Andrew Sullivan’s piece in ‘New York Times Magazine’ on the Opoid crisis in America made for grim and sad reading. Of course, some of the causes he alludes to strike a chord even if it is hard to empirically verify them or establish them. You can read the article here.
A British-American friend responded thus:
It’s difficult to analyse how the US has got itself into this position. There are many factors, including a collective cultural desire to be anaesthetised from whatever is disturbing or difficult. That’s been made easier by having a medical profession that’s symbiotically in cahoots with the insurance industry, making the feeding of addictions a win-win situation for both sectors. The human fallout is horrifying and there is probably not a family in the country that does not have someone who has been affected by this.
Reading this article (ht: Rohit Rajendran) in the ‘Politico’ magazine made me recall the movie, ‘It is a mad, mad, mad world’. I think the movie came in the Sixties. The extent to which electricity is consumed to ‘mine’ bitcoins boggles the mind. More fascinating are the quarrels and the social effects it has caused. It is a good piece of journalism.
The article does a very good job of explaining what ‘mining’ bitcoins is about and what forms a block and a blockchain, etc. I get it (kind of). But, I really wonder if it can ever threaten the monopoly of the State on money. If it does, its issuers become an alternative State. If it does not, it is a fad and a bubble. As long as the number of bitcoins does not exceed 21 million of them, its artificial scarcity value can be maintained. If it is increased, then it would begin to create doubts in the minds of authorities. Read it here.
Srinivas Varadarajan shared the link to a very thoughtful article on the ‘Tyranny of convenience’. Some sentences that stood out for me:
Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.
Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.
Today’s technologies of individualization are technologies of mass individualization.
Convenience is all destination and no journey.
Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.
We give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us.
Rajesh Raman shared the link to a long story in New York Times on how members of the Qatari royal family were taken hostage and the dizzy geopolitical calculations behind it. Worth reading, if only to understand a bit of the conflicts between nations (or, tribes) in the Arab Peninsula.
I liked this blog post of MarkGB on the demonisation of Putin. There are no villains nor heroes but only an understanding of high stake games that nations play. I am yet to figure out why the West is hellbent on driving the Russians into the hands of China.
Soeren Kern has a detailed blog post on the political correctness behind unreported rape and assault cases in Germany. What is the rationale for the political correctness or squeamishness?