Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 129

Here it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

How much is a word worth? Not much, turns out. Which is bad news for journalism.

From flat-pack coffins to water cremation: how to have an eco-friendly death.

Have algorithms destroyed personal taste?

Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back.

How dying offers us a chance to live the fullest life.

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Please notice that the duration of the comments window is three days (including publication day), and that comments are moderated for relevance (to the post one is allegedly commenting on), redundancy (not good), and tone (constructive is what we aim for). This applies to both the suggested readings and the regular posts. Also, keep ‘em short, this is a comments section, not your own blog. Thanks!

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Categories: Plato's Suggestions

65 replies

  1. Socratic

    That’s not what I’ll be advocating right at this moment, but it’s taken pretty seriously among ambitious economists who aren’t even anti-capitalist. The fact is that we’re organizing our market economy in very inefficient ways that we can do without.

    As for “Am I going to tell some Tanzanian they can’t have the “American” lifestyle or even, say, the Polish one?” I don’t see what that has anything to do with it. Do you know what their policy proposals are?

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  2. One more point about degrowth policies, I suspect it’s necessary to try to implement in the sometime future (maybe the latter half of this century), even if you complete forget about life extension. I think the ecological economist Herman Daly has it right. I don’t think we’re going to last long with our planet’s resources with the current market economy.

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  3. ‘ Am I going to tell some Tanzanian they can’t have the …’

    You don’t have to tell the Tanzanian anything. It’s been well known for a long time that growth in developing countries is highly tied to human development, whereas in developed countries this is decoupled. In the US there has even been some regression.

    Figure 1 in the following link
    https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/239193.pdf

    This shows per capita energy consumption which tracks economic growth better than GDP especially for developing nations. This means that the industrial West has plenty of room to scale back it’s energy consumption without affecting the quality of life of it’s citizens, while allowing the developing world to catch up.

    Sometimes it also pays to take a somewhat theoretical look at eternal growth and see what kind of constraints pop up and their timescale. The physicist Tom Murphy wrote a number of interesting posts looking at the thermodynamic constraints. They give a great look at how silly long term exponential growth is.

    https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/07/can-economic-growth-last/

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  4. Growth is bottom up. It doesn’t stop until it loses energy and momentum. Civilization tries to channel it, but in a real contest between this bottom up dynamic and top down constriction, the dynamic eventually wins. Which is why we need to understand the process, not just hope it conforms to our beliefs and desires.
    Man might have goals, but nature is just cycles and recycles.

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  5. saphsin,

    ” think the ecological economist Herman Daly has it right. I don’t think we’re going to last long with our planet’s resources with the current market economy.”

    Indeed, which is why I think radical life extension would be a disaster. I suspect even with far better and more sustainable policies than the ones we now have in place.

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