What We’re Reading

Nostalgia:

But when exactly were the good old days? Podcaster Jason Feifer once devoted an episode of “Pessimists’ Archive” to this question. If you want to make America great again, he thought, you have to ask yourself when America was great. The most popular answer seemed to be the 1950s, so Mr. Feifer asked historians whether Americans in that decade thought it was particularly pleasant. Definitely not, they said. In the 1950s, American sociologists worried that rampant individualism was tearing the family apart. There were serious racial and class tensions, and everyone lived under the very real threat of instant nuclear annihilation.

Vaccines:

The Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend. It was completed before China had even acknowledged that the disease could be transmitted from human to human, more than a week before the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States. By the time the first American death was announced a month later, the vaccine had already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health for the beginning of its Phase I clinical trial. This is — as the country and the world are rightly celebrating — the fastest timeline of development in the history of vaccines. It also means that for the entire span of the pandemic in this country, which has already killed more than 250,000 Americans, we had the tools we needed to prevent it .

Amazon:

The rumors that I hear, both internal and external, are that we’re very seriously interested in acquiring post office real estate. The reason why the post office is valuable to privatize is because of their real estate holdings. They have great real estate in every downtown of every city in the United States. Amazon may be interested in buying all of the post office locations, and we have the cash to do it. So why not?

Business travel:

Business travel is coming back for the same reason that suits always come back.

Suits are cyclical. Almost all offices go casual late in the cycle. Then the economy rolls over and a few months into the recession, someone shows up at the office wearing a suit because they are worried about their job. The next day everyone is wearing a suit.

Stagnation:

I would say that almost certainly the great stagnation is over in the biomedical sciences. It is less obvious that the great stagnation is over more generally, as we might simply retreat into our former sloth and complacency once we are mostly vaccinated.

Have a good weekend, be safe.


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