15th Selected Links

1 min read

Some links for you to enjoy over the weekend:

1. During the week, I spoke with Andy Lee, one half of iconic Australian comedy duo Hamish & Andy. Andy told me that the duo aims for "fun not funny" and that their comedy arises serendipitously out of the fun they create. This is an example of what British economist John Kay calls "obliquity". You can watch him explain the concept in this three and a half minute video.

2. 'Narrative expectations in financial forecasting', a new research article by Samuel Johnson and former guest of the podcast David Tuckett.

3. 'How To Be Good', Larissa MacFarquhar's terrific New Yorker profile of the late, great Derek Parfit, who before his passing in 2017 was the Socrates of our time.

4. The closing three paragraphs of Derek Parfit's final work, On What Matters: Volume III. Here he writes about existential risk and why humanity's survival is more important than most people realise, but he does it in Spartan, moving prose.

5. Last Friday was evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins' 80th birthday. Here are the opening lines of chapter one of his 1998 book Unweaving the Rainbow. Many atheists (and some theists) have asked for these words to be read out at their funerals. I've reprinted them below for your convenience.

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."

Have a lovely Easter weekend,