The Boys in the Boat: the real history behind George Clooney’s underdog sports movie (Jonny Wilkes, January 12, 2024, History Today)

A former rower himself, Ulbrickson pushed the University of Washington rowing crews extremely hard in training sessions, which took places as frequently as six days a week. He would chop and change the boat lineups, in search of the perfect team of eight, which caused a lot of consternation and uncertainty among the young students.

Yet he had an enviable pool of talent to pick from, and sage advice from expert boat builder George Pocock. The junior varsity crew, Husky, was soon outstripping the seniors.

They improved so much, in fact, that Ulbrickson made the controversial decision to enter his juniors into Olympic qualifying, to the chagrin of the traditionalists in the rowing world.

Rowing enjoyed immense popularity in the US at the time. Thousands attended each regatta, with many spectators standing on special observation trains that ran along the riverbank to ensure not a stroke would be missed. Newspapers hailed the Husky team who became known as the ‘boys in the boat’ – working-class kids taking on teams from elite East Coast schools – and covered their successes with relish, describing their motion as a “symphony of swinging blades”.

In 1936, they dominated the national collegiate rowing championships in Poughkeepsie, New York, and raced to victory at the Olympic trials in Princeton, New Jersey, becoming the first crew from Washington to represent the US at the games.


Argentina offers a textbook study in why rent controls are a bad idea (Ryan Bourne, 1/22/24, CapX)

One of Milei’s first acts in his decree scrapped these damaging regulations for all new contracts. Rents will now be decided in free contract negotiation, meaning no more central bank indices capping rent increases. He’s also scrapped the three-year minimum contract length while making it legal for rents to be paid in foreign currency (i.e. dollars), providing landlords a hedge against inflation.

Already the reduced risks to landlords is leading a rebound in the rental supply. Broker Soledad Balayan has shown a 50% rise in notices for traditional rentals since the decree. A host of other sources, including the Argentine Real Estate Chamber, have confirmed large supply jumps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, reports show new rental prices falling, by between 20 and 30% so far.

Economists have frequently cautioned against traditional rent controls that apply caps on rents within and between tenancies. But in recent years there’s been a new drumbeat for providing more security for tenants by controlling rents within longer, secure tenancies. Argentina’s experience provides a textbook warning of how this policy can backfire, and more grist to Milei’s educational mill.


China’s population time bomb is about to explode (Matthew Henderson, 1/21/24, The Telegraph)

China’s workforce is shrinking and its population aging. There are now 280 million CCP citizens aged 60 or over. Rather than Xi’s vaunted glorious rejuvenation, a massive demographic time bomb in China is ticking.

How did this develop, and will Xi be able to defuse it? Around 1980, the CCP decided that the rate of population growth was harmful and launched mandatory birth planning measures known as the ‘One Child Policy’. Negative incentives and coercive force were then used to drive down birth rates for more than 30 years. By degrees it became clear that things had gone very wrong. Traditional patriarchal bias resulted in widespread selective female abortion, infanticide and abandonment. In China there are now 110 males for every 100 females, amounting to some 34 million ‘excess’ males. The productive labour and taxes of one young worker now have to boost the state pensions of 4 retired relatives. The number of retired CCP citizens will increase more than 30% in the next decade. The current pension system simply cannot handle this.