Thinks 93

We’re better off with mRNA vaccines: An interview with Harvard Chan School immunologist Sarah Fortune. “When we vaccinate people, basically we take a little chunk of the pathogen, in this case SARS-CoV-2, and we give people (in a safe form) – we give people that little chunk of pathogen. Vaccination started with actually the pathogen itself in some crippled form. And then we’ve moved to safer and safer iterations of that by whittling down the parts of the pathogen that we give to people. And so the traditional way of giving parts of pathogens is to give the whole protein. So, many vaccines that people would have received in childhood are protein vaccines. And this is sort of the next frontier of vaccine technology in which instead of giving the protein, you’re giving the sort of message, the map for how the body makes that protein, which is called mRNA, and you’re making the body make that protein.”

Why Email Remains One of the Most Important Marketing Tools: “The number of global email users will rise to more than 4 billion in 2021. This means that around half of the world’s population uses email. Clearly, marketers should be focused on this vast amount of communication.”

F.A. “Baldy” Harper’s: “An essential feature of a liberal government is the protection of minorities, and of the rights of minorities against plunder by the majority. The ultimate of minorities is one person. And so the ultimate of liberalism … is the protection of each person against the plunder of one or more other persons.[Via CafeHayek.]

Thinks 92

Disruption Decade: “The decade ahead is ushering in a period of economic transformation unprecedented in speed, scale and scope—yet not everyone views this moment in the same way.”

We’re Never Going Back: “The future of work is remote, and companies don’t really have a choice.”

Arnold Kling on Martin Gurri: “20th-century elites and institutions relied on having a much less chaotic and engulfing information environment. Politicians, journalists, and academics now are overwhelmed by: (a) what they don’t know that others do know. Think of citizens using cell phones to cover events sooner and more completely than paid journalists; and (b) by the amount that others know about them that they used to able to keep secret…The elites cannot accept the new reality that there is so much information that they cannot control. They see new competitors as illegitimate (“fake news”) and they blame others for elites’ loss of status and respect.”

Thinks 91

Clean Water to Indian homes: “Modi’s next election play is ensuring clean water in all 192 mn rural homes. [The] programme aims to supply at least 55 litres of potable water to each person per day by building new pipelines.”

How To Fix The Indian Financial System’s Five Big Challenges: by Rajiv Lall. Credit growth, decline of trust, extreme risk aversion, access to finance, gaps in long-term finance.

Thinks 90

Capitalism Is What Will Defeat Covid: from WSJ. “The vaccine revolution didn’t happen on its own. It’s a product of decades of planning and investment…J&J’s road to the vaccine—from failure to life-saving success, from investment write-off to breakthrough—is a little-known story about science, business risk and innovation. There are also lessons for those who think capitalism is merely about rapacious profit.”

About Roblox: “What makes Roblox different from anything else in the games industry — including a storefront like Steam — is that all the games are made by its users. On Roblox, the fun doesn’t just come from playing games, it also comes from making games. These games are not formally developed by Roblox Corporation, but by users of the platform. Currently, the official website boasts that its users have published over 20 million games on the platform.”

Reading: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. Beautiful writing.

Thinks 89

The Most Important Chart of the Decade: by Michael Batnick. (US context). “During a recession, the economy contracts, and people lose their job. And when they lose their job, they lose the ability to save money. But this was no ordinary recession. Yes, people lost their job, but they didn’t lose their income, thanks to a fiscal bazooka like we’ve never seen before. And when the economy closed, their spending declined to a fraction of what it otherwise would have been.  Add this all up, and you get this amazing result where the personal savings rate explodes. Mathew Klein at Barron’s shows that Americans have saved $1.8 trillion more than they would have had we not experienced a pandemic. Wow. Just wow.”

Akira Kurosawa: The note taker: “From this point on, my approach to literature changed. I made a deliberate effort to change it. I began to read carefully, asking myself what the author was trying to say and how he was trying to express it. I thought while I read, and at the same time I kept notes on the passages that struck some emotional chord in me. When I reread in this new way things I had read in the past, I realised how superficial my initial reading had been.”

Reading: The Beirut Protocol by Joel Rosenberg

Thinks 88

On Opinion Polls: by Atanu Biswas. “Opinion polls often suffer from serious ‘non-response error’. Many people may be sceptical of polls, especially when their opinions are in the voter’s ‘wrong’ direction. In the US, response rates to telephone public opinion polls conducted by Pew Research Center have exhibited steady decline — a 9% response rate in 2016 to 6% in 2018, to 5% or less today. Poll predictions are bound to ignore the views of the remaining non-responsive 95%, while the respondents may not be a representative sample at all. And there is no guarantee that some respondents aren’t lying.”

Revealing the Real Picture Behind India’s Unemployment Problem: by Vivek Kaul.

How to speak in public: from Psyche Guides. “Think about the audience, think about why you’re talking, think about your audience’s happiness, practise.”

Thinks 87

21st-century consumers will change capitalism for the better: from The Economist. A special report on the future of shopping. “More accurate and voluminous data about shopping patterns are breaking down the decades-long relationship between mass consumption and mass production. In its place is a more varied world in which the shopper can decide whether to buy online or in store, whether to shop via platforms or from individual brands, and whether to accept targeted ads or not. The store will not die, but producers and consumers will have a more direct relationship with each other.”

Bangladesh at 50: by (NYT). “Bangladesh may have once epitomized hopelessness, but it now has much to teach the world about how to engineer progress. What was Bangladesh’s secret? It was education and girls.”

The Lockdowns Weren’t Worth It: by Philippe Lemoine (WSJ). “There’s a reason no government has done a cost-benefit analysis: The policy would surely fail.”

Thinks 86

If Big Tech has our data, why are targeted ads so terrible?: from FT. A question I have also wondered often!

The transformation promised by an embrace of market capitalism: by Narain Batra. “Today, there are 348 PSEs with a total investment of over ₹16.4 trillion and more than a million employees, according to the Department of Public Enterprises. Privatizing them would open up space for the private sector to expand and innovate, as well as create huge investment opportunities for Indian and global players.”

Frederick Douglass in 1880: “No right was deemed by the fathers of the Government more sacred than the right of speech. It was in their eyes, as in the eyes of all thoughtful men, the great moral renovator of society and government.”

Thinks 85

A History of Microsoft Excel. “Anyone who has worked in finance or consulting grew up on it, learned to love it over thousands of hours of practice and improvement. Whether they realized it or not, they were becoming programmers, or at least no-code practitioners before the no-code movement took off. “Proficient in the Microsoft Office Suite” is so meaningless that it’s become a meme, but the ability to bend one specific Office program, Excel, to one’s will is a badge of honor. But the enduring, passionate user fervor for the product isn’t even its most unique attribute. Excel’s most lasting impact extends beyond the spreadsheet itself.”

Cash Is Turning Out to Be the Most Effective Welfare: by Noah Smith. “For too long people in need have been stereotyped as lazy and dependent. Cash payments give them the breathing room to chart a better life course.” India needs Dhan Vapasi.

The Roblox Microverse: by Ben Thompson.

Thinks 84

Consumers Frustrated With The Online Shopping Experience, Study Finds: from MediaPost. “Consumers are bothered by these challenges: website search, website navigation, finding information…The biggest pain points for retailers are: shopping cart abandonment, low marketing conversion rate, low repeat business and low average purchase.”

Frank Chodorov: “I have never met an advocate of government intervention who did not admit, inadvertently, his own capacity for commissariat functions. He always has a plan, to which others must submit, and his certainty that the plan will produce the contemplated results does not permit him to brook criticism. Always he is the fanatic. If you disagree with him it is not because you are in error; it is because you are sinful.” Via CafeHayek.

Reading: 2034: A Novel of the Next World War