32nd Selected Links

2 min read

Happy weekend! Some of you informed me that the link to Pliny the Younger's letters to Tactitus was broken in last weekend's email. If you're interested, here are unbroken links to the first letter and the second letter. And here are some links to things I've been reading or watching this week that you might also enjoy:

1. 'Pop goes the rental', Saul Eslake's recentThe Saturday Paper opinion piece on Australia's "30-year property bubble".

2. With apologies to 'Flat Earth Dave', who emailed me during the week asking to come on the podcast, here is a video of Carl Sagan explaining how, about 2200 years ago, Eratosthenes deduced the circumference of Earth using nothing more than eyes, feet and brains.

An 1883 reconstruction of Eratosthenes' map of the world. He was the first cartographer to use parallels and meridians, consistent with his understanding of the spherical nature of our planet.

3. Buy Now, Pay Later: The extraordinary story of Afterpay, by James Eyers and Johnny Shaprio. The book will be released on the 3rd of August. I'm friends with one of the authors and read an advanced copy. It reads easy, like an extended cover story in the weekendTheAustralian Financial Review, the newspaper at which both authors ply their trade as finance and banking reporters. Two things strike me about the Afterpay story. First, Afterpay benefits from the much-vaunted network effect, but the other network that underpinned its success was the web of social ties between Sydney's business and financial elite who willed the business into being, funded it and, in 2018, propelled it into the US. Afterpay's is a very Sydney story. Second, it strikes me as vaguely depressing that Australia's most heralded startup success story of the past half decade should be a buy now, pay later app. The Great Stagnation, anyone?

4. 'Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority', Solomon Asch's 1956 summary of his classic social psychology experiments of the 1950s. Everyone should read about the Asch Conformity Experiment at least once in their life, preferably while young.

5. 'Four golden lessons', a one-pageNaturearticle by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, who unified electromagnetism and the weak force and died on the 23rd of July this year. Among his words of wisdom for young scientists: "The best antidote to the philosophy of science is a knowledge of the history of science."

Have a great weekend,