Week of January 6, 2020

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Pizza Toast

Craig Mod has a pizza toast obsession that grew into a Showa obsession, a kissa obsession, and then a community hub and aging population and “shuttered town” obsession. Really beautiful writing.

Warnings that implore parents not to leave their infants in their cars as they play, hypnotized for hours by small metal balls. This was the belt of Japanese road I had now been walking for two days. A belt where parents accidentally roasted their children.

But then that stretch of sin and sameness fell away. Homes, small gardens, marks of human scale began to appear, and just outside of Gifu city proper, I spotted a sign. A tiny square with modernist design impulses that spelled out “Yashiro” in Japanese. As I neared and saw the gently radiused windows, the petite frosted-glass globe above the doorway, I was pretty certain they’d have what I was looking for: pizza toast.


Darts

Come for the incredibly bad predictions that are compiled in this post, stay for a great summary of the book Superforecasting.

Before you make serious portfolio changes based upon some urgent warning, be sure you are well aware of the risks and opportunity costs of doing so…and make sure you know the full and complete track record of the forecaster upon which you are relying. Very few “expert” forecasters will talk about their misses. And they all have lots of misses.


Assassin Marketplace

The future is going to be great. Brian Merchant reports on online assassination marketplaces and the very real people that are being targeted.

She fidgeted in her seat, and when she spoke, she mostly looked down at her plate. Seeing her in person made it abundantly clear: whoever had targeted Stern had succeeded in shattering her sense of security and well-being.


Drowning

Everything in personal finance is relative. Auren Hoffman writes about individuals that are financially drowning while making $300,000+ per year.

As is the case with privilege in any form, one cannot speak of it as it is essentially a heretical topic. 95% of Americans would slap you in the face if you told them you made $300k a year and were having money problems. Most would gladly trade places with you in a heartbeat. Nevertheless, it helps to understand the history and metrics we use to we measure income disparity at the very top – how can we quantify who is struggling when people are making enormous sums of money?


PJs

I remember reading about parajumpers in high school—maybe in some alternative universe I actually followed through on that interest and became one of these cowboys.

For many across the armed forces, however, the PJ is a cowboy. PJs embrace the image, tattooing green footprints on their ass cheeks to commemorate their wild legacy, the footprints taken after impressions PJ helicopters would leave on Vietnamese landing fields. Their wild legacy contains numerous exemplars: PJs jumping with patients from exploding helicopters, PJs flying into hurricanes and 80-foot waves, PJs taking bullets to the head and then returning to combat. One story tells of two PJs wrestling in an Afghan hut after a grenade rolled by; each tried to shield the other, competing over who should save whom. The grenade never detonated.


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