Jimmy on Learning
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Jimmy on Learning

This is an email from Jimmy on Articles, a newsletter by Jimmy on Learning.

I Was Wrong About Vikings, Infinity Maps, and My Growing Interest in China

Plus, the unintended consequences of banning abortion & what an “anti” mac might look like

The Articles

  1. Vikings were never the pure-bred master race white supremacists like to portray by Clare Downham — Found this article a referral from Eleanor Konik, who also writes fascinating cross discipline work. The article contrasts the historical reality of Vikings with media portrayals of Vikings. Looks like my beloved show, The Last Kingdom, was even more fiction than I believed.
  2. Creating Scalable Knowledge Spaces with Infinity Maps by Anne-Laure Le Cunff — I’m deep into the personal knowledge management (pkm for short) game. Ness Labs, the publisher, consistently puts out great stuff about the space. I tried out Infinity Maps after reading this article. Better in theory than in practice right now, but I’ve got my eye on it.
  3. abortion isn’t the only healthcare being denied to girls and women by Liz Plank — In the vast majority of cases, abortion is a medical decision made by trained doctors. The scary reality that Liz points out is that banning abortion influences more than just abortion. Across the country, women with chronic conditions like cancer and lupus are being denied care. Why? Doctor’s fear they could be prosecuted because the treatments affect fertility. There’s not many things we can agree on these days, but I hope we can all agree this is insane.
  4. 2017 Letter by Dan Wang — I’ve been binge reading Dan’s stuff for a couple of weeks now. Start here to discover someone with global awareness and Range style subject matter expertise.
  5. The Anti-Mac User Interface by Don Gentner and Jakob Nielsen — A fascinating inversion of Apple’s UI design principles with a fascinating twist: it was written 20 years ago. Read on for a mind bending mix of old and yet to come.
Photo by Victor B. on Unsplash

Jimmy’s 10 Cents

For the first time since I took my reading break, I’m mowing down content again. It’s more balanced and sustainable this time. The results speak for themselves. I’m more excited about this edition than any other in recent memory. My groove is coming back! I’m finding unusual, nuanced work once again.

What is most surprising so far is the rejuvenating impact on my writing. I felt a strange pressure in my chest (my signal it’s time to write) almost all week. Writing seemed to burst out, with threads on remote work and web browsers. The web browsers thread turned into an article and the remote work thread will turn into a sequel for the micro office.

China

Outside of writing, China continues to gain momentum in my mind. My interest in China kicked off while reading The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us and deepened while reading Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Dan Wang’s piece, 2017, got me thinking about the country again. While pondering Ray Dalio’s Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail, I’ve been looking for a country in a good financial position. Reading the financial times yesterday woke me up to the reality that there’s only 1 I know of: China. Their inflation is at a measly 2.5% and unlike every other country I know of, their coffers are bursting. If they aren’t on pace to reach their 5.5% GDP growth rate for the year, they can stimulate the economy via their central bank to do so.

What does China’s strong economic position mean? I’m not sure. Scott Galloway wrote convincingly about their increased influence in the US thanks to TikTok. What will they do with that influence? Scott argues they’ve already done it, working to embed pessimism deep into American bones. Alongside their influence via TikTok, Erich Shwartzel argues they’ve been working far longer on influence via Hollywood in Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy.

It is clear that China is in strong and strengthening positions in terms of economics and culture. I’m uncertain when (or I suppose if) China will translate these positions into more aggressive military action. It’s possible they won’t. One of my favorite parts of Dan Wang’s article is his evisceration of the West’s understanding of China.

Xi Jinping’s, “To Firmly Drive Common Prosperity” sheds light on China from a first person perspective I sorely lack. Reading that, I think it’s certainly possible that China might act differently than I might expect on the global stage. What if the focus will be stability rather than conquest? It’s an optimistic view, but I’m not convinced it’s wrong.

Abortion

As I’m thinking about how to handle the reversal of Roe v. Wade, I’m increasingly convinced that there are slivers of common ground to build consensus upon. The problem? Most people are unaware of them. I did not know about missed miscarriages nor did I know just how dangerous pregnancy in the US is. As I’m coming to the facts much too late, I’m shocked at the partisan and political nature of the discussion. The more I dig in, the more I’m surprised. First, it’s surprising to see this issue come up at a time where abortions are down more than 50% from their peak in the 1990’s. Second, it’s odd to see total bans on abortion when there is consensus that at the least, abortion in the first trimester should be allowed. What’s even weirder? 92% of abortions occur in the first trimester. We agree on a lot more than we think here, both in thought and deed.

Graph from the Pew Research Center

Beyond considering the incongruence of the ruling with the will of the people, the sloppy implementation of the laws post Roe v. Wade is concerning. Already we are seeing folks denied critical medications because doctor’s fear legal repercussions. There is alarming research that banning abortion will hit low income households especially hard. It’s clear that the legislation here is not keeping up with reality on the ground. In many states, laws from the early 1900’s, which were bad in case we needed reminding, are all that’s left. We are literally going back in time.

Yet as Plank points out, there is hope, “the support for abortion rights has increased significantly over the last year alone.” I’m hopeful that the reaction to bans on abortion will be similar to the reaction to the Prohibition. Swift denouncement once the new reality sets back in.

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Jimmy Cerone

Jimmy Cerone

I dig up the interesting stuff so you don’t have to