Recommendation: Econtalk with Matt Ridley on How Innovation Works

I highly recommend this episode of Econtalk with Matt Ridley talking about how innovation makes inventions useful by making them available, affordable and reliable. The Academy of Ideas podcast is a good overview of the book’s key points about how innovation works and made me feel that I probably didn’t need to read it. This excellent interview with Russ Roberts…

Not long ago, or Little by little (4): Dolly Parton on the scar on her toes

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… Somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains c1950… Jad Abumrad: She told me one story about how one day, when she was about seven or eight, she…

Not long ago, or Little by little (3): scarcity and subsistence in rural Suffolk

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… A village in Suffolk [in the east of England], circa 1900: There were seven children at home and father’s wages had been reduced to 10…

Not long ago, or Little by little (2): Indoor plumbing

[Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s the Chinese city of Kunming in 1980: Li Kunwa and Phillipe Ôtié’s A Chinese Life is an amazing memoir – a lens into sixty years of struggle and upheaval…

Not long ago, or Little by little (1)

Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s London in 1930. Ethel has left her work as a lady’s maid; Ernest is a milkman. Raymond Briggs’ Ethel and Ernest is a brilliant book – very funny, very poignant. I share it here as an example…

Max Roser: defining global development

This is a really interesting interview with Max Roser, founder and editor of Our World in Data. Recommend. The idea of development is to make progress against problems. If we go back into our history, humanity has always battled the same problems: kids died early, people remained hungry for much of the year, lived in poor conditions, and lived in…

By invitation and by necessity

I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of “outsiders coming in.” … I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here. Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here…

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…

Contextualising best practice: one size does not fit all

Here’s another example of how “best practice” is context dependent, this time in responses to the Covid-19 crisis: What’s the point? The point – especially for those working with poor or marginalised communities – is that standard “best practice” from other contexts is unlikely to transfer directly to where you’re working. Education, health services, housing policy and politics don’t occur…