Plod has a bunch of questions
From my request for requests, here goes:
– What does the NYT do well? And conversely what are they bad at?
– What is your theory on the rising lack of male ambition?
– Why do modern fantasy authors (Martin, Rothfuss, others) not finish their works?
– If you were chief economist czar of the US, what is the policy would you implement first? In the UK?
– Will non-12-tone equal temperament music ever become popular?
– What do you think will become of charter cities like Prospera?
I will do the answers by number:
1. The New York Times can publish superb culture pieces, most of all when they are not pandering on PC issues. Their music and movie reviews are not the very best, but certainly worth the time. International coverage is high variance, but they have plenty of articles with information you won’t find elsewhere. Some of the finest obituaries. The best parts of the Op-Ed section are indispensable, and the worst parts are important to read for other reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the NYT has all sorts of random articles that are just great, even if I don’t always like the framing. Try this one on non-profit hospitals.
On the other side of the ledger, the metro and sports sections I do not very much read (probably they are OK?). The business section has long been skimpy, and is not currently at its peak. Historical coverage with racial angles can be atrocious. The worst Op-Eds are beyond the pale in their deficient reasoning, and there are quite a few of them. On “Big Tech” the paper is abysmal, and refuses to look the conflict of interest issues in the eye. They just blew it on a new Covid study. The book review section used to be much better, I think mainly because it has become a low cost way to appease the Wokies.
2. Male ambition in the United States is increasing in variance, not waning altogether. But on the left hand side of that distribution I would blame (in no particular order): deindustrialization, women who don’t need male financial support anymore, marijuana, on-line pornography, improved measurement of worker quality, the ongoing rise of the service sector, too much homework in schools, better entertainment options, and the general increasing competitiveness of the world, causing many to retreat in pre-emptive defeat.
3. Male fantasy writers do not finish their works because those works have no natural ending. There is always another kingdom, a lost family member, a new magic power to be discovered, and so on. And the successful fantasy authors keep getting paid to produce more content, and their opportunity cost is otherwise low. Why exactly should they tie everything up in a neat bow, as Tolkien did with the three main volumes of LOTR?
4. For the United States, I would have more freedom to build, massive deregulations of most things other than carbon and finance, and much more high-skilled immigration, followed by some accompanying low-skilled immigration. For the UK I would do broadly the same, but also would focus more on human capital problems in northern England as a means of boosting economic growth.
5. Non-12-tone equal temperament music is for instance very popular in the Arabic world, and has been for a long time.
6. I have been meaning to visit Prospera, but have not yet had the chance to go. I expect to. My general worries with charter cities usually involve scale, and also whether they will just get squashed by the host governments, which almost by definition are dysfunctional to begin with. Most successful charter cities in history have had the support of a major outside hegemon, such as Hong Kong relying on Britain.
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