We live in an age of mad kings

“Let’s talk about something other than women driving. The NEOM project, the futuristic city that he (the crown prince) plans to invest half a trillion dollars in. What if it goes wrong? It could bankrupt the country.”
 Jamal Khashoggi, June 2017

 We've talked over the years about the damage done by futuristic bullshit, how it dumbs down the conversation, takes oxygen away from real innovation, forms the basis of bubbles and Ponzi schemes. These are not trivial things, but the stakes get much higher when a head of state buys into the bullshit, particularly if he happens to be a murderous sociopath.

From Scott Alexander:

You really want to watch this video. I had read a few other articles on Neom, thought I understood what level of craziness we were talking about here - but no, this is much, much crazier. I didn’t understand the full scale until they gave their proposed dimensions: a structure 500 meters tall, 200 meters wide, and (wait for it) 170 km long.

500 meters is about the height of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the US. 170 km is about the east-west length of the Republic of Ireland. So the Saudis are going to build something . . . as tall as the World Trade Center . . . and . . . as long as . . . Ireland? That’s their plan? Yes, says the video, that is their plan.

Is this just some crazy attempt to build (Read more...)