A First Step Towards Getting Rid of Universities

man in academic dress wearing mortar cap

Universities are a weird thing. The vast majority of things you learn are either completely irrelevant or quickly forgotten. This is of course not true for all subjects. But at least from personal experience I can say that most of what I learned in university is not relevant for my future career.

To a large extent, university is about holding a degree, not about the things you learned along the way. Someone who just graduated from college can expect a … more

In Support of Super-Rich Philanthropy

person showing both hands with make a change note and coins

The Guardian published an article titled “How philanthropy benefits the super-rich”. And parts of it are making really really angry. I have seen similar articles (they made me really really angry), and the Guardian article is one of the better ones (but still made me really really angry). The most important points it makes are:

  • Most donations go to institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, or to the Arts – not to poor people.
  • People who donate have too much power
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The Secular Religious State

woman sitting on brown concrete chair

I came across another interesting article about Iran (you may also like the one about how Iran is the only country in the world where you can legally sell your kidneys). The article argues that even though the state claims to be 99.9% Muslim, only around 40% actually identify as Muslims. The interesting thing about it is that these numbers seem to be actually lower than those before the Islamic Revolution in 1979:

68% agreed that religious prescriptions should

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Get Fit and do Good

men's black leggings

Back in June I made a bet with a friend, Franzi: she had to do 10 pull-ups by September 1st, I had to do 15. For every pull-up less than that target, we would have to donate 10€. For every pull-up more, the other one would have to donate 10€ .

That was a lot of pull-ups. Eventually we both hit our target, (she did 11, I did 17) so it’s time for a new bet. This time it’s 40 … more

Coal Produces More Radioactive Contamination Than Nuclear Energy

four brown concrete towers

The Scientific American has an interesting article: “Coal Ash Is More Radioactive Than Nuclear Waste“. Coal is known to kill thousands of people a year. Workers die in coal mines and many people die and get sick from air pollution. But few people are aware that coal produces a lot more radioactive contamination than even nuclear energy. Time to finally stop coal.

If you intend to switch your energy provider, also have a look at this article I … more

Calfiornia Firefighters and the US prison Industrial Complex

The US prison system (aka the “US prison industrial complex“) is clearly absurd. Not only does it have the highest incarceration rate of any country with a prison population of more than 2m people (see top ten list from Wikipedia below).

Prisons are often run for profit and prisoners routinely have to engage in forced labor (that some call modern slavery). If prisoners refuse to work they have to face disciplinary action (sometimes including solitary confinement (which … more

Getting Rich For Normal People

I love stock photo images. Is it a trader? Is it a DJ? who knows?

Discussions about the stock markets are ubiquitous. Right before the daily evening news on TV you often see successful looking people telling you “the Dax is now 20 points down” as if that were something immediately relevant to every citizen’s life. Only 6% of Germans directly own stocks. Who cares? Sure, a stock crisis is news. But the daily ups and downs? Why don’t they … more

The Environmental Impact of Food

Our World in Data has an article with a series of very interesting graphics about the environmental impact of food, such as this one:

The most important insight: It hardly matters where your food comes from. What matters is what you eat.

Transport is a small contributor to emissions. For most food products, it accounts for less than 10%, and it’s much smaller for the largest GHG emitters. In beef from beef herds, it’s 0.5%. […]

There are also

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Family Wealth, Traced Centuries Back

brown brick building near green trees during daytime

I recently stumbled across two studies that trace family fortunes over centuries by tracing their surnames. One posits that the same families that were rich in Venice in the 15th century are still rich today. The other one makes the same argument for England spanning the time from 1170 to 2012. This is remarkable. From the second study:

Using educational status in England from 1170 to 2012, we show that the rate of social mobility in any society can

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Using CRISPR to Create More Male Offspring

brown and white cattle on green grass field during daytime

Scientists in California have used CRISPR, a gene editing tool, to engineer the genome of a bull calf. The idea is this: the region on the Y chromosome that initiates male development (the sex determining region, SRY) is actually not that large. So the scientists just transferred it onto another chromosome. Offspring that inherit this altered chromosome should have a male phenotype regardless of whether they also have a Y chromosome. So instead of 50% males, this calf … more