Links and Books, March 2022

Posted on 31 Mar 2022 by Steve Markham

Busy and fun month!


  • ACX tries to define rationality. He doesn’t like Yudkowski’s “systematized winning” any more than I do. I like his separation of the process of truth-seeking from the result of truth-seeking. It is easy to confuse them when you are seeking truths about truth-seeking, which is how he defines rationality.
  • Pediatric booster effectiveness. Jeff and I were discussing this earlier in the day on the day this dropped.
  • Salt and Gold’s Footwashing Series, h/t reddit, which has a better gallery for this series than the artist’s site, imho.
  • Estimating excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic analysis of COVID-19-related mortality, 2020–21. Punchline: COVID directly killed ~6M people through the end of 2021, but excess mortality was ~18M.
  • Nuclear Deterrence 101. There wasn’t necessarily anything new in this blogpost, but it was written so clearly that both the necessity and the intrinsic craziness of nuclear deterrence was made clear. Long-ish at 8k words, but worth the read, imho.
  • Remove Barriers to Productivity. “While stimulus payments from Congress and the Fed successfully sustained American demand in the face of the global pandemic and averted a much bigger recession, demand-side fiscal and monetary policies won’t be nearly as useful in a supply-shock recession. To minimize the severity of the next recession, we must address the supply-side of the economy directly.” The second to last paragraph has hyperlinks to 21 ideas for boosting productivity to avoid stagflation.


  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart. I think I forgot to mention that we read book one as a family in Decemver and January. This is book two.
  • The Engima of Reasons. I like it. Even just the preface or first chapter (I’m listening–whatever summarizes the whole book) is highly recommended.
  • The Way of Kings. I checked it out for 21 days this time, and still had to cheat to finish it (it expried while i was listening, but as long as I didn’t pause I could keep listening, which I did for a half-hour). I liked it a lot, I just don’t do as much audio as I used to. I’m way behind on podcasts, now listening to January episodes of Mindscape. 6-8 week wait time for Book #2.


  • “Time to let the American broomstick fly and hear the sounds of freedom.” SpaceX’s launch director
  • “The best that most of us can hope to achieve in physics is simply to misunderstand at a deeper level.” Wolfgang Pauli, h/t Physics Explained on YT
  • “Continually looking for the meaning of life is like looking for the meaning of toast. It is sometimes better just to eat the toast.”