What's your favorite topic?

HotelMotel's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 100

I'm sure this has been covered in some way or another on WSO, but I'm interested to ask this more directly in a specific post. Essentially, what is a topic that you are passionate about and could 'give an hour long speech' on? As a young person in their 20s, I am trying to develop myself in a more well-rounded way, and would love to hear some of your interests.

So for your answer, if you could provide the topic(s), why it interests you, and include your favorite book(s) related to the topic, if you have one.

Philosophy, Ancient Politics, American History, tracking/hunting. Literally anything. For me personally, I am very fascinated by astronomy and it has been a favorite topic of mine since taking a course on it in college.

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Comments (46)

Most Helpful
Feb 18, 2019

Foreign Affairs and Power Politics. I always enjoyed the gamesmanship of statesman negotiating deals that could change the fate of nations. The core of my enthusiasm is the understanding of nuances involving a delicious mix of self-interest, ego and irrational desire that make a logical solution impossible to obtain. If you read the history of the Thirty Year War and get to know the characters involved, the amount of ego and pettiness never cease to amuse me.

Can't talk about such things to girls though, so I equipped myself with encyclopedic knowledge of luxury jewelry brands and restaurants

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Feb 19, 2019

I enjoy that a lot too. My old roommate and I would get drunk and discuss political movements in Eastern Europe and Southern Asia for fun all the time.

Feb 22, 2019

that sounds like such a fun thing to do when you're drunk

Don't beat yourself up on this, Eric. Some people like taking the long way home. Who the fuck knows?

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Mar 8, 2019

You should hang out with different girls.

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Mar 8, 2019

My god you are just my new favorite person. My father was a diplomat so while I was growing up this is all we would talk about. I remember him giving me lessons on geopolitics of subsaharan africa back in 2002 when I was 6 years old. Sometimes I take a 70mg vyvanse/30mg adderall XR and just hop on wikipedia and read history for literal hours lol. My favorite is honestly egyptian and arab history due to family background, and also indian history during the time of the british raj.

I also agree with brotherbear...find different girls my man. I live in the greater DC area and there are no shortage of girls here who like talking about the same stuff.

Ty

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Feb 18, 2019

My grandpa worked in the Southern Vietnamese government before the communist took over. The leader was essentially a puppet for the US, but he did not believe so. He told us stories about how president Thieu had grand vision for Vietnam after defeating the communists, which never happened. He ended up having to leave Vietnam after Henry Kissinger cut a deal with communist to end the war, many people on the inside said he wouldn't go outside and spent the last days of his presidency crying in his chamber. That goes to show that these American-backed dictators actually believed that they were actually placed there to lead, and not just puppets.

I spend my childhood listening to stories from government insiders from the 60s to late 80s. Knowing how these people really behaved outside of their public lives is the most hilarious shit.

As for girls, I live in LA, which is essentially an intellectual graveyard outside of the Finance/Law circle. Too much effort for my line of work anyway (RE analyst/part-time derivative trader). I guess my love life will end up like Icahn.

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Feb 20, 2019

The importance of the 2nd Amendment. For the literary source, the Constitution of the United States of America (1787).

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Mar 10, 2019

weird

Feb 20, 2019

Deindustrialization in the Northeast and Midwest United States. I could go on forever about the former strength of the steel industry in which my family used to work. I have so much old merch from Bethlehem Steel Co. and was raised to understand the legacy that the company left behind, and how much it hurt when they imploded. I could talk about the importance of unions and completely 180 and talk about how the Steel Strike of '59, which United Steelworkers still defends, left the door open for foreign producers to take massive bites out of our industry and was the beginning of the end. It's all interesting to me. As a kid, I always listened to me relatives talk about how times used to be so much better, and their constant complaining actually made me quite interested in what actually happened.

Also a massive fan of those animated history youtube channels (Extra History, Real Life Lore, Simple History, etc). History is super interesting (duh).

Dayman?

Feb 19, 2019

That's actually a really intriguing topic. What do you think about the growth in manufacturing and more industrial jobs in the South? Places like Greenville, SC are really growing.

Feb 20, 2019

Yeah the south is exploding. The Carolina's especially have to be some of the fastest growing states. I think the rise in manufacturing there was really signaled a long time ago, as the major population centers shifted away from the Northeast/Midwest as methods of transportation improved. I definitely see the south continuing to grow both in terms of population and jobs in the manufacturing sector. Even within the steel sector, you see the once great manufacturing centers of PA and OH laid mostly idle, but companies like Nucor and USS are investing quite a lot in their southern facilities (NC, SC, Texas, Alabama, etc), such as Fairfield being restarted with electric arc furnaces in the coming year or so. Maybe it's more accessible labor, the shitty weather, cost of living, or whatever, but I read a report that even my home state of MA, considered to be a center of various industries and a state that really rebounded from relative economic stagnation, is seeing more people move out than move in (a better metric than population growth imo). And those people are heading south.

Dayman?

Mar 9, 2019

My father-in-law was a Bethlehem/ISG/Mittal guy for many years... I don't know much about the history but definitely a fascinating topic to me, how the towns depend on the mills, etc.

Feb 20, 2019

Business cycle theory. Spent a few years where I was obsessed with it. Could go into detail about the various frameworks (Malthus, Ricardo, Marx, Keynes, Wicksell, Hayek, Friedman Minsky, etc), their origins, key premises, key similarities and differences, etc.

Unfortunately, very few people understand any of these frameworks in a non-superficial way and none of them are predictive in that you can't form investable strategies from them.

Marx and Malthus, for example, don't really predict cycles. They predict disaster. The catalyst in Keynes, Friedman and Minsky's theories are exogenous (psychological and/or preference based). The Austrian's speak of rising rates, but the crisis doesn't occur until and unless the 'market rate of interest' (here they mean the market risk free rate) realigns with the 'natural rate of interest' so that there's 'inter-temporal equilibrium.' Only one of the variables are observable and even then, there isn't a single "market rate of interest."

The stuff gets complicated as the schools vary in methodology, monetary theory, capital theory, etc., but again, it's not useful to know.

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Feb 20, 2019

@Esuric - what are some good starter articles or books to learn more about it in-depth?

Feb 20, 2019

My favorite introduction is Hayek's "Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle." It's explained in very simpe terms and makes references to prior (i.e., Wicksell) and to competing frameworks.

You can also start with Wicksell's "Interest and Prices." Both Hayek/Mises and Keynes operate from essentially the Wicksellian framework. Keynes' "liquidity trap" is effectively the "Wicksellian rot."

Roger Garrison, though part of the "Austrian" framework, also provides in-detail comparison between the various frameworks. Probably not the best place to start but it does tie things together.

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Mar 8, 2019

I took an "history of economic theory" class in undergrad that wen't over a lot of the things you just mentioned. I've always found the interaction between geopolitics and economics interesting, though sometimes I feel like I don't have the math background to understand some economic theories/concepts fluently

Anyways good shit brother, I love guys who really dive down intellectually.

Ty

Mar 10, 2019

I get the sense that economists don't really engage with these guys any more. Seems business cycles have become increasingly the domain of monetarists and financial guys e.g. Fama, Schiller, but also heavily driven by econometricians.

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Funniest
Feb 20, 2019

Trashing women/anti-feminism

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Feb 20, 2019

China (history, economy, politics, business), East Asian Developmental Model

Feb 19, 2019

Did you read Kissinger's book on China? I was going to start it soon.

Feb 20, 2019

Yes, have read "On China" it's definitely worth a read for the first hand perspective as compared to many of these publications being purely academic in origin.

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Feb 20, 2019

I've spent entire weekends combing through Wikipedia links reading about WWII. It's got so many compelling narratives and major events; you could easily go back and forth between Resistance movements, The A- Bomb, The Battle of Britain, The Eastern Front, Normandy, The Holocaust, The Rape of Nanking, Operation Anthropoid, and so on.

I consume every bit of media or literature I can get my hands on.

Mar 8, 2019

Consider myself well educated and had never heard of the Nanking Massacre, just read up on it. Amazing how many genocide-esque events happen and are quiet literally never talked about

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Feb 20, 2019

You wouldn't have because Post WWII the Nazis were the villains du jour while Gen. MacArthur furiously cleaned up Japan's and it's emperor's images. But yeah, in many ways the Japanese Imperial Army was just as bad as the Nazis.

MacArtuhur squashed many investigations and war crimes trials (giving immunity to all senior leaders and sacrificing patsies) and attributed any war atrocities to a rogue group of extremist senior officers. He didn't want the administrative headaches that would have delayed the rebuilding effort or impacted his efforts to turn Japan into a puppet state.

Feb 21, 2019

Not sure if you've ever dabbled with music, but I've recently began to devote serious time to classical piano. When I was younger I never had the patience or interest to build an appreciation for it.. But wow, it really is quite entertaining to see your knowledge and skill progress right in front of your eyes. Not to mention I've seen studies on how learning to play an instrument changes your neural networks enhancing how your brain approaches arithmetic. Fascinating stuff, 10/10 recommend if you've ever had any interest.

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Feb 19, 2019

Did you used to play growing up? I played in elementary-high school but stopped then and haven't gotten back into it, but I have a keyboard I've been meaning to play. Also, do you have any interest in jazz piano?

Feb 21, 2019

Honestly, didn't play at all growing up and I kick myself all the time for it. I haven't really bought any sheet music for jazz piano yet, but I do enjoy listening to it. Just not as much as classical, so starting here, then once I get bored of it or just need a change, I'll likely make the jump. Por que?

Feb 21, 2019

Depends on whether I am allowed to drink.

Sober: Classical music

Drunk: why I am right and you are wrong.

Feb 21, 2019

Double post. Sorry.

Mar 8, 2019

Drunk George_Banker sounds like the devil on my inebriated shoulder. Drunkenly explaining to someone why they're a moron is one of my favorite part-times.

Feb 21, 2019

Science, technology, space (travel, cosmology, astronomy). And these are the subtopics I'm passionate about: autonomous vehicles, flying cars, nuclear fusion, cultured meat/alternative food products, urban farming, space travel and colonization, quantum computers, manufactured housing, wireless electricity, and electric and hydrogen cars.

As you can imagine, I'm not particularly popular with the ladies.

Feb 24, 2019

I'm always interested in conversations about the future. It truly fascinates me and I feel fortunate to be born in the year I was. For you to mention "flying cars," I'm sure you must have looked into it a bit. What are your thoughts on the topic? I believe I saw a video recently of a car that can shift to a helicopter, so some variation will definitely be possible down the road.

Feb 21, 2019
HotelMotel:

I'm always interested in conversations about the future. It truly fascinates me and I feel fortunate to be born in the year I was. For you to mention "flying cars," I'm sure you must have looked into it a bit. What are your thoughts on the topic? I believe I saw a video recently of a car that can shift to a helicopter, so some variation will definitely be possible down the road.

If my decade-long prediction about autonomous vehicles is correct (that they will revolutionize the world--transportation, city planning, entertainment, insurance, recreation and vacation, interstate business travel) then that may delay the adoption of flying cars. The promise of flying cars is that they will allow you to avoid ground traffic, but IF there is widespread adoption of autonomous ground vehicles then many of the nightmarish traffic jams we know of today will disappear, which will obliterate the need for flying cars.

Regardless, I'm still fascinated by them, especially since we are closing in on the technology. I actually think hydrogen electric is the right way to power flying cars since that vehicle would be far lighter than an electric flying car. But it's possible that a major breakthrough in battery technology is just around the corner, which would make that assessment null.

If I'm designing a high-rise building today, I'm going to make sure there are two things--a landing area for flying vehicles and a well defined covered pick-up/drop-off area for autonomous ground vehicles with thoughtful ingress/egress.

Mar 8, 2019

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Mar 8, 2019

Bro but you live in the DC area? You have to admit this region has the most educated women you can find. Just yesterday I got into a discussion coming home from the metro about vertical farming with some attractive girl on the red line.

Ty

Feb 21, 2019
Pierre Ortiz:

Bro but you live in the DC area? You have to admit this region has the most educated women you can find. Just yesterday I got into a discussion coming home from the metro about vertical farming with some attractive girl on the red line.

The most boring women I've dated have been (ostensibly) highly educated. The most interesting person I've dated was a hairdresser with a high school diploma.

Mar 10, 2019

Per your comment lower, I'm really interested in the way that autonomous vehicles converge with last-mile delivery to make urban/vertical agriculture work at scale. It stops being totally essential for the production of agricultural products to be centralized when a centralized dispatch can automate those products' distribution to the customer. The analogy I think of is hub and spoke airline routes vs. point to point.

I also think cutting out retailers and using a multi-site growth operation could make urban agriculture cost competitive with traditional methods, especially when you consider the way it would reduce spoilage expense.

Feb 21, 2019

mycology and boyshorts

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Feb 22, 2019

I've recently become very interested in the last few hundred years of Russian history. Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, revolutions in 1917, Lenin, Stalin, Putin, etc. Quite a cast of characters.

Mar 8, 2019

Food and Theology, the history that drives it, geographies, associated convictions. It also helped me under people better on a fundamental level. It helps you realize how much of what we do is driven by belief and not by fact.

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Mar 8, 2019

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