January 2017 Media Thread

This is the monthly thread for posting media of various types that you've found that you enjoy. Post what you're reading, listening to, watching, and your opinion of it. Post recommendations to blogs. Post whatever media you feel like discussing! To see previous recommendations, check out the older threads.


  • Please avoid downvoting recommendations just because you don't personally like the recommended material; remember that liking is a two-place word. If you can point out a specific flaw in a person's recommendation, consider posting a comment to that effect.
  • If you want to post something that (you know) has been recommended before, but have another recommendation to add, please link to the original, so that the reader has both recommendations.
  • Please post only under one of the already created subthreads, and never directly under the parent media thread.
  • Use the "Other Media" thread if you believe the piece of media you want to discuss doesn't fit under any of the established categories.
  • Use the "Meta" thread if you want to discuss about the monthly media thread itself (e.g. to propose adding/removing/splitting/merging subthreads, or to discuss the type of content properly belonging to each subthread) or for any other question or issue you may have about the thread or the rules.
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The Best of Charlie Munger - A great collection of articles and transcripts from Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Seems particularly relevant to Less Wrong as an example of an individual using applied rationality and an interest in cognitive biases (even before they had a name) in the pursuit of systematized winning.

"Poor Charlie's Almanack" (book) is very good too. More from Charlie M.

rTMS: An Update on Recent Progress in Toronto

"Dr. Jonathan Downar presents an update on recent progress in using rTMS to treat depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, and eating disorders at the Toronto Western Hospital site of UHN. New techniques allow significantly faster, less costly, and more effective treatment for a much larger volume of patients."


Evicted, by Mathew Desmond, is an amazing work of ethnographic research into the lives of the urban poor and in particular their experiences with housing. Most importantly to me it feels real: nothing is sugarcoated. The poor people are incredibly irresponsible, but also the landlords are greedy, and the government agencies are incompetent and counterproductive. One typical event sequence goes something like this: a tenant living in a decrepit unit calls the building inspector to report some egregious violation. The inspector arrives and promptly demands that the landlord make a list of expensive repairs. The landlord retaliates by evicting the tenant because of her heroin habit.

I love the BBC's Ruth Goodman series because they answer questions about historical daily life that I never even thought to ask. For example, in Victorian and Edwardian times, a common way to clean a chimney was to climb to the roof and throw a chicken down it. As it flapped and scratched on its way down it would knock down all the debris and buildup. If you want to know the start-to-finish process of how to build a lime-ash floor, or a pig sty, or the details of how things were cleaned, cooked, gathered, farmed, or used, these shows will have it.

ETA- These are also probably pretty interesting if you are into survivalism

Links go to the first episodes of the series on YouTube, where they are all available.

Secrets of the Castle- Guedelon Castle is a current 20 year project in France where they are building a 13th century castle, using 13th century techniques. They show the entire process of building the castle. One thing I found interesting is that castles would have been limewashed, rather than left as the bare rock we see today. And one interior decoration was to paint the limewash as if it were exposed marble. So you cover up the rock to paint it to look like a more expensive rock. The human-powered hamster wheel that they would use to raise the stones up is also pretty nifty. This is a good one if you're interested in historic technology

Wartime Farm- Before the second World War, British farming was on a decline since 60% of their food was imported, but at the start of the war Germany started blockading British vessels. British farms had to double their production at a time when young men were gone, leaving women to do heavy labor. To do this, they had to completely switch focus from raising livestock (which were culled) to growing cereal crops. Manufacturing was focused on war goods so farming equipment had to be jerry rigged from scrap metal. Already crowded farms had to find ways to host the women and children that had been evacuated from cities. If your farm wasn't productive enough, it would get taken away from you

(I don't feel like typing much more but don't take that as evidence that the ones below are less interesting)

Tudor Monastery Farm- This is one of my favorites. Ruth and company live as tenant farmers, leasing their land from the monastery. One thing I enjoy about this series is how different their various holiday celebrations are from modern ones.

Victorian Farm- 1880s

Edwardian Farm- This one takes place on a Devon port, so there's also information about life by the sea (fishing, gathering algae and shrimp, boating, etc)

Victorian Pharmacy- How people attempted to cure common ailments in the 19th C. I haven't watched it yet, but I hear it's wonderful

Full Steam Ahead- About engineering and building the railway system, and how that changed daily life in the early 19th century. I haven't watched this one yet but it seems really good. TRAINS!

Tales from the Green Valley- This was an early series, and not as well done. I don't recommend this one unless you've already watched all the others and want more. It's a 1620's/ Stuart era farm

The Forecaster

The Story of martin armstrong

Can a computer model predict the world economy?

"MARTIN ARMSTRONG, once a US based trillion dollar financial advisor, developed a computer model based on the number pi and other cyclical theories to predict economic turning points with eerie accuracy. In the early 80s he established his financial forecasting and advising company Princeton Economics. His forecasts were in great demand worldwide. As Armstrong's recognition grew, prominent New York bankers invited him to join "The Club" to aid them in market manipulation. Martin repeatedly refused. Later that same year (1999) the FBI stormed his offices, confiscating his computer model and accusing him of a 3 billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Was it an attempt to silence him and prevent him from initiating a public discourse on the real Ponzi scheme of debts that the world has been building up for decades? Armstrong predicts that a sovereign debt crisis will start to unfold on a global level after October 1, 2015 - a major pi turning point that his computer model forecasted many years ago."


looks like we are going to need that VR thread, Ycombinator just posted they are going all in, and this

Three Unexpectedly Good Things VR Will Probably Cause

And of the experiences currently available for the Vive, almost all the most popular ones require considerable physical exertion and, yes, vigorous arm movements. Of approximately 25k Vive users at the moment:

  • 10k of them play Hover Junkers
  • 13k play Space Pirate Trainer (ducking, weaving, shooting)
  • 8k play Holopoint.
  • 5k play Vanishing Realms (RPG featuring vigorous arm motions and rapid dodging).


"According to Capcom's official stat tracker on ResidentEvil.net, 9.6 percent of all players worldwide have used VR to play the game. It's extra impressive considering VR support is only available on PS4, just one of RE7's three supported platforms. "


"I found my first gamechanging VR application in a strange place:

A graphing calculator. Meet Calcflow.

It’s a tool that allows you to use your brain’s incredible capacity for interpreting 3D spatial objects to help you learn mathematical concepts. It takes an idea or a formula and makes it into an object, rich with depth and complexity. And then it allows you to see how different variations in mathematical concepts affect this wonderful bizzaro world."