The unglamorous work of doing good (2)

I recently delivered some food parcels to families in our area. This was “helping those who have less” in one of its clearer and more concrete forms. I was happy to do it, but it didn’t feel that great: I loaded up my car, delivered the packages to some people who said thanks, and then drove home. It didn’t feel…

The unglamorous work of doing good (1)

The side of the tracks Among the most rewarding pieces of “good” that I’ve ever done was to start a micro-savings group for a small community of men and women who lived along a railway line in West Jakarta. It was hard: hot, dusty, dirty and smelly from the rubbish that they recycled for a living, always smokey from cigarettes…

DC goes exponential

Not really. But we did fly past six-thousand views in early June thanks to Tyler Cowen re-tweeting a link to this post about reading. The retweet (and subsequent RTs by a fraction of Cowen’s 160,000ish twitter followers) generated about 740 extra visits – so it’s a great little window into the power of well-connected nodes on a social network. It’s…

A somewhat reassuring thought

When your wariness about the future tips over into anxiety, when the world is not turning not only upside down but also inside out, and it looks like things might fall apart – it might be helpful to think of the best of times (either your own or some time when things were generally better) and then remind yourself that…

The operative word

Misquoted dialogue from Madam Secretary: “With the lives of tens of thousands of people on the line I hope this works.” “Hope being the operative word.” “Isn’t it always?”

A better world if

If on your way to making big, difficult changes to make the world better in future you repeatedly fail to do the small, mildly inconvenient things that would make the world a little bit better now – how do you rate your chances? Do them – hesitation and without fuss.

Network theory: Matthew O. Jackson on four types of connectedness

Recommended – link below. 1. The most basic [type of connectedness] that we all think of is just popularity: how many people you connect with. And that’s very natural – we count how many friends we have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter. And that gives a some idea of the reach of a person… and…

Deirdre McCloskey on liberty and human flourishing

The real ability of the poorest to buy goods and services rose, 1800 to the present, by 3,000 percent. Literally. A factor of thirty. … I take it you value human liberty and human flourishing. (If you do not, we have nothing to discuss, and can go straight to fighting it out in the streets.) You will know that the…

The water we swim in: Robert Pondiscio on culture and school performance

This extract is from is a great Econtalk discussion of How the Other Half Learns. Recommend. Robert Pondiscio: They [Success Academy Charter Schools] require an extraordinary level of parent commitment both in time and responsiveness. And it just seems pointless to deny that for some number of parents, this is simply too much. I want to be clear here that…

The onion strikes back: Maggie Koerth on the nested problems of Covid-19 testing

Covid-19 testing has been a mixed bag: Singapore and Korea seem to have been able to get on top of things quickly, while the UK and US (to pick too) have – at least in comparison – seemed barely able to get their act together at all. Maggie Koerth‘s discussion of the issue with Kevin Kelly and Mark Frauenfelder points…