Against the Rules Presents: Cautionary Tales
25 min

Listen to the first episode of the new Cautionary Tales mini-season where host Tim Harford asks: Why did audience members fail to flee a deadly fire... despite being told to escape?

Flames are spreading through a Cincinnati hotel. The staff know it, the fire department is coming, and the people in the packed cabaret bar have been told to evacuate… and yet they hesitate to leave. Why don’t we react to some warnings until it’s too late?

Read more about Tim's work at http://timharford.com/

Tim's latest books 'Fifty Inventions That Shaped The Modern Economy' and 'The Next Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy' are available now.

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The Pulse
The Pulse
WHYY
The Puzzle of Personality
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Open to new experiences, or comforted by routine? Shy or the life of the party? Figuring out what makes us tick is an important part of understanding how we function within our families, communities, and workplaces. Thousands of tests online promise to assess your personality — but what are they actually measuring? Where does personality come from, how does it form, and where does it live? On this episode, we explore the science behind how we become who we are. We hear stories about what makes for a healthy personality, how our brains betray who we are, and why we change depending on who we’re with. Also heard on this week’s episode: * Reporter Jad Sleiman explores how advances in brain imaging are bolstering the science behind personality research — including the famous “Big Five” personality test. Neuroscientists Colin DeYoung and Emily Finn talk test scores and brain mapping. * Countless self-help books promise to turn us into the kind of people we want to be. But what exactly is a healthy personality — and is it even possible to change? To find out, Alan Yu talks with Kristen Meinzer about what she’s learned from years of living by self-help books, along with psychologists Wiebke Bleidorn, Rodica Damian, and Brent Roberts about what science has to say about personality change. * Science historian Jonny Bunning discusses how humans have thought about personality across the ages, and how we’ve tried to measure it. We also explore how much of our personality comes from within, and how much is shaped by outside influences. * Science journalist Olga Khazan from The Atlantic talks about her new book “Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World.”
49 min
The Strong Towns Podcast
The Strong Towns Podcast
Strong Towns
Just Print the Money
Back in August, New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) warned of a “doomsday” scenario—including fare hikes and service cuts—if the federal government didn’t come through with $12 billion in aid. Writing about the MTA crisis, Strong Towns founder and president Chuck Marohn said that, if he ran the money printing press, the transit agency would get the money. But he also talked about how preposterous it is that it should ever have gotten to this point. New York City has the most valuable real estate in the nation. Why is the fate of the city, and indeed the whole New York region, being left for non-New Yorkers to decide? How could New Yorkers have let this happen? In today’s episode of the Strong Towns podcast, Chuck approaches New York’s financial woes—as well as other crises (insolvent pension funds, student loan debts, crumbling infrastructure, and more)—from a different angle. He discusses why the changes that need to be made to fix our cities won’t come about in a culture whose solution is “Just print the money.” He also talks about how money has increasingly become an abstraction, the two elements—liquidity and narrative—needed to prop up a system of a financial abstractions, and what happens when even one of those elements falters. For example, what happens when an increasingly polarized country can’t agree on a narrative to justify printing money to solve problems like the MTA crisis, student loans, etc.? How do we say “Just print the money” to pay the bills coming due for the decades-long suburban experiment, when we can’t agree on competing versions of history, morality, and the place of the United States in the world? Chuck ends with a deceptively simple suggestion for how to push back against encroaching abstraction...and begin building stronger towns in the process. Additional Shownotes: * Charles Marohn (Twitter) * “New York transit is facing ‘Doomsday’ cuts. Should non-New Yorkers bail it out?” by Charles Marohn * “Pandemic Fallout: Will New York City Experience Long-term Decline?” (Podcast) * Check out other recent episodes of the Strong Towns podcast, as well as Upzoned and The Bottom-Up Revolution.
1 hr 2 min
Upzoned
Upzoned
Strong Towns
Will Wyoming Have to Start "Abandoning" Its Small Towns?
A key figure in the mythology of the American West is that of the rugged individualist, the impressively self-reliant person, rarely needing help from anyone, least of all the federal government. The self-reliant ethos is a powerful one, not just at the level of the individual but at the level of the city. Yet the reality is that most towns and cities in the American West are reliant to a remarkable degree on state and federal governments, as well as on a few large (often extractive) global industries: coal, oil, natural gas, etc. What happens when demand for those resources drops? What happens when the state or federal government runs out of money? Wyoming is finding out. In an op-ed last month in the Casper Star-Tribune, Nate Martin, the executive director of Better Wyoming, wrote: “Faced with COVID-19 and the collapse of Wyoming’s coal industry, Republican Gov. Mark Gordon said recently that the state might have to start abandoning small towns because there’s not enough money to maintain their sewers and streets.” Wyoming has no income tax and some of the lowest property and sales taxes in the country. Martin makes the case that, to help cover its projected two-year, $1.5 billion budget shortfall, the state should increase tax revenue — perhaps by instituting an income tax or raising its other taxes. This week on Upzoned, host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, and regular cohost Chuck Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, discuss Martin’s op-ed and the situation in Wyoming...and, really, throughout the West. Abby and Chuck talk about why saying Wyoming has a revenue problem doesn’t go deep enough in diagnosing the underlying issues there. They talk about the ways in which the extractive economies of many Western states are mimicked in extractive development patterns. They also discuss how towns and cities in Wyoming can begin to build local economies strong enough to weather the hard times. (Hint: It starts not with minerals in the ground, but with the people.) Then in the Downzone, Chuck recommends the book 1493, by Charles C. Mann, and talks about finally signing up for Netflix. And Abby recommends a show on Netflix that Chuck can now watch, The Queen’s Gambit. Additional Show Notes * “Martin: Wyoming needs to bite the bullet,” by Nate Martin * "Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Faces Massive Budget Hole As COVID-19 Cases Rise," by Peter O'Dowd * “Just Print the Money” (Podcast) * Abby Kinney (Twitter) * Charles Marohn (Twitter) * Gould Evans Studio for City Design * Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud) * Additional content from Strong Towns on small towns and rural economies: * “A Plan for Building Strong Rural Communities,” by Charles Marohn * “Small Towns Are Dying. Can They Be Saved?” (Podcast) * “We’re in the Endgame Now for Small Towns,” by Charles Marohn * “What happens when an entire region of rural communities buys into the same bad approach to development?” by John Pattison * “Local Leaders Are Reshaping America One Small Town at a Time,” by Quint Studer
35 min
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