  You can literally fail 3rd grade science and, if you satisfy a want, make six, seven, or even eight figures a year.  The system we have now fo … [Read more...]

Mental Model: Intergenerational Transmission and What It Has to Do With Adrian Peterson Beating His Child

Charlie Munger Mental Models

A huge percentage of the people in this community are fans of the mental model concept - ideas, like tools, that can be used to analyze, study, and understand both why and how something is happening - made popular by Charles Munger.  From signaling theory to satisficing, the Dunning-Kruger effect to Goldovsky errors, calibration errors to social loafing, veblen goods to the mere exposure effect, mental models can give your family advantages that put you far ahead of the typical household.  The … [Read more...]

The AGA Cooker – How a Blind Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Created One of the World’s Greatest Stoves

Aga Cooker 1

In 1912, one of Sweden's greatest inventors, physicist Gustaf Dalén, was blinded during an accident involving pressure containment for his gas accumulators.  He had created a device for use in unmanned lighthouses.  This device lit itself at night and extinguished in the morning, improving marine safety, thereby saving countless lives and immeasurable property.  Despite the setback of losing his vision, he continued to work, always thinking of new ideas for improving the world.  Before his death, … [Read more...]

Two Barred Owls Moved In Behind the House


Two barred owls have moved into the trees behind the house and have been hanging out for a few weeks.  They tend to fly together and one likes to stare into the windows, watching us inquisitively.  I almost managed to capture footage of both of them hanging out together but by the time I had the camera, one had flown across the stream and the other remained for less than a minute.  We think they are Barred Owls because the hoot is exactly the same like the one you hear in the movies. I do … [Read more...]

My Quarterly Project: Studying Counter-Evidence in Economics and Sociology

Dow 36,000

During my free time for the next few months, I'm practicing "counter evidence" a la the John Stuart Mill school of thought.  This means reading some texts far outside of the mainstream on a wide range of topics, including a few of the most illogical, discredited, and frankly, unhinged, books, essays, and speeches you'll ever encounter. The purpose is three-fold.  First, it allows me to sift through the mess and find one or two good ideas, which are almost inevitably buried in there somewhere. … [Read more...]

Mental Model: Expression Contagion

Expression Contagion

Whether you are a business leader, running a non-profit, or even a weekday book club, one of the most dangerous assumptions you can make as a decision maker is believing that people implicitly agree with you.  A lot of folks mistake lack of opposition for consent or affirmation when that is not necessarily the case.  This can create environments where nobody says what is really on their mind, bad policies get pushed through, reasonable objections aren't raised in time to prevent problems, and p … [Read more...]

The Factual Feminist and Intellectual Honesty

The Factual Feminist

I first mentioned feminist and former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers two years ago when I included a video clip to a university lecture she gave on the systematic discrimination boys face in the existing education system.  As I looked further into her work and writing, I was impressed with the intellectual honesty and non-biased nature of her research.  She believed in her cause and never resorted to cheap tricks to try and gain support, trusting that her audience was intelligent en … [Read more...]

Study Claims Hurricanes with Female Names More Deadly Because People Take Them Less Seriously

Hurricanes with Female Names Kill More Deadly

Whether identifying changes in public policy that could do exponential good or revealing internal assumptions about the way the world works, mental models are the best construct I've ever come across to categorize, analyze, study, document, and reflect upon the universe.  Yesterday, The Washington Post published an example of cognitive bias when it detailed how how subconscious beliefs can have life or death consequences for people as small inputs change the way they behave.  While the math leave … [Read more...]

The Amazing Intelligence of Honey Badgers

Honey Badger Intelligence

Honey badgers have one of the higher ratios of brain size to body size of known species.  It's one of the only animals besides man capable of sophisticated, intelligent planning, tool crafting, tool use, and strategy.  A video went viral today showing how truly astonishing they can be.  Watch this honey badger craft plots worthy of a sitcom to escape his enclosure. Honey badgers first got press a few years ago when a famous joke video blew up on the Internet.  In it, a guy did a voice over … [Read more...]

Words to Know: Mokita

Cool Words

The word Mokita is a fantastic word taken from a language called Kivila.  It is spoken in Papua New Guinea.  The best English translation you can get of Mokita is, "the truth we all know but agree not to talk about." There are several concepts in the English language related to the notion of Mokita, such as the "elephant in the room" (e.g., a horribly scarred accident victim sees friends for the first time, none of whom mention the drastically altered appearance), as well as so-called "polite … [Read more...]