Colonial Silver Mining: Mexico and Peru by D.A. Brading and Harry E. Cross. I've been interested in the European empires that colonized much of the globe starting in the 15th century. One aspect I'm studying is the flow of specie (precious metals used for currency) and commodities from the various colonies. The Spanish Empire played a crucial role in bringing New World silver into the economy of Europe, which often ended up in Asia to purchase commodities that were they shipped back to Europe. This paper goes into the development of the American silver mining industry.
Time-Preference (and its Consequences) in Historical China
The fact was that, even though our empire was not a closed society, the vocational options it could offer were extremely limited. For families who wished to enjoy stability and respectability, there was little choice besides farming and officeholding. Usually the two were interconnected; success in one area led to success in the other. But it was most unlikely that both could be attained by a newcomer in his own lifetime. The common pattern was that a family persistently worked toward its common interest until the labor and self-denial of the fathers bore fruit in the time of their children, who benefited from clear titles to their land, sometimes from the liens they held over the properties of others, and above all from free time for education. Sacrifices on the part of mothers and wives were an integral part of the process. Thus, while sudden advances were possible at the time of the governmental examinations, the triumphs and satisfactions thus attained had in reality been shared, transmitted, and deferred. The motivation to succeed required individuals within the household to maintain a collective personality, so to speak. Corresponding to the emotional need, the imperial conferring of honorary titles upon meritorious officials as a rule covered three generations in retrospect and their wives, often posthumously. Li Chih's own life story shows traces of this general pattern, even though the early deaths of his sons and his own premature resignation prevented it from developing into a typical case.
The strong kinship bond could not logically stop at the limit of the conjugal family, since there was no reason why the common destiny that one shared with one's ancestors could not also be shared with one's uncles, brothers, nephews, and cousins. Besides, the benefits of mutual aid were reciprocal. One could never be certain when one's own children might need help from those relatives. The cult of ancestor-worship therefore had a strong rationale on its side. But along with its semireligious trappings and ethical values, the practice also became a relentless coercive force. The demands it made upon individuals were by no means limited to intermittent flashes of devotion to the common cause, nor were the obligations merely financial. In the main, it committed people to a definite pattern of life, characterized by the obsessive acquisition of land, the compulsive choice of official careers, the promotion of education for the sole purpose of perpetuating the system, and, in pursuing all these goals, the subjection of themselves to the pressures and expectations of the nearest kin, who felt justifed in inducing them to chart their course for the common good.
- This is the best resource I've found for learning Objective-C if you already know C++.
- Increased efficiency is primarily driven by incremental improvements, not large changes.
- Ignore the metagame...
- ... Unless you want to fully commit to exploiting it.
- Are programmers today worse than those of the past? No, but the systems they work on are much more complicated, and much of that complexity is driven by real improvements.
- Why aren't people better at aligning what they say they want to accomplish with what they actually do.
- Did you know that basically all graphics/painting applications mix colors incorrectly?
- Disney Research uses quite sophisticated methods for animating physical (i.e. in real life) characters using elastically deformable wires. And check out their in house wire bending machine!
- Tyler Cowen on culture and on context. Self-recommending!
- A clustering algorithm that looks interesting (and that I'd never heard of before) that is based in topology.
- Andy's reflections on what he learned in 2021 are interesting.
- A historical argument for why blockchains cannot remain outside the control of the state.
- Luttwak argues that China is not as formidable as it appears.
- On the CIA and wokeness.
- Lebron watches every NBA game on off days.
- Very interesting architectural style from Oman.
- Probably too technical if you don't know the basics of signal processing, but this is a good overview of synthetic aperture sonar.
- Why fusion power is still a long ways off.
- Apple gives one of the best overviews of how modern renderers work (uses their Metal API, but the concepts apply to any platform).