How Far We've Come

+ The value of throwing soup, the whitest white and a moment of magic in a text editor (#414)

I'm writing you from holiday, so I'm keeping this intro short. In fact, so short that it ends right here.

1. 9 astonishing ways that living standards have improved around the world

Past progress doesn't guarantee continued progress, let alone progress without setbacks. However, looking back at the progress humanity has achieved over the past two centuries should inspire us, especially when times feel darker than usual. I'm fairly sure most of you will learn new things in this overview, and be astonished. Then pause for a moment and try to imagine what might be possible in the next 50 years, 100 years, 200 years.

9 astonishing ways that living standards have improved around the world
Despite the constant stream of bad news we see in the media, the reality is that living standards have improved dramatically across time.

2. What’s everyone got against throwing soup?

I'll be honest, my first reaction was: Well, that's not gonna help 🙄. And judging by most of the coverage on two climate activists throwing soup at a Van Gogh painting, that has been a common first reaction. My second reaction, though, was: Hm, how sure am I about this? This article is one of very few that took the time to go deeper and look at actual evidence. Turns out: «Despite many people claiming that disruptive or radical protests have negative impacts on a movement’s likelihood of winning, the evidence suggests the opposite is true: Nonviolent radical tactics are likely to increase support for more moderate groups, in ways that increase an overall movement’s chance of achieving their aims.» Apparently, it's called the radical flank effect.

What’s everyone got against throwing soup?
Let’s actually look at the evidence base behind radical tactics

3. ​​Zan, Zindagi, Azadi. For Women, For Life And For Liberty.

Emphatic and empathetic 5-minute commentary on the uprising in Iran.

Velshi: Zan, Zindagi, Azadi. For Women, For Life And For Liberty.
“Zan, Zindagi, Azadi” translates to “women, life & liberty”. Those three beautiful words are ringing out in the streets across Iran. They form a protest chan...

4. Ark Head

Overall, I think this essay is too pessimistic (see recommendation 1 and the quote at the very end of the newsletter). Still, these quotes hit home:

  • We increasingly respond practically to the world without even attempting to make sense of it.
  • We’ve given up on the prospect of actually solving or managing most of the snowballing global problems and crises we’re hurtling towards
  • We’ve accepted that some large fraction of those problems will go unsolved and unmanaged, and result in a drastic but unevenly distributed reduction in quality of life for most of humanity over the next few decades
Ark Head
This week is probably the closest we’ve ever gotten in my lifetime to the brink of nuclear-powered World War 3, yet people seem strangely indifferent to the developments. I share in this unde…

5. World’s whitest paint is now thin enough for cars, planes

You've probably heard of the world's blackest black. So far, it has gotten excited mostly artists and designers. This week, I learned that there's a race for the whitest white as well. It doesn't look as cool as the blackest black, but its effect is cooler, or, well, cooling.

World’s whitest paint is now thin enough for cars, planes
A new, thinner version of the world’s whitest paint could slash the need for climate-harming air conditioning in cars, airplanes, and more.

What else?

Thanks for reading. I wish you a nice weekend and hope to see you again next Friday!

— David 👋