At the global level, however, inequality is the elephant in the room. It’s where almost all our attention should be focused. Any article on “inequality” (no qualifier) should begin with a description of how much better things are than back in the horrible 1950s and 1960s when inequality caused misery that is simply beyond human comprehension. But that’s not how most articles on equality begin. They start by referring to the 1950s and 1960s as a “golden age,” which is an insult to the tens of millions of Chinese who were starving to death while American economists were completely focused on reducing unemployment from 5% to 4%.
Before [the demons] marched away on their new route,
Around the dyke there on the left they wheeled,
Poking their tongues out in a long salute—
A tribute to their captain in the field.
He turned, bent down, and as he watched them pass
He hailed them with the trumpet of his arse.
Inferno, Canto 21.

the Home Alone scene in the New Testament

Until recently I was unaware of this — Luke 2:41 et seq.:

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?"

But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

In 1989 Francis Fukuyama made a bold prediction. The world would become increasing democratic and market-oriented. Other political models would gradually wither away. He called this “The End of History.” Here are a couple facts about his prediction:

1. It would be difficult to find any other prediction in the humanities or social sciences that has proved more accurate. There are many more democratic countries than in 1989, and policy has become much more market-oriented in most countries.

2. When intellectuals discuss his prediction today, 99% assume it failed to come true. Indeed most utter the phrase “the end of history” with undisguised contempt.

Thus in future cities crammed with computer hardware, roughly half of the volume is likely to be taken up by pipes that move cooling fluids in and out. And the tech for such pipes will probably be more stable than tech for energy or computers. So if you want a stable career managing something that will stay very valuable for a long time, consider plumbing.
Robin Hanson, “A Future of Pipes”
But Dante isn’t thinking of regularity in the first instance any more than he is thinking of rhyme, which is too easy in Italian to be thought a technical challenge: in fact for an Italian poet it’s *not* rhyming that’s hard.
Clive James

real-estate treachery

My family unit is looking for a new apartment. Out of three “professional” viewings we’ve experienced, all three have involved the agent slyly telling us that the place we inquired about was taken or occupied or otherwise unavailable — but would we be interested in looking at another, slightly more expensive place? We grit our teeth, feeling slightly exploited, but agree anyway — not that we’ve actually taken any of the up-sold apartments. 

I have the sense that this is a well known real-estate “trick of the trade” — but why? Are we sure this actually benefits the agents in any way, or are they just doing it out of some now outdated instinct — the posthumous twitch of a dead commercial appendage? Surely the idea is that we’ll be so won over by the nicer apartment that the one we had intended to see will become unacceptable by comparison — but are people really so dumb and gullible that they forget about the price difference? And isn’t it insulting to be told that the home you initially wanted to see is actually a disgusting hellhole, but one that’s only $25 more per month is quite lovely? How could the market be so inefficient? Is the agent planning to rip us off on the nice apartment, or was she planning to rip us off on the cheap apartment? Either way, she’s an asshole. 

In general, aren’t these petty machinations out of place in a world where real-estate agents (and used-car salesmen etc.) are ex ante thought to be loathsome and untrustworthy? I’m already suspicious, already prepared to cut things short at the first whiff of bullshit — and surely I’m not the only one! So the bait-and-switch treatment is at least as likely to make me call it quits as to grin and bear it. Not a good risk-reward for the scamster!

Real estate is terrible.