What We’re Reading

California growth:

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Productivity:

The Japanese are fanatics for fresh foods. Any of you who have been to Japan, as my wife and I were in October, will remember what it says on Japanese containers. In the United States, when you go to the supermarket, there’s one date on the container, the date by which you’re supposed to throw away that bottle of milk. In Japan there are three dates on the container: there’s the date when the milk was manufactured, and there’s the date when the milk arrived at the supermarket, and then there’s the date when the milk should be thrown away, and these dates are in big letters; the Japanese really care about the dates. So the result is that milk production in Japan always starts at one minute past midnight, so that the milk that goes to market that morning is today’s milk. If milk had been produced at 11:59 p.m., the milk company would have to stamp on its container that this milk was made yesterday, and no Japanese person would buy it. The result is again that Japanese food-processing industries enjoy local monopolies. Obviously, a milk producer up in Hokkaido, northern Japan, is not going to be able to compete in Kyushu, in southern Japan, with a Kyushu producer, because of the several days in transit from Hokkaido. By the time a carton arrives in Kyushu, the people will read on the container that this milk is three days old, and no Japanese person would buy it.

Worldview:

Life:

We have a hard time recognizing this kind of progress is that it tends to be measured not in events but in nonevents: the smallpox infection that didn’t kill you at age 2; the accidental scrape that didn’t give you a lethal bacterial infection; the drinking water that didn’t poison you with cholera. In a sense, human beings have been increasingly protected by an invisible shield, one that has been built, piece by piece, over the last few centuries, keeping us ever safer and further from death. It protects us through countless interventions, big and small: the chlorine in our drinking water, the ring vaccinations that rid the world of smallpox, the data centers mapping new outbreaks all around the planet.

Success:

I’m successful because I don’t yearn for more. I have my wife and my boys and my freedom. I’m good. I have a unique appreciation of what I have because I already lost everything when my mother died. Now I have everything I need *and *everything I want.

Have a good weekend.


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