Map of Indian poverty, raw data on page 136.

For how important poverty/wealth in those states are, you can look at

That data was drawn from Wikipedia, while the population map distortion was done with this program, which I suspect I will use myself one of these days. Comparing the two isn’t trivial, but you can certainly see that, for example, it’s pretty important that Bihar is poor and Kerala is not. OK, so I checked the List of Indian State and Union Territories by GDP per Capita just in case my assumptions were wrong, and wow they were. Kerala has a multidimensional poverty index a fifth that of Goa’s while Goa has twice the per capita GDP of Kerala. Goa on a PPP adjusted basis is still substantially poorer than the poorest American state, but it’s richer than Greece while Kerala is closer to pre-invasion Ukraine. Something interesting is going on. The answer seems to be “functional communism”? Unfortunately, limited time and many things to do.


In 2022, Canada acquired a border with a second country. This came out of reading the surprisingly interesting Talk Page for the Wikipedia article on 2022. I was pinged because I’d made a small edit, but it’s fun to read Jim Michaels 2 argue for deleting almost everything, while other people try to defend smalltime filmmakers for inclusion. Normally I’m very strongly anti-deletionist, but when it comes to content on a year page I’m more sympathetic.

The edit that got me dragged in was changing a disambiguation link to correctly point towards the January 2022 coup d'état in Burkina Faso, as opposed to the 2022 coup: in January “the 2022 coup” was sufficient but by September there had been a second. You know you’re having problems when Russia calls for a return to a framework with “legitimacy”.

I do recommend reading Wikipedia pages for a year to get a sense of what is happening. It’s not the only thing, but if you want to be “well-rounded” in some sense, it’s a better starting point than most alternatives. If you don’t understand something, click the link, and read the first paragraph.

On the topic of Wikipedia, the two largest cities in New England (excluding the parts of New York that extend over Connecticut) are Caribou and Ellsworth Maine! This is because the largest cities by land area in America are *not* in New England.


Something that can happen when you get too into political theory is that you lose track of the obvious. Yes, moral authority was used in pre-modern Europe as a political tool!

Sometimes the point needs to be made that the US military does many things that you and I are unaware of. Some of that is because the right hand doesn't always know what the left is doing, but more often it's because there is effective operational security and secret operations. Now everyone involved is willing to be open that, prior to the invasion, the US military had a team of 40 hunting Russian cyber-infiltration. I knew nothing of this. You probably knew nothing of this. It's public solely because it is now good PR for Ukraine and America alike, but this sort of operation can be very touchy for politicians, who have their pride and belief in sovereignty. How many operations don't we know about?

The National Defense Strategy 2022 is out! Read it alongside the unclassified summary of the 2018 Strategy to see the changes.

The obvious change is predictable: Russia has been downgraded.


The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions


The PRC remains our most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades.

The 2022 NDS lays out our vision for focusing the Defense Department around our pacing challenge [China], even as we manage the other threats [Russia, North Korea, Iran, “violent extremist organizations” AKA terrorists, climate change, and pandemics, in that order] of our swiftly changing world.

Other 2022 highlights

Conflict with the PRC is neither inevitable nor desirable.

A wide range of new or fast-evolving technologies and applications are complicating escalation dynamics and creating new challenges for strategic stability. These include counterspace weapons, hypersonic weapons, advanced CBW, and new and emerging payload and delivery systems for both conventional and non-strategic nuclear weapons. [Notice what isn’t in that list.]

Our current system is too slow … will instead reward rapid experimentation, acquisition, and fielding [This has been said for decades, and I expect to see similar statements indefinitely]

We will fuel research and development for advanced capabilities, including in directed energy, hypersonics, integrated sensing, and cyber. We will seed opportunities in biotechnology, quantum science, advanced materials, and clean-energy technology. We will be a fast-follower where market forces are driving commercialization of militarily-relevant capabilities in trusted artificial intelligence and autonomy, integrated network system-of-systems, microelectronics, space, renewable energy generation and storage, and human-machine interfaces

So, uh, there has also been Russian propaganda saying that the government of Estonia is infested with neo-Nazis. Just in case you were feeling optimistic about peace. On the bright side for Estonia, they’re considering building a nuclear power plant!


It’s a very standard urbanist talking point that Americans buy cars that are hideously expensive, and those child-killer trucks (if you can’t see a small child five feet in front of your car, you’re much more likely to kill them because of your desire to loom over everyone else) are expensive. But I am a fool who hadn’t let it properly sink in how expensive. One seventh of all Americans buying a new car with an auto loan will commit to paying $1,000/month on that loan. The average amount lent for a new car is $40,000, with a payment of over $700: if that was just the principle, loans would take four years to pay off. But less than 10% of auto loans have terms for 48 months or less: it’s a fairly tight grouping, with the mean loan length at origination (so, not counting changes that happen at the debtor’s request) between five and six years.

Now, it’s possible that people are rationally taking auto loans: APR for new cars that were financed averages 5.7%, long-run stock market returns are typically estimated to be in the 5-7% range (Vanguard, Bogleheads wiki), and there may be above-market returns available to individuals1. My parents taught me to never buy a car with a loan, and the observation that a large fraction of dealer profit margin seems to come from financing has reinforced that, but it’s possible, and I try not to say that people are making bad choices without a lot more evidence than I’ve garnered. They're certainly well-equipped to pay back those loans: default rates in the first four years are under 1%, and there's no reason I'd expect consumers to be more likely to default on loans just when there's the least to pay off.

The increase in loan prices is driven by two simultaneous factors, at least I assume. One is that cars are just more expensive!

A 20% increase over two years is going to increase the fraction of loans that charge $1,000 a month or more. The other, as we’ve all noticed, is that interest rates have spiked.


Sometimes a single table can be surprisingly revealing. For instance, the commissioners of the CFTC are supposed to serve staggered five-year terms.

The Onion has a beautiful piece of writing on the legal form and parody, that is also a legally persuasive amicus curiae.

I try to avoid linking Twitter threads, but this one is all recommendations on the history and transmission of governance structures: thrilling stuff.

Tracing Woodgrains has a series on the benefits of enlisting in the US military for a young leftist cynic.

The biological evidence on whether SARS-CoV-2 was a lab escape keeps being confusing and hard to parse, and the political evidence keeps being “everything is absolutely consistent with a deliberate coverup starting from the earliest days, including, now, some things from November 2019.” Now, an obvious reason to do a coverup is that you don’t know the results (and don’t want to roll the dice). Similarly, you don’t want to only make the obvious signs of a coverup when you’re actually guilty.

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P.S. I’m experimenting this month with somewhat longer-form content, diving a little into an area as opposed to dropping a link and moving on. Please tell me what you think!


There are almost never above-market returns available on the open market to non-specialists, but there are plenty of ways to spend money that are straightforwardly better than stock market investing.

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