Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 28, 2019)

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  1. Adam Schiff: The Barr S—show: “Russians were engaged in a systemic effort to interfere in our election; the Trump campaign welcomed it, embraced it, built it into their plan, made full use of it, lied about it, covered it up, and then obstructed the investigation into it…

  2. Alan Rappeport: Stung by Trump’s Trade Wars, Wisconsin’s Milk Farmers Face Extinction: “The Voelker dairy farm in Wisconsin sold off most of its cows this year as economic and technological forces, including President Trump’s trade war, take a toll on the dairy industry…. The flagship industry in a pivotal swing state faces an economic crisis.

  3. Paul Krugman: The Great Republican Abdication: “The modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy…

  4. Abigail Disney: “Let me very clear. I like Bob Iger. I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself. Other than owning shares (not that many) I have no more say in what happens there than anyone else. But by any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane…

  5. Emma Newburger: Steve Schwarzman: Raise Minimum Wage, Eliminate Taxes for Teachers: “Blackstone CEO and Chairman Steve Schwarzman outlines a ‘Marshall Plan’ for the middle class to address increasing income inequality in America. The billionaire private equity titan and supporter of President Donald Trump pointed to three main pillars of the plan: a higher minimum wage, more resources for technical training programs in schools and the elimination of taxes for teachers. ‘What we have is less an issue of income inequality than income insufficiency for the bottom 50% of the society’, he says…

  6. Ray Dalio: Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed)

  7. Bloomberg: Quadriga’s Downfall Began When Founder Abruptly Fired All The Exchange’s ‘Law And Order’ Folks, Former Lawyer Says: “Christine Duhaime says Gerald Cotten decided one day in 2016 he no longer wanted the crypto exchange to be a listed company…

  8. Dan Margolies and Celia Llopis-Jepsen: Kansas Supreme Court Rules State Constitution Protects Right To Abortion

  9. Wikipedia: More Cowbell

  10. Walter Laquer: On Thomas Mann’s “Reflections on a Non-Political Man: “The war was totally justified, a genuine popular cause… Germany had been driven into the war by its envious adversaries. But it was also a necessity (‘fate’), for the prewar world had been deeply corrupt, not worth preserving. War was a tremendous creative event, it brought about national unity and moral elevation. These basic ideas (of the early war years) were coupled with violent attacks against the decadent West: against France which had a democratic civilization but no culture; against the British who wanted to re-educate Germany using Gurkhas and Hottentots…

  11. Gwern: Spaced Repetition

  12. Branko Milanovic: Shadows and Lights of Globalization: “Today’s globalization and its effects, positive and negative, as in many ways a mirror-replay  of the first globalization that took place from the mid-19th century to the First World War…

  13. Michael Nielsen: Augmenting Long-Term Memory

  14. Wikipedia: Ian Richardson


  1. Lawrence F. Katz: Alan B. Krueger (1960–2019): “Alan’s scholarship revealed the operation of real-world labor markets, the impacts of the minimum wage and school resources, the measurement of subjective well-being, and the plight of the unemployed. He pushed the field of economics toward a more evidence-based and scientific approach to research and policy analysis…

  2. Cryptocurrency! It would appear that TETHER is now being looted to prop up BITFINEX, which has been defrauded, as routinely happens in this space. Anybody seen the principals of Quadriga SX recently?: Izabella Kaminska: We All Become Mf Global Eventually, Tether Edition: “The New York attorney-general’s office… obtained a court order directing Bitfinex’s parent company to suspend making transactions from Tether accounts into Bitfinex accounts for the purpose of masking a loss somewhere in the order of a 850m due to a suspected fraud by a partner processor. The documentation… contains… stuff… from a Bitfinex employee—codename Merlin—on August 15th last year, to… a Panama-based entity called Crypto Capital… which also… just happened to provide payment processing for Quadriga XS, the Canadian exchange whose founder ‘died’ with the keys to about 140m of customer money): ‘Please understand this could be extremely dangerous for everybody, the entire crypto community. BTC could tank to below $1k if we don’t act quickly.’… Opacity offers huge temptation with respect to wrongly taking advantage of customer flow information for prop trading purposes or for dipping into customer deposits for proprietary purposes without customer approval. Or just losing funds in other careless ways…. The key points are as follows…

  3. Jonathan Portes: Scruton Is Part of an Intellectual Culture Giving Respectability to Racism: “Scruton’s essay… is a defence, of sorts, of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech. The direct political peg for Powell’s speech was his opposition to the 1968 Race Relations Act, which outlawed direct discrimination in housing or employment, as exemplified by signs saying ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’…. Scruton’s… final point… more extreme…. Immigrant integration… is logically impossible, even for the British-born children of immigrants. ‘Like the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass, they [liberal politicians] practiced the art of believing six impossible propositions before breakfast, including the proposition that pious Muslims from the hinterlands of Asia would produce children loyal to a secular European state.’… Scruton’s writings from the 2000s could have come straight from the BNP manifesto of the time, and legitimised those who made such claims…

  4. Rosa Luxemburg: Library: “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege…

  5. Jason Furman and Lawrence H. Summers: Further Thinking on the Costs and Benefits of Deficits: “1. IS THE POLITICAL SYSTEM SO BIASED TOWARDS DEFICIT INCREASES THAT ECONOMISTS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO OVEREMPHASIZE THE COSTS OF DEFICITS?… The political system can be biased towards greater deficits. But the opposite is often the case as well…. The fiscal stimulus was too small in the wake of the Great Recession…. Deficit reduction in the late 1990s was probably excessive, especially in light of the license it gave for unproductive tax cuts. Germany is one of many countries that has also shown that politicians can generate excessive fiscal prudence. Japan has done the same at many points…. With interest rates so low that they could limit central banks’ ability to respond in a downturn everywhere in the industrial world, the dangers posed by anti-deficit dogma in the next recession could be enormous…. The role of economists is to analyze the economy and not to lean one way or the other to counteract some presumed bias of politicians…. 2. DO THE CHANGING ECONOMICS OF DEFICITS MEAN THAT ANYTHING GOES AND WE DO NOT NEED TO PAY ANY ATTENTION TO FISCAL CONSTRAINTS?… No. The costs and benefits of deficits have changed, but we still need a limiting principle in order to conduct fiscal policy…. YOU ADVOCATE DOING NO HARM, BUT IS THAT ENOUGH TO STABILIZE THE DEBT AT A REASONABLE LEVEL? Yes, it likely is enough, if we also do what is widely agreed, which is to eventually close the shortfalls in both Social Security and Medicare hospital insurance and not use the savings to pay for other priorities…. 4. ISN’T ACTION ON THE DEFICIT URGENT IN ORDER TO REDUCE THE RISK OF A FISCAL CRISIS? No…. 5. DO YOU THINK ANYTHING ABOUT FISCAL POLICY IS URGENT? Yes. We should be making contingency plans for the next recession…

  6. How and why did they corrupt Wharton’s Jeremy Siegel?: Cardiff Garcia: “‘But his presence would serve to remind Fed governors that there are many ways to interpret economic data’. Gotta say “let’s start putting incompetent people on important committees to remind other committee members that some people are incompetent” is multiverse-level thinking… ‘Sujeet Indap: “This is embarrassing, Jeremy Siegel: ‘Jeremy Siegel: A Professor for Stephen Moore: “I am not a fan of a gold or even a strict commodity standard, but analyzing sensitive commodity markets’ price signals should be an important input…. As for Mr. Moore’s earlier warnings that former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing would lead to rapid inflation, recall that some well-respected monetary economists echoed them…


  1. Wikipedia: Adalbert von Bredow

  2. Wikipedia: Battle of Mars-la-Tour

  3. Christian P. Potholm: Understanding War: An Annotated Bibliography: “Citino’s final emphasis ofn the German tradition of Tottenritt

  4. Wikipedia: List of Particles | Quark | Fermion | Lepton | Boson | Hadron | Baryon | Meson

  5. Wikipedia: Children of Jacob

  6. Wikipedia: Fugitive Slave Clause

  7. Wikiquote: Rosa Luxemburg

  8. Wikipedia: Rosa Luxemburg

  9. Max Shachtman (1938): Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg (1938)

  10. Rosa Luxemburg: The Russian Revolution: “Chapter 8: Democracy and Dictatorship…

  11. Rosa Luxemburg: The Russian Revolution: “Chapter 6: The Problem of Dictatorship: Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc….

  12. Rosa Luxemburg: Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy

  13. Hal Draper (1987): The ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ in Marx and Engels

  14. Wikipedia: Dictatorship of the proletariat

  15. 5-Minute History: 10 Fascinating Facts About the Belle Époque

  16. Wikipedia: Belle Époque

  17. Review of Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed and The Economist as Saviour

  18. Author: Review of: Robert Skidelsky (2000), “John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Britain”

  19. Writing Bulls— for the WSJ Op-Ed Page as a Career Strategy: The Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists


#noted #weblogs 

Edmund Wilson (1940): Trotsky, History, and Providence: Weekend Reading

Leon Trotsky 6 facts about the disgraced Russian revolutionary Russia Beyond

Weekend Reading: Edmund Wilson (1940): Trotsky, History, and Providence (from “To the Finland Station”): History, then, with its dialectical Trinity, had chosen Prince Svyatopolk-Mirsky to disillusion the middle class, had propounded revolutionary conclusions which it had compelled Father Gapon to bless, and will cruelly discredit and destroy certain Pharisees and Sadducees of Marxism before it summons the boiling lava of the Judgment.

These statements make no sense whatever unless one substitutes for the words history and dialectic of history the words Providence and God. And this Providential power of history is present in all the writings of Trotsky. John Jay Chapman said of Browning that God did duty in his work as noon, verb, adjective, adverb, interjection and prepositions; and the same is true of History with Trotsky…

…Of late, in his solitude and exile, this History, an austere spirit, has seemed actually to stand behind his chair as he writes, encouraging, admonishing, approving, giving him the courage to confound his accusers, who have never seen Historys face:

…What it may mean in moments of action to feel History towering at one’s elbow with her avenging sword in her hand is shown in the remarkable scene at the first congress of the Soviet dictatorship after the success of the October insurrection of 1917, when Trotsky, with the contempt and indignation of a prophet, read Martov and his followers out of a meeting. “You are pitiful isolated individuals,” he cried at the height of the Bolshevik triumph. “You are bankrupt; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on–into the garbage-pile of history!”

…These words are worth pondering for the light they throw on the course of Marxist politics and thought. Observe that the merging of yourself with the onrush of the current of history is to save you from the ignoble fate of being a “pitiful, isolated individual”; and that the failure so to merge yourself will relegate you to the garbage-pile of history, where you can presumably be of no more use.

…Today, though we may agree with the Bolsheviks that Martov was no man of action, his croakings over the course they had adopted seem to us full of far-sighted intelligence. He pointed out that proclaiming a socialist regime in conditions different from those contemplated by Marx would not realize the results that Marx expected; that Marx and Engels had usually described the dictatorship of the proletariat as having the form, for the new dominant class, of a democratic republic, with universal suffrage and the popular recall of officials; that the slogan “All power to the Soviets” had never really meant what it said and had soon been exchanged by Lenin for “All power to the Bolshevik Party.”

…There sometimes can turn out to be valuable objects cast away in the garbage-pile of history–things that have to be retrieved later on. From the point of view of the Stalinist Soviet Union, that is where Trotsky himself is today; and he might well discard his earlier assumption that an isolated individual must needs be “pitiful” for the conviction of Dr. Stockman in Ibsen’s Enemy of the People that “the strongest man is he who stands most alone.”


#weekendreading #trotsky #history 

Writing Bulls— for the WSJ Op-Ed Page as a Career Strategy: The Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists

The extra quarter’s worth of data from the new BEA NIPA release raises this, once again, to the top of the pile: Note the contrast between the path of investment, on the one hand, implicit in the growth forecast of the effects of the Trump-Ryan-McConnell tax cut that Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor, and, on the other hand, reality:

Real Gross Private Domestic Investment Real Potential Gross Domestic Product 1 06 FRED St Louis Fed

If you are even 10% in the explain-the-world business—if you are even 1% in the explain-the-world business—such a sharp disjunction between what you had predicted and the outcome calls forth curiosity, interest, and explanations of why you think you went wrong and what your future research projects will be to figure it out.

Only if you are 100% in the I-am-engaging-in-vice-signalling-by-writing-bulls—-to-please-my-political-masters business are you left doing <crickets> in response to such a very sharp disjunction between your predictions and reality.

Yet as I listen to each and very one of the Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists, all that I hear is: <crickets>…

Come to think of it, none of the nine has dared to see that Steve Moore is unqualified to serve on the Federal Reserve, either—and two of the nine, Taylor and Lindsey, are, I am assured, in his corner…


#moralresponsibility #economicsgonewrong #fiscalpolicy #economicgrowth #orangehairedbaboons 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 26, 2019)

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  • April 26, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Nothing has changed—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways. Specifically, it is still the case that…

  • For the Weekend: Jessie J: Domino


  1. I would note that when Twitter blocks a Republican politician for being a Nazi, it is not making a mistake: the point of the tweet it blocks is to tiptoe up to the edge of Nazihood while still maintaining a smidgeon of implausible deniability. But algorithms are not good at detecting those speech markers meant to preserve implausible deniability: Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler: [Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS? Because It Would Mean Banning Some Republican Politicians Too(https://motherboard.vice.com/enus/article/a3xgq5/why-wont-twitter-treat-white-supremacy-like-isis-because-it-would-mean-banning-some-republican-politicians-too)_: “A Twitter employee who works on machine learning believes that a proactive, algorithmic solution to white supremacy would also catch Republican politicians…

  2. Vox Staff: 5 Years Of Vox, Explained by Our Staff

  3. Lauren Williams: Vox Turns 5: “Since its launch in 2014, Vox has gone through countless changes. One thing has stayed the same… a pristine clarity of purpose that’s translated across beats, platforms, and mediums. We explain. We give the context. We go deep. We put our audience first. On Vox’s fifth anniversary, this clarity of purpose is the throughline of our best work…

  4. Ariel Kalil, Catherine E. Born, James Kunz, and Pamela J. Caudill: Life Stressors, Social Support, and Depressive Symptoms Among First-Time Welfare Recipients

  5. Ashley Jardina: White Identity Politics Is About More than Racism: “We can’t mask the fact that we’re also talking about the protection and preservation of whites in the United States at the expense of racial and ethnic minorities…. I make this really crisp distinction between white identity and white racial prejudice…. There are a lot of white people who do have this sense of solidarity but who wouldn’t score particularly high on any social science measure of racial prejudice. For these whites, it’s about protecting their in-group and showing some sense of favoritism…. Most… would absolutely reject any association with white supremacist organizations, and yet in some instances, they do hold a lot of the same beliefs as some of these groups…

  6. Dao Nguyen: Cultural Cartography: “The people doing the something, reading or watching—what are they thinking?… What if, instead of tagging what articles or videos are about, what if we asked: How is it helping our users do a real job in their lives? Last year, we started a project to formally categorize our content in this way. We called it, ‘cultural cartography’. It formalized an informal practice that we’ve had for a really long time: don’t just think about the subject matter; think also about, and in fact, primarily about, the job that your content is doing for the reader or the viewer…


  1. This may well be the most insightful thing I have read last year, at least as far as its definition of conservatism is concerned: Frank Wilhoit: The Travesty of Liberalism: “There is no such thing as liberalism—or progressivism, etc. There is only conservatism. No other political philosophy actually exists; by the political analogue of Gresham’s Law, conservatism has driven every other idea out of circulation. There might be, and should be, anti-conservatism; but it does not yet exist. What would it be? In order to answer that question, it is necessary and sufficient to characterize conservatism. Fortunately, this can be done very concisely. Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: “There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect”

  2. Too little. And too late for 2010-2016. Hopefully not too late for the next business cycle: Joseph E. Gagnon and Christopher G. Collins: Changes Are Coming to the Fed’s Monetary Policy Strategy | PIIE: “The most likely outcome of the review is that the Fed will commit itself to intentionally overshooting its inflation target after episodes at the zero bound in which it has undershot the target…

  3. Noah Smith’s plan for reviving rural and small-city America is to spend a fortune establishing research universities that will attract graduate students from abroad. A good many of them will then settle where they went to school. And they will then figure out how to use local factors of production to generates value in the world economy, and so revive the area. But that would require boosterish elites in the south, in the prairie, and in the midwest. And part of the social pathology fo those regions is that they do not have boosterish elites: Paul Krugman: Getting Real About Rural America: “Nobody knows how to reverse the heartland’s decline…. Rural lives matter—we’re all Americans, and deserve to share in the nation’s wealth…. But it’s also important to get real. There are powerful forces behind the relative and in some cases absolute economic decline of rural America—and the truth is that nobody knows how to reverse those forces. Put it this way: Many of the problems facing America have easy technical solutions; all we lack is the political will. Every other advanced country provides universal health care. Affordable child care is within easy reach. Rebuilding our fraying infrastructure would be expensive, but we can afford it—and it might well pay for itself. But reviving declining regions is really hard. Many countries have tried, but it’s difficult to find any convincing success stories… Southern Italy… the former East Germany…. Maybe we could do better, but history is not on our side…

  4. Nice to see that the very sharp Jared Bernstein of CBPP is recovering from his health misadventure, and is already saying very smart things again: Jared Bernstein: Ch-ch-ch-changes!: “GS fiscal analyst Alec Phillips… worth a close look…. One of the more important policy-driven determinants of near-term US growth is under debate right now: setting discretionary spending levels for 2020/21…. Even were Congress to agree to keep the levels of discretionary spending stable over the next few years, the impact will be a fading of fiscal stimulus on real GDP growth… When it comes to fiscal impulse, it’s not the level that matters. It’s the change. The last deal–the one that determined spending in 2018/19–went both well above the caps but, more important from an impulse perspective, went well above prior agreements…. That’s one reason to expect 2020 growth to be closer to 2 percent than 3 percent…

  5. David Roberts: Barcelona, Spain, Urban Planning: A City’s Vision to Dig Out from Cars: “a four-square-block area, roughly 5,000 square meters, has been pedestrianized, reclaimed from cars and given over to people for a mix of uses. Only residents’ vehicles and delivery vehicles enter, and when they do, they are on the same level of pavement as pedestrians and must match their speed. We have come upon a crosswalk, with a small ramp leading to a painted pathway across the street. At the curb, there’s a trash can on one side and a lamppost on the other. The tableau is, to my eye, entirely unremarkable…. The city attempts to be comprehensible, navigable, and welcoming at a human scale, to people not in cars…. Rueda’s enthusiasm for the fine-grained texture of urban life—the spacing of trees, the height and orientation of signs, the structure of intersections—is infectious. His discourse on crosswalks comes amid a two-hour stroll filled with such details, each one revealing some new facet of the city’s logic and history, like little veils being peeled away…. I can’t help but be struck by a contrast. To one side of us is the superblock, filled with people walking with their shopping bags and small dogs, sitting in clusters, everywhere talking and talking…. Or at least they look like they’re talking. The low buzz of conversation is drowned out by what’s to our other side: cars…

  6. Barry Ritholtz: Is 3 & 30 the new 2 & 20?: “The hedge fund industry… are the latest group to succumb to ‘Winner Take All’ ethos…. In 2018 ‘the industry saw its biggest annual loss since 2011, declining 4.1 percent on an a fund-weighted basis’…. For all but the most elite… poor performance has led to pressure from clients. Look no further than the changing nature of those fees…. With a few notable exceptions, 2 & 20 is no more. About those exceptions: the winner takes all ethos applies as much to hedge fund managers as it does to the rest of us…. Bridgewater,… Pure Alpha vehicle generate[d] 14.6 percent in gains in 2018…. D.E. Shaw… is… moving back to a fee structure of 3 percent of assets and 30 percent of profits it used throughout the aughts. Its 14 billion Composite fund, gained 11.2 percent in 2018…

  7. “Yes” for 2000, Alex: Andrew Napolitano: Did President Trump Obstruct Justice?: ” Mueller laid out at least a half-dozen crimes of obstruction committed by Trump—from asking former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland to write an untruthful letter about the reason for Flynn’s chat with Kislyak, to asking Corey Lewandowski and then-former White House Counse lDon McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn to lie about it, to firing Comey to impede the FBI’s investigations, to dangling a pardon in front of Michael Cohen to stay silent, to ordering his aides to hide and delete records…. Barr’s view requires that the obstructer has done his obstructing in order to impede the investigation or prosecution of a crime that the obstructer himself has committed. Thus, in this narrow view, because Trump did not commit the crime of conspiracy with the Russians, it was legally impossible for Trump to have obstructed the FBI investigation of that crime. The nearly universal view of law enforcement, however, is that the obstruction statute prohibits all attempted self-serving interference with government investigations or proceedings…. House Democrats… know from history that impeachment only succeeds if there is a broad, national, bipartisan consensus behind it, no matter the weight of the evidence…. They might try to generate that consensus by parading Mueller’s witnesses to public hearings…. The president’s job is to enforce federal law. If he had ordered its violation to save innocent life or preserve human freedom, he would have a moral defense. But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable…

  8. Robert Armstrong, Oliver Ralph and Eric Platt: Warren Buffett: ‘I’m Having More Fun Than Any 88-Year-Old in the World’: “Warren Buffett. Over the past 54 years, shares in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, have outpaced the S&P 500—a broad index of American stocks—by almost 2.5 million percentage points. The degree to which Buffett has outwitted successive generations of Wall Street rivals almost defies comprehension. It is striking, then, that over the past decade Buffett has fallen behind. A dollar invested in Berkshire 10 years ago is worth about 2.40; the same dollar in an S&P 500 tracker fund is worth 3.20. More striking still is what Buffett says about this…. ‘I think this: if you want to join something that may have a tiny expectation of better [performance] than the S&P, I think we may be about the safest’…. Every working day, $100m rolls into Berkshire—cash from its subsidiaries, dividends from its shares, interest from its treasuries. Something must be done with it all. The porridge is starting to overrun the house…. If the problem is too much money, a natural response would be to get rid of some. Companies do this all the time: they pay dividends or sell off business units. Why not get smaller, so that Berkshire can get back to producing outsized returns?… The only way Buffett will countenance reducing the company’s massive pile of shareholder equity is to buy back shares when they are selling at a price he thinks is lower than their true value…. But what happens when Berkshire’s shares are trading at a fair price, and companies and stocks look expensive too? ‘That’s my nightmare’, Buffett says…

  9. Adam Parkhomenko: @AdamParkhomenko: “Is this a joke? We paid North Korea to torture an American to death? Trump paid them to torture an American to death and then ‘fell in love’ with the monster who sent the bill: Abby D. Phillip: @abbydphillip: ‘The US reportedly agreed to pay a $2 million “bill” for the care of Otto Warmbier, who was returned to the US in a coma and later died…

  10. Murray Waas: Mueller Prosecutors: Trump Did Obstruct Justice: “Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded… that they had sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice…. The two prosecutors disclosed this information in then-confidential conversations with two other federal law enforcement officials, who subsequently recounted what they were told to me…. Without consulting with Mueller, Attorney General William Barr declared that in the absence of a final judgment by Mueller as to whether or not the president broke the law, he, the attorney general, had taken it upon himself to make that determination…. Many… have questioned the propriety and legitimacy of Barr’s making such a decision…

  11. Charles Gaba: GOP Senator Openly Admits Millions of Americans Are Only Alive Thanks to Democrats, and that Republicans Are Still Trying to Kill Them: “I’ve included the transcript below, but words can’t accurately describe the tone of voice or the body language of Grassley in the actual video, so I’ll just urge everyone to watch it…. This is… absolutely stunning. In the space of less than two minutes, Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (1) Admits that the ACA may be repealed due to a lawsuit brought by fellow Republicans, (2) Admits that he personally voted to repeal the ACA seven times, (3) Declares that it’s not going to be repealed now even though he just admitted that it could be, (4) Yells at, berates and mocks a woman for wanting to know why he keeps trying to kill her, (5) Openly admits that the only reason she’s alive today is because every Democratic Senator (plus 3 Republicans, one of whom is now dead) voted against repeal the last time around, (6) Openly admits that the only thing keeping her alive today is the fact that Democrats retook the House of Representatives, (7) Shrugs her off when she points out that he and his fellow Congressional Republicans are still trying to kill her. I’m not sure what else to say about this, except elections have consequences…


  1. Flavio Copes: The CSS Handbook: “A handy guide to CSS for developers…

  2. Learn Regular Expressions

  3. Manton Reece: Video hosting in Micro.blog | Micro.blog: Podcasting + Video Hosting

  4. Wikipedia: Tocharian languages

  5. Rotten Tomatoes: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

  6. Federico Echenique

  7. Wikipedia: Venus Anadyomene

  8. Wikipedia: Isla Mujeres

  9. Berggruen Institute: Nils Gilman: VP for Programs


#noted #weblogs 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 23, 2019)

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  1. Brandi Neal: Illustrator Tyler Feder’s ‘Work-From-Home Fashions’ Cartoon Is Relatable AF: “I work from home and it’s been about a month since I’ve done any laundry that’s included pants with zippers. It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one. Illustrator Tyler Feder gets it, and she created these work-from-home looks that are way too relatable…

  2. David Anderson: Oklahoma Medicaid Expansion Is on the Ballot: “Oklahoma activists are going the same route as Utah, Idaho and Nebraska activists successfully used in the 2018 election cycle: They are trying to get enough signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot…

  3. Ron White (2010): You Can’t Fix Stupid

  4. Pavithra Mohan: Who is actually middle class?: “It might not feel that way, but you might actually be upper middle class…

  5. Keith Whittington: Reckoning with the Mueller Report, Volume One: “That only one of Trump’s campaign managers found himself imprisoned in the aftermath of the election or that Donald Trump’s son-in-law thought it was a ‘waste of time’ when a meeting failed to deliver the promised incriminating Russian government files is no cause for celebration…

  6. Ben Thompson: Uber Questions Follow-up, Luminary Launches, Luminary’s Broken Rung: “I do feel bad that yesterday’s Weekly Article, Uber Questions, was so late; in this case, the article itself got at why: I spent hours upon hours trying to craft a narrative around the numbers I could pull from Uber’s S-1, before finally realizing I was wasting my time. There was going to be no water from that stone. So that ended up being my point: there simply wasn’t anything in the S-1…

  7. Wikipedia: 5 Nanometer: “In early 2018, TSMC announced production of a 5 nm node by 2020 on its new Fab 18. In October 2018, TSMC disclosed plans to start risk production of 5 nm devices by April 2019…

  8. Wikipedia: Mississippi State Penitentiary: “Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), also known as Parchman Farm, is a prison farm, the oldest prison, and the only maximum security prison for men in the state of Mississippi…

  9. Oliver Miller: 50 Quotes From The Movie Aliens, Ranked In Order Of Awesomeness


  1. H. W. Singor Spartan Land Lots and Helot Rents

  2. Aristotle: Politics §1270: “One might censure the Spartan institutions with respect to the unequal distribution of wealth. It has come about that some of the Spartans own too much property and some extremely little; owing to which the land has fallen into few hands, and this has also been badly regulated by the laws…. As a result… although the country is capable of supporting fifteen hundred cavalry and thirty thousand heavy-armed troopers, they numbered not even a thousand. And the defective nature of their system of land-tenure has been proved by the actual facts of history: the state did not succeed in enduring a single blow, but perished owing to the smallness of its population. They have a tradition that in the earlier reigns they used to admit foreigners to their citizenship, with the result that dearth of population did not occur in those days, although they were at war for a long period; and it is stated that at one time the Spartiates numbered as many as ten thousand. However, whether this is true or not, it is better for a state’s male population to be kept up by measures to equalize property…

  3. Equitable Growth: Staff

  4. R. Kaufmann, H. Kauppi, and J. Stock: The Relationship Between Radiative Forcing and Temperature: What Do Statistical Analyses of the Intrumental Temperature Record Measure?

  5. Stephen Moore: March Madness & NCAA Basketball: “Back to the NCAAs. Here’s the rule change I propose: No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything. There is, of course, an exception to this rule. Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant. Bonnie Bernstein should wear a halter top. This is a no-brainer, CBS. What in the world are you waiting for?…

  6. Glory Liu: Rethnking the “Chicago Smith” Problem: Adam Smith the Invisible Hand, 1929-1980

  7. Mentimeter: Interactive Presentation Software

  8. Vik’s Chaat


  1. Mohamed A. El-Erian: Economy: The Missing Elements for a Market ‘Melt Up’: “Stronger global fundamentals need to underpin elevated asset prices, and the Fed must maintain a tricky policy balance as the U.S. continues to outperform advanced countries…. The argument for a melt up (involving a pile on by investors who don’t want to be left on the sidelines during a market rise regardless of any change in market fundamentals) essentially extrapolates forward the impact of central bank liquidity support in the context of the notion of investment portfolio underexposure to stocks and the continued proliferation of index products. This is also known as the FOMO, or fear-of-missing-out, effect…

  2. As I understand it, the big difference between Auten and Splinter’s inequality estimates and those of other researchers are that Auten and Splinter (a) have not harmonized their estimates with the components of the System of National Accounts, (b) assume low-income business owners evade a greater share of the taxes they owe than do high-income business owners, (c) do not assign undistributed pension earnings to their ultimate owners, (d) assume that the corporate tax is largely borne by low-income current retirees, and (e) define the top 1% by summing the incomes of all earners in the family but calculate their earning by dividing income by the number of adults in the family (see PSZ: “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States Data Appendix”). I do not, given the random audit studies, understand why they do (b). And I think that (e) is simply wrong. (e) has a big effect on inequality trends because of increasing female paid employment and decreasing marriage rates among the non-rich. Thus at the moment at least I find myself strongly on the side of Piketty, Saez, and Zucman in this disagreement—and not just because two of those three work down the hall from me. But I do strongly share Auten and Splinter’s dissatisfaction with the concept being measured here by the standard estimates. I want to see inequality defined as the lifetime distribution fo economic and social power, and I would very much want to see Piketty, Saez, and Zucman—and others—try to lay out how they think of getting from the income estimates they report to an assessment of the inequality concept we really want to see: Austen Clemens: Progress Toward Consensus on Measuring U.S. Income Inequality: “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development… the team from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis… Gerald Auten… and David Splinter at the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation… Thomas Piketty… Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman…. All… attempt to quantify changes in income inequality after taxes and transfers…

  3. Randall Munroe: Physicists

  4. Michael Nielsen: Six Rules for Rewriting: “Write freely, and then… rewrite…. Six rules that help me recognize the bad bits in my own writing…. Every sentence should grab the reader and propel them forward…. Every paragraph should contain a striking idea…. The most significant ideas should be distilled into the most potent sentences possible…. Use the strongest appropriate verb…. Beware of nominalization: A common way we weaken verbs is by turning them into nouns, and then combining them with weaker verbs…. None of the above rules should be consciously applied while drafting…. Only once you are done should you… rewrite…

  5. Carole Cadwalladr: @carolecadwalla: “Oh wow. This is what happened after my talk at #TED2019. This bit is not in the video. @TEDchris invited @facebook to respond. ‘We will make time for you,’ he said. Instead, they made an official complaint about what I said. And then: silence…

  6. Sally Albright: @SallyAlbright: “I called it. Bernie ran the exact same scam that lost Jim Wright his Speakership and cost Newt Gingrich $400k in fines, but from campaign donations, not from lobbyists. And sadly, it’s legal. Unethical af, but legal: ‘Bernie spent $444k of campaign dollars on his own books in 2015…

  7. It is interesting to note that Adam Smith’s one explicit use of the phrase “Invisible Hand” in his Wealth of Nations is not a situation in which the competitive market equilibrium is Pareto-optimal. It is of a situation with two market failures—a home bias psychological failure among the merchants of Amsterdam, and agglomeration economies for mercantile activity in Amsterdam. And the two offset each other: if merchants were rational, the free-market equilibrium would ternate an inefficient sacrifice the agglomeration economies. If the agglomeration economies were absent, psychological home bias would lead to an inefficient concentration of activity: Glory Liu: How the Chicago School Changed the Meaning of Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand’: “For Friedman and Stigler, economics’ scientific power came from its ability to predict outcomes based on two central insights… in The Wealth of Nations… self-interest… [and,] of course, the invisible hand…. Few economists were as successful as Friedman in spreading this interpretation of Smith’s ideas to the public… populariz[ing] this interpretation of Smith’s invisible hand for an overtly conservative political agenda…. What makes the Smith of Milton Friedman and George Stigler so… problematic… is that they ‘economized’ Smith in a way that obscured if not precluded the relevance of his moral philosophy and political theory…. Whether his political value stems from the idea that he is an economist or moral philosopher or something else, however, is something that we—Smith’s readers—get to decide…

  8. This is absolutely brilliantly done, and striking in the size of the effect found!: Forced exile and migration producing a durable human-capital culture among ethnic Poles: Sascha O. Becker, Irena Grosfeld, Pauline Grosjean, Nico Voigtländer, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya: Forced Migration and Human Capital: Evidence from Post-WWII Population Transfers: “World War II, the Polish borders were redrawn… migration… from the Kresy territories in the East (taken over by the USSR) and were resettled mostly to the newly acquired Western Territories, from which Germans were expelled…. Poles with a family history of forced migration are significantly more educated today. Descendants of forced migrants have on average one extra year of schooling, driven by a higher propensity to finish secondary or higher education…. Since Kresy migrants were of the same ethnicity and religion as other Poles, we bypass confounding factors of other cases of forced migration…. Survey evidence suggests that forced migration led to a shift in preferences, away from material possessions and towards investment in a mobile asset–human capital. The effects persist over three generations…

  9. Well worth your time chasing the links from this review of work Equitable Growth has published over the past several years on women’s roles. At the root, I think, is that a great many of our economic and societal practices reflect gender reality as it stood 50, 100, or 150 years ago—and both biological and even more societal reality as it stood then was hardly conducive to the empowerment of women. Recall that two centuries ago an overwhelming proportion of women became mothers, that the typical mother stood a one-in-seven chance of dying in childbed, and that the typical mother (if she survived) would spend twenty years eating for two—pregnant or nursing—in a world in which childcare-by-non-relatives was a thing for only the upper class. Legacy institutions from that time are unlikely to serve today’s women—or men—well: Equitable Growth: Equitable Growth’s History of Focusing on Women’s Role in the Economy: A Review: “How women are reshaping the American economy…. Gender wage inequality…. Paid family and medical leave…. Women… [and] family economic security…. The gender gap in economics…. The link between bodily autonomy and economic opportunity…. The wages of care…. Motherhood penalties…

  10. Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier: Information Attacks on Democracies: “Democracies, in contrast, are vulnerable to information attacks that turn common political knowledge into contested political knowledge. If people disagree on the results of an election, or whether a census process is accurate, then democracy suffers. Similarly, if people lose any sense of what the other perspectives in society are, who is real and who is not real, then the debate and argument that democracy thrives on will be degraded. This is what seems to be Russia’s aims in their information campaigns against the U.S.: to weaken our collective trust in the institutions and systems that hold our country together. This is also the situation that writers like Adrien Chen and Peter Pomerantsev describe in today’s Russia, where no one knows which parties or voices are genuine, and which are puppets of the regime, creating general paranoia and despair…


#noted #weblogs 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 21-2, 2019)

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  • Across the Wide Missouri: Is tonight the Game of Thrones episode when Tony Stark shows up? Asking for a friend…

  1. Jeffrey Adam Sachs: The “Campus Free Speech Crisis” Ended Last Year: “The evidence for a chilling effect… is sketchy at best. By contrast, the evidence for a heating effect is quite robust. Many students explain that the only reason they choose to invite controversial speakers to campus is to challenge or provoke their classmates…. Turning Point USA and Young America’s Foundation proudly tout the ability of their speakers to ‘trigger’ liberal students. In fact, generating student outrage, even to the point of being deplatformed, has become such a badge of honor that some speakers are fabricating deplatforming incidents where none exist…

  2. Wikipedia: Evolution of Nervous Systems

  3. Wikipedia: Apple A12

  4. Joanna Stern: This Was Supposed to Be a Samsung Galaxy Fold Video Review: “Whatever You Do, Don’t Peel The Screen…. WSJ’s Joanna Stern had big plans to review Samsung’s first foldable phone. Then other Samsung phone screens started breaking and she accidentally began to peel off the screen protector that’s not really a screen protector. Here’s her non-review…

  5. Dietrich Vollrath: Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy Is a Sign of Success https://books.google.com/books?isbn=022666600X


  1. Joanna Stern: Apple’s Faulty MacBook Butterfly Keyboard Explained… With Real Butterflies: “Fly Far Away, Butterfly Keyboard: The third generation of the butterfly keyboard on Apple’s Mac laptops was supposed to fix all the problems. But nope. WSJ’s Joanna Stern explains why the keyboards on the newest and most expensive MacBooks keep breaking—and the few things you can do about it…

  2. Jill Lepore: Are Robots Competing for Your Job? | The New Yorker: “Probably, but don’t count yourself out…

  3. Sheelah Kolhatkar: Welcoming Our New Robot Overlords: “Once, robots assisted human workers. Now it’s the other way around…

  4. Tia Maria: Carne de Porco a Alentejana

  5. Tia Maria: Favas Guisadas com Chouriço

  6. Wikipedia: Marmalade

  7. Wikipedia: Easter Vigil: “The original twelve Old Testament readings for the Easter Vigil survive in an ancient manuscript belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem…. Psalm 117 [118] sung with the response, “This is the day which the Lord has made.” Then followed twelve Old Testament readings…. Genesis 1:1–3:24 (the story of creation)… Genesis 22:1-18… (3) Exodus 12:1-24… Jonah 1:1–4:11… Exodus 14:24–15:21… Isaiah 60:1-13… Job 38:2-28… 2 Kings 2:1-22… Jeremiah 31:31-34… Joshua 1:1-9… Ezekiel 37:1-14… (12) Daniel 3:1-29…. In the Roman Rite liturgy, the Easter Vigil consists of four parts: The Service of Light, The Liturgy of the Word, Christian Initiation and the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, Eucharist…

  8. Wikipedia: Dresden Frauenkirche

  9. Wikipedia: John Laurens

  10. Wikipedia: Hercules Mulligan

  11. Wikipedia: Angelica Schuyler Church

  12. Data For Progress

  13. Wikipedia: Mary Jane Girls

  14. William Matthew Makeham (1868): On the Theory of Annuities Certain


  1. Spencer Strub: Why it Matters ‘Game of Thrones’ Is a Climate-Change Story: “The Cersei Lannister story is a good stand-in for the fossil-fuel-funded congresspeople”…. The wildlings are stand-ins for frontline communities impacted by extreme weather… the narrative of displacement and migration…. People make meaning out of the books and the show, and that is not limited by the author’s intentions. I think that this is one of the ways that Game of Thrones’ is mobilized into contemporary political discourse

  2. David Gardner: Spain’s Open Election Highlights Its Polarisation Problem: “Spain this month faces the most wide-open electoral contest since the restoration of democracy that followed the death of Francisco Franco…. The three parties on the right are competing to prove who can be the most bellicose towards minority nationalisms—the touchstone issue of rightwing populism in Spain rather than immigration…

  3. I will take “the Trumpets are easily-grifted morons” for 2000, Alex: Ed Luce: A Preacher For Trump’s America: Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel: “Lakewood Church’s 60m ‘smiling pastor’ holds up worldly success as proof of God’s favour: With a fortune estimated at 60m and a mansion listed on Zillow at 10.7m, Osteen is hardly living like a friar. His suburban Houston home has three elevators, a swimming pool and parking for 20 cars—including his 230,000 Ferrari 458 Italia. ‘My dad says, “How can you follow the sixth-richest pastor in the world?”‘ one of the men said. ‘You know what I tell him? ‘We don’t want to follow a loser. Osteen should be number one on that list.’ Everyone laughed. One or two shouted, ‘Hell, yeah’ in affirmation—the only time I was to hear the word ‘hell’. Another said: ‘He didn’t become rich because of our tithes [the practice of giving a 10th of your income to the church]. He became rich because he makes good investments’…

  4. Building up the data base we need to understand inequality on a global scale: Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman: World Inequality Report 2018: “The World Inequality Report 2018 relies on a cutting-edge methodology to measure income and wealth inequality in a systematic and transparent manner. By developing this report, the World Inequality Lab seeks to fill a democratic gap and to equip various actors of society with the necessary facts to engage in informed public debates on inequality…

  5. Richard Baldwin has a new book and has coined the ugliest word I have ever seen to promote it. It is very interesting, and I think it is largely right. But I think it does have a big problem with the word “globotics”: “globalization” and “robots”, even robot-enabled globalization and globalization-enabled robots, are two very different processes with very different implications. Squashing them into one makes his argument less coherent than it might have been: Richard Baldwin: The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work: “A new form of globalization will combine with software robots to disrupt service-sector and professional jobs in the same way automation and trade disrupted manufacturing jobs…. Software robots… pervasive translation that open[s] new opportunities for outsourcing to tele-migrants…. Future jobs will be more human and involve more face-to-face contact since software robots and tele-migrants will do everything else…

  6. Some of us may be intellectually quicker than others. Some of us may have a greater breadth or depth of real or virtual experience than others. But intellectual quickness, depth or breadth of experience, and depth or breadth of virtual experience—none of those make us smart, or wise. Being stupid is a choice. We can all train ourselves not to make that choice: Morgan Housel: Different Kinds of Stupid: “Smart is the ability to solve hard problems, which can be done many ways. Stupid is a tendency to not comprehend easy problems. It’s also is a diversified trait. A few kinds of stupid…. 1. Intelligence creep: Not knowing the boundaries of what you’re good at…. 2. Underestimating the complexity of how past successes were gained in a way that makes you overestimate their repeatability…. 3. Discounting the views of people who aren’t as credentialed as you are…. 4. Not understanding that in the… real world it’s you vs. coworkers, employees, customers, regulators, etc., all of whom need to be persuaded by more than having the right answer…. 5. Closed-system thinking: Underestimating the external consequences of your decisions in a hyperconnected world, or dismissing how quickly those consequences can backfire on you…

  7. Scott Sumner: What Lessons Do Conservatives Need to Learn?: “If the conservative movement were serious about learning from their mistakes in the early 2010s, they’d be looking at the group that provided the most accurate description of what was likely to happen, especially given that this group has a number of people with right-of-center views on economic policy issues.  They’d be embracing market monetarism and encouraging Trump to nominate David Beckworth to the Fed, not Herman Cain and Steve Moore.  Don’t hold your breath, as this not about getting to the truth…


#noted #weblogs 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 21, 2019)

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  1. Hakeem Jeffries: “House Dems remain focused on lowering healthcare costs. We also have a constitutional responsibility to check and balance Individual-1. We will fully investigate the culture of corruption at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave…

  2. Dan Witters: U.S. Uninsured Rate Rises to Four-Year High

  3. Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein: 15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook: “Scandals. Backstabbing. Resignations. Record profits. Time Bombs. In early 2018, Mark Zuckerberg set out to fix Facebook. Here’s how that turned out…. Zuckerberg plausibly declared that he knew nothing about Definers. Sandberg, less plausibly, did the same. Numerous people inside the company were convinced that she entirely understood what Definers did, though she strongly maintains that she did not. Meanwhile, Schrage, who had announced his resignation but never actually left, decided to take the fall. He declared that the Definers project was his fault; it was his communications department that had hired the firm, he said. But several Facebook employees who spoke with WIRED believe that Schrage’s assumption of responsibility was just a way to gain favor with Sandberg. Inside Facebook, people were furious at Sandberg, believing she had asked them to dissemble on her behalf with her Definers denials. Sandberg, like everyone, is human…

  4. Rob Price: Facebook Says It ‘Unintentionally Uploaded’ 1.5 Million People’s Email Contacts without Their Consent: “If you entered your email password, a message popped up saying it was ‘importing’ your contacts without asking for permission first. Facebook has now revealed to Business Insider that it “unintentionally” grabbed 1.5 million users’ data, and is now deleting it…

  5. Steven T. Dennis: Mitt Romney Mueller Report Reaction: ‘Sickened’ by Trump: “Senator cites ‘the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty’…. ‘I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest offices of the land, including the President’…

  6. Coming on Friday: BEA: News Release Schedule: “Gross Domestic Product, 1st quarter 2019 (advance estimate)…

  7. Matt Strassler: A Non-Expert’s Guide to a Black Hole’s Silhouette

  8. Matt Strassler: The Black Hole `Photo’: Seeing More Clearly

  9. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: Quantum Computing for the Very Curious |

  10. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How the Quantum Search Algorithm Works: “This essay is an example of what Andy Matuschak and I have dubbed a mnemonic medium–it’s like a regular essay, but incorporates new user interface elements intended to make it almost effortless for you to remember the content of the essay…

  11. Pauline Grosjean


  1. STAR WARS: Rise of Skywalker Trailer BREAKDOWN!

  2. John Preskill: Quantum Computing

  3. Matt Strassler: Of Particular Significance

  4. Wikipedia: CP violation: “The universe is made chiefly of matter, rather than consisting of equal parts of matter and antimatter as might be expected. It can be demonstrated that, to create an imbalance in matter and antimatter from an initial condition of balance, the Sakharov conditions must be satisfied, one of which is the existence of CP violation during the extreme conditions of the first seconds after the Big Bang…

  5. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: Quantum Country

  6. Mark Betnel: Thinking and Learning: “So Michael Nielsen, again, produces a thing that is amazing, in collaboration with Andy Matuschak. It’s an intro to quantum computation, with more topics to follow, with a built in ‘mnemonic medium’…

  7. Wikipedia: Controlled NOT Gate

  8. Wikipedia: Hadamard Transform: “Quantum computing applications…

  9. Gotts Roadside: Menu

  10. Ernesto Dal Bó


  1. Clive Crook pretends not to understand that Britain is a small island off the coast of Europe that will be much poorer without vibrant trade with Europe. Hence Britain is either (a) poor, (b) a member or quasi-member of the EU, or (c) a powerless rule-taker. No amount of national will spurred by Johnson’s and Farage’s desires to become prime minister can change that. Yet Crook somehow thinks or pretends to think that it can—that hard Brexit does not end in (a) or (c). I wonder why: Clive Crook: Brexit: In the End, the U.K.’s Choice Will Be Stay or Go: “There’s no point in seeking compromise when no good compromise is possible….. what many see as an appealingly soft Brexit: so-called Norway-plus…. [It] would…leave the U.K. as a powerless rule-taker…. Support for Brexit comes chiefly from resentment at Britain’s lack of control over the policies that affect it. Norway-plus would make that problem vastly worse… politics… devoted to butting heads with the EU over successive policy innovations over which it has no say…

  2. Gregory Travis: How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer: “Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old, familiar one are to blame…. This propensity to pitch up with power application thereby increased the risk that the airplane could stall when the pilots ‘punched it’…. Pitch changes with power changes are common…. Pitch changes with increasing angle of attack, however, are quite another thing. An airplane approaching an aerodynamic stall cannot, under any circumstances, have a tendency to go further into the stall. This is called ‘dynamic instability’, and the only airplanes that exhibit that characteristic—fighter jets—are also fitted with ejection seats…

  3. Mueller has referred questions of conspiracy and obstruction of justice to Congress. The natural response is that Congress now needs to open an inquiry. It might not turn out to be the prudent and savvy thing to do, depending on how things work out. It might turn out to be not just savvy and prudent but essential. We do not know. But we do know that it is what people of rectitude and sincerity would do. It needs to be done: Winston Churchill: Eulogy for Neville Chamberlain: “At the lychgate we may all pass our own conduct and our own judgments under a searching review. It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values…

  4. John Quiggin: Transactional Trumpism: “Why were so few traditional Republicans repelled by Trump… and why does Trump continue to attract such strong Republican support? One answer is… ‘transactional Trumpism’… him because of his success in delivering a traditional Republican agenda. The problem I have with this explanation is: what success? The standard items on the list are: Supreme Court appointments, tax cuts and deregulation. But (1) these things are the absolute minimum that would be expected from any Republican president (2) Trump has made a mess of all them…

  5. Oddly elusive about the politics. Yes, Congress should begin an investigation that could lead to impeachment. But Democrats in the House will not vote for a trial of Trump without 20 Republicans in the Senate willing to listen to the evidence and convict. And those Republicans do not care whether Trump has committed offenses worthy of impeachment: he has. They care whether voting to convict Trump would boost their chances of winning their next general election—or their next primary: Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic: The Mueller Report Demands an Impeachment Inquiry: “Under the current system, the options for checking a president who abuses his power to the degree that Trump has are functionally impeachment proceedings or nothing. There are many factors here, but the main culprit is the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)’s 2000 memo against the indictment of a sitting president—which itself builds on a 1973 OLC memo…. Republicans don’t want to touch the matter because the president is a member of their party…. Democrats… are worried that initiating impeachment proceedings will offer the president a rallying point for his base, and allow Republicans to paint them as fanatics out to get Trump at all costs. Besides, the thinking goes, Democratic base voters want to discuss policy issues that impact their lives, not perseverate on the many president’s sins. The problem is that impeachment isn’t a purely political matter—though certainly it is political in part. It’s a constitutional expression of the separation of powers, of Congress’s ability to check a chief executive overrunning the bounds of his power. It’s also, under the OLC memo, the only release valve in the constitutional structure for the urgent and mounting pressure of an executive who may have committed serious wrongdoing…. Though hard questions remain about whether President Trump should be impeached and whether the evidence would be sufficient for the Senate to convict him, these are not questions that need to be answered at this stage. Congress’s responsibility at this point is to begin an impeachment inquiry as a means of finding an answer to them…


#noted #weblogs 

Cosma Shalizi (2011): Dives, Lazarus, and Alice: Weekend Reading

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Weekend Reading: Cosma Shalizi (2011): “They’ve traded more for cigarettes / than I’ve managed to express”; or, Dives, Lazarus, and Alice: “Let us consider a simple economy with three individuals. Alice is a restaurateur; she has fed herself, and has just prepared a delicious turkey dinner, at some cost in materials, fuel, and her time. Dives is a wealthy conceptual artist1, who has eaten and is not hungry, but would like to buy the turkey dinner so he can “feed” it to the transparent machine he has built, and film it being “digested” and eventually excreted2. To achieve this, he is willing and able to spend up to $5000. Dives does not care, at all, about what happens to anyone else; indeed, as an exponent of art for art’s sake, he does not even care whether his film will have an audience. Huddled miserably in a corner of the gate of Dives’s condo is Lazarus, who is starving, on the brink of death, but could be kept alive for another day by eating the turkey…

…The sum total of Lazarus’s worldly possession consist of filthy rags, of no value to any one else, and one thin dime. Since, however, he is starving, there is no amount of money which could persuade Lazarus to part with the turkey, should he gain possession of it.

Assume that everyone is a rational agent, with these resources and preferences. What does economics tell us about this situation?

  1. Whatever Alice has spent preparing the turkey is a sunk cost, and irrelevant to deciding what to do next.

  2. Alice would be better of selling the turkey to either Dives or Lazarus than keeping it for herself, and either trade would also benefit the buyer, so that’s a win-win. Either trade would be Pareto-improving. However, neither trade is strictly better for everyone than the other: if she sells to Lazarus, Dives is disappointed, and if she sells to Dives, Lazarus starves. Of course, if we are being exact, Lazarus starves to death whether Alice keeps the turkey or sells it to Dives, so that trade makes Lazarus no worse off.

  3. Lazarus can only offer ten cents. Since Dives would be willing to spend up to $5000, Alice will prefer to sell to Dives. Since Dives, being a rational agent, knows how much Lazarus can pay, he will offer 11 cents, which Alice will accept as the superior offer.

The market clears, Alice is 11 cents better off, Dives enjoys a consumer surplus of $4999.89, and Lazarus starves to death in the street, clutching his dime.Nothing can be changed without making someone worse off, so this is Pareto optimal.

And so, in yet another triumph, the market mechanism has allocated a scarce resource, viz., the turkey, to its most efficient use, viz., being turned into artificial shit. What makes this the most efficient use of the scarce resource? Why, simply that it goes to the user who will pay the highest price for it. This is all that economic efficiency amounts to. It is not about meeting demand, but meeting effective demand, demand backed by purchasing power….

You may be refusing to take this seriously, objecting that I have loaded the rhetorical deck pretty blatantly—and I have! (Though not more than is customary in teaching economics.) But this is the core of Amartya Sen’s model of famines, which grows from the observation that food is often exported, at a profit, from famine-stricken regions in which people are dying of hunger. This occurs not just in cases like the USSR in the 1930s, but in impeccably capitalist situations, like British India. This happens, as Sen shows, because the hungry, while they have a very great need for food, do not have the money to buy it, or, more precisely, people elsewhere will pay more. It is thus not economically efficient to feed the hungry, so the market starves them to death.

I do not, however, want to end this on a completely gloomy note. As Sen said, the same market would feed the hungry if they could afford it, so the way to combat famines is to make sure they have money or paying work or both. (If in this country we don’t have to worry about famine, it’s because we’ve arranged things so that most of us do have those resources; we still have a hunger problem because our arrangements are imperfect.) The larger point is that while what is technologically efficient depends on facts of nature, what is economically efficient is a function of our social arrangements, of who owns how much of what. Economic efficiency may be a good tool, but it is perverse to serve your own tools, and monstrous to be ruled by them. Let us be thankful for the extent to which we escape perversion and monstrosity.


Update, 27 November: Yes, I was presuming an ascending-price auction to get a price of 11 cents. If the auctioneer uses a descending-price auction, Alice could extract up to $5000 from Dives, driving his consumer surplus to zero; Lazarus, of course, starves at any price which clears the market. No, I did not say (and do not think) that we should abolish the market and replace it with a National Turkey Allocation Board. No, Dives having orders of magnitude more money than Lazarus is not essential; Dives just needs to be willing and able to spend 11 cents….


#weekendreading #equitablegrowth #inequality 

“Unexpected Convergers” since World War II

What countries outside of those already-rich Anglo-Saxon settler colonies and the North Atlantic economies have “converged” or are “converging”. What are the “unexpected converters:? These:

 

High-Income Non-North Atlantic Convergers: Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan:

Singapore US

South Korea US

Japan US

 

Middle-Income Convergers: Mauritius, Turkey, Chile, Malaysia, Botswana, China:

Mauritius US

Turkey US

Chile US

Malaysia US

Botswana US

China US

Thailand US

 

Still-Poor Convergers: Cabo Verde, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh:

Cabo Verde US

Sri Lanka US

Indonesia US

India US

Vietnam US


#highlighted #econmicgrowth #economichistory

Amy Finkelstein

Amy Finkelstein: Welfare Analysis Meets Causal Inference: A Suggested Interpretation of Hendren: “In a pair of interconnected, important and impenetrable papers, Nathan Hendren has provided a framework for translating estimates of the causal effects of policies into welfare analyses of these policies. In this brief note, I describe the framework-which Hendren has named ‘The Marginal Value of Public Funds’ (MVPF)-and how it can be used for empirical public finance welfare analysis. I also discuss how the MVPF relates to ‘traditional’ public finance welfare analysis tools such as the marginal excess burden (MEB) and marginal cost of public funds (MCPF). Finally, I describe several recent empirical applications as a way of further illustrating and clarifying the approach…


#noted