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October 2019

Alice Dreger: Napoleon Chagnon Is Dead https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191023-dreger-chagnon: "The peer-reviewed article I ultimately published in Human Nature about the AAA task force is the angriest academic piece I have ever written.... Tierney had misrepresented so much. The chair of the AAA task force knew it too. That was Jane Hill, former president of the AAA. During my research, Sarah Hrdy shared with me a previously confidential message, dated April 15, 2002, in which Hill responded to Hrdy’s concerns about the task force’s work. 'Burn this message', Hill told Hrdy. 'The book [by Tierney] is just a piece of sleaze, that’s all there is to it (some cosmetic language will be used in the report, but we all agree on that). But I think the AAA had to do something because I really think that the future of work by anthropologists with indigenous peoples in Latin America—with a high potential to do good—was put seriously at risk by its accusations, and silence on the part of the AAA would have been interpreted as either assent or cowardice. Whether we’re doing the right thing will have to be judged by posterity.'... Of course, the failure of facts in the Darkness case extended beyond academe. If The New Yorker and W.W. Norton had done proper fact-checking, so much mischief would have been avoided. Still, the AAA made it all much worse. The AAA could have done what the National Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Human Genetics, the International Genetic Epidemiology Society, and the Society for Visual Anthropology did: looked at the facts and condemned Tierney. Instead, the AAA thanked Tierney 'for his valuable service.' A kangaroo court. A show trial. That’s how many saw the AAA investigation. The AAA membership eventually voted to rescind acceptance of the report. 'It was really amateur hour' at the AAA, Hagen told me...

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The best thing I have yet seen on how industrial organization, concentration, and monopsony drive the conclusion that increases in the minimum wage do not reduce employment in the United States today—or, rather, for which groups of workers minimum wage increases lower and for which raise employment:

José Azar, Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, Ioana Marinescu, Bledi Taska, and Till von Wachter: Minimum Wage Employment Effects and Labor Market Concentration: "Why is the employment effect of the minimum wage frequently found to be close to zero? Theory tells us that when wages are below marginal productivity, as with monopsony, employers are able to increase wages without laying off workers, but systematic evidence directly supporting this explanation is lacking. In this paper, we provide empirical support for the monopsony explanation by studying a key low-wage retail sector and using data on labor market concentration that covers the entirety of the United States with fine spatial variation at the occupation-level. We find that more concentrated labor markets–where wages are more likely to be below marginal productivity–experience significantly more positive employment effects from the minimum wage. While increases in the minimum wage are found to significantly decrease employment of workers in low concentration markets, minimum wage-induced employment changes become less negative as labor concentration increases, and are even estimated to be positive in the most highly concentrated markets. Our findings provide direct empirical evidence supporting the monopsony model as an explanation for the near-zero minimum wage employment effect documented in prior work. They suggest the aggregate minimum wage employment effects estimated thus far in the literature may mask heterogeneity across different levels of labor market concentration...

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David Glasner: What’s Wrong with DSGE Models Is Not Representative Agency https://uneasymoney.com/2019/09/16/whats-wrong-with-dsge-models-is-not-representative-agency/: "The completely ad hoc and artificial concept of a representative firm was not well-received by Marshall’s contemporaries.... The young Lionel Robbins... subjected the idea to withering criticism.... James Hartley wrote about the short and unhappy life of Marshall’s Representative Firm in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. One might have thought that the inauspicious career of Marshall’s Representative Firm would have discouraged modern macroeconomists from resurrecting the Representative Firm in the barely disguised form of a Representative Agent in their DSGE models, but the convenience and relative simplicity of solving a DSGE model for a single agent was too enticing to be resisted. Therein lies the difference between the theory of the firm and a macroeconomic theory. The gain in convenience from adopting the Representative Firm was radically reduced by Marshall’s Cambridge students and successors who, without the representative firm, provided a more rigorous, more satisfying and more flexible exposition of the industry supply curve and the corresponding partial-equilibrium analysis than Marshall had with it. Providing no advantages of realism, logical coherence, analytical versatility or heuristic intuition, the Representative Firm was unceremoniously expelled from the polite company of economists. However, as a heuristic device for portraying certain properties of an equilibrium state—whose existence is assumed not derived—even a single representative individual or agent proved to be a serviceable device with which to display the defining first-order conditions, the simultaneous equality of marginal rates of substitution in consumption and production with the marginal rate of substitution at market prices.... An excellent example of this heuristic was provided by Jack Hirshleifer in his 1970 textbook Investment, Interest, and Capital.... Here is how Hirshleifer explained what was going on:

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Comment of the Day: Grizzled https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/age-of-the-expert-as-policymaker-is-coming-to-an-end-financial-times.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dd9749200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dd9749200b in Age of the Expert as Policymaker Is Coming To an End: "Alas, I don't think it's usually possible for non-experts to evaluate expert judgements. The Reinhard and Rogoff example is more the exception than the rule. Consider the case of global warming. Google 'Conversion of a Global Warming Skeptic'. This is a case where is took 18 months of work, which was funded so it could be not only full time but assisted, for a Phd in physics to accumulate enough background to become convinced that the climate scientists had been right all along. This is not a level of investment available in the ordinary run of things. The practical question is how to pick experts to trust. I don't have a quick answer to that, other than to reject anyone associated with Republicans...

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The Berkeley History Department slavery studies group, plus David Blight on Yale, on how much of what we see as "scientific labor management" from the business side and "deskilling Taylorization" from the labor side has its roots in slaveholding society ideas of the worker as an "instrumentum mutum" in the words of Roman statesman Cato the Elder—merely a "tool that speaks": David Blight, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Caitlin Rosenthal, and Jennifer D. King: The Business of Brutality: Slavery and the Foundations of Capitalism:

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Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/10/ricardos-big-idea-and-its-vicissitudes-inet-edinburgh-comparative-advantage-panel.html:

INET Edinburgh Comparative Advantage Panel


Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes

https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0QMFGpAUFCjqhdfLULfDbLE4g

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Hoisted from the Archives: From Eight Years Ago: The Way the World Looked to Me in the Summer of 2011

Hoisted from the Archives: The Way the World Looked to Me in the Summer of 2011: Back in the summer of 2009, Barack Obama had five economic policy principals on the Treasury Bench:

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Ian Dunt: "Caroline Lucas, Green https://twitter.com/IanDunt/status/1186680346408042498: 'I want to speak out on behalf of those who do not share this govt's vision of a mean-minded little Britain, with our borders closed and our horizons narrowed. For those like me who are proud to stand up for the precious right to be able to work and study and live and love in 27 other countries, who celebrate the contribution made by the 3 million EU citizens in our country. For those who recognise that imperfect thought it undoubtedly is, the EU remains the greatest international venture for peace, prosperity and freedom in history.' Thank f--- for Caroline Lucas, man. Really...

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Ian Dunt: "Rory Stewart. Let's find out where he's at https://twitter.com/IanDunt/status/1186677364878663680: Ah, maybe a good place. 'My big beg to the House, and here I am speaking to colleagues who voted for Brexit, is let's please in these very very final stages, do it properly. This is your great founding moment. This is your opportunity to create an enormous constitutional change that can last for 40 years. So do it properly.' Stewart valiantly pointing out that he has backed Brexit deals over and over again. 'I'm not a member of this party anymore. I don't get any bonus points. But in return, people deserve scrutiny. This is a hell of a big document. I know they'll be many voices in the Chamber who say we've been talking about this long enough. We cannot think like this. This is our parliament. We cannot do down our parliament. This was an exercise in regaining the sovereignty of parliament. And if it's about regaining the sovereignty of parliament, then treat parliament with respect. If you are taking back control, then show that you are worthy to exercise that control...

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Comment of the Day: Dilbert Dogbert https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/raymond-chandler-1938-_the-red-wind_-there-was-a-desert-wind-blowing-that-night-it-was-one-of-those-hot-dry-santa.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48fd8d2200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48fd8d2200c in Santa Ana Winds: "Back in the mid 50's I spent time with my older brother in San Bernadino. His house was near the El Cajon Pass. I remember a night spent listening to the winds roaring down the pass. Next day I wandered around the area. Near his house was a new cheap development of houses without garages. Just car ports. Most of them were blown over. Another memory was going to a near by airport to check the condition of the small plane he built. As we drove in I notice a ball of aluminum in a tree. A plane came loose and ended up there. My bros plane suffered a broken spar. He was an aircraft mech so he fixed it....

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Comment of the Day: Nils https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/raymond-chandler-1938-_the-red-wind_-there-was-a-desert-wind-blowing-that-night-it-was-one-of-those-hot-dry-santa.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dc99d2200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dc99d2200bin Santa Ana Winds: "I can reliably tell you that there was a Diablo wind on October 19 and 20, 1991, which led to the severity of the Oakland Hills fire. I was out at Mt. Tamalpais that day, and when we had hiked to the north end of the mountain near the Mountain Theater we could see a long streak of smoke trailing out to sea through the Golden Gate, at 11 am. I knew a serious fire had broken out, but of course could not tell where. I feared that my car at the East Gate parking lot was being consumed by wildfire and we were all going to die (or something like that). But when we got to East Peak and looked over the bay, about 1pm, we could see flames leaping in the Oakland Hills. I stopped worrying about me and worried about my aunt and uncle who lived in the hills above Tunnel Road (they got out OK but their house was gone, foundations calcined to a pile of sand, a few blobs of melted metal all that was left of my Grandmother's silver, although the gladiolus my aunt was planting that morning mostly survived). I take this sort of weather very seriously. PG&E is right to cut power no matter how inconvenient it is. We also, though, need more independent power, especially for critical installations like hospitals, nursing homes, schools. Off-grid living is becoming more and more a matter of survival and community resilience, less a fringe movement....

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Bret Devereaux: Battle Pachyderms https://acoup.blog/2019/07/26/collections-war-elephants-part-i-battle-pachyderms/: "One reading of the (admittedly somewhat poor) evidence suggests that this is how Pyrrhus of Epirus used his elephants–to great effect–against the Romans. It is sometimes argued that Pyrrhus essentially created an ‘articulated phalanx’ using lighter infantry and elephants to cover gaps–effectively joints–in his main heavy pike phalanx line. This allowed his phalanx–normally a relatively inflexible formation–to pivot...

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Bret Devereaux Elephants Against Wolves https://acoup.blog/2019/08/02/collections-war-elephants-part-ii-elephants-against-wolves/: "The playbook for dealing with elephants was actually fairly simple in concept–Vegetius, a later Roman military writer, manages to sum up the ‘best practices’ in less than a paragraph (Vegetius 3.24). Ideally, the elephants should be met by light infantry screening troops, whose freedom of movement allows them to avoid the elephant’s charge. Those light troops – armed with missile weapons (especially javelins, but also slings) should especially target the mahouts, in an effort to panic the elephants. Ideally, a space is left open for the elephants to flee too, although ancient sources are full of examples where they were simply driven back through the enemy formation. The goal isn’t to kill the elephant, but instead to panic the animal and drive it off or–better yet–drive it through the enemy. This latter point is notable: ancient military writer after ancient military writer notes how elephants were often as much a danger to their own troops as to the enemy, especially when wounded or frightened...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-21:

  1. David Frum: Can Brexit Survive a Second Referendum? https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/can-brexit-survive-second-referendum/600382/: "[Alexander Boris de Pfeffle Johnson’s hope is to get a withdrawal agreement in place before October 31, exit by that date, and only then force an election. With Brexit then irrevocable, British voters would confront the stark single-issue choice: Johnson or Corbyn? Johnson could expect to win a five-year mandate to repair the damage he himself inflicted by Brexit...

  2. Pierre Briant (2002): _ From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire_ https://delong.typepad.com/files/briant-cyrus.pdf

  3. Susan M. Sherwin-White and Amélie Kuhrt (1993): From Samarkhand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire https://delong.typepad.com/files/samarkhand.pdf

  4. Wayne E. Lee (2016): Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History https://books.google.com/?id=hbyYCgAAQBAJ: https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/wayne-e-lee-2016-_waging-war-conflict-culture-and-innovation-in-world-history_-excerpts-when-in-1996-lawrence.html...

  5. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2012): Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty https://books.google.com/?id=2dlnBoX4licC...

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ProGrowthLiberal: Robert Barro’s Misstated Case for Federal Reserve Independence http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2019/08/barros-misstated-case-for-federal.html: "There are two aspects of his case that strike me as silly to say the least starting with his opening sentence: 'In the early 1980s, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, was able to choke off runaway inflation because he was afforded the autonomy necessary to implement steep interest-rate hikes.' This statement glosses over the fact that we had a macroeconomic mess in 1982... an ill-advised fiscal stimulus initiated the moment St. Reagan took office.... To be fair–Barro continues his magical history tour in a reasonable way until we get this absurdity: 'One could infer the normal rate from the average federal funds rate over time. Between January 1986 and August 2008, it was 4.9%, and the average inflation rate was 2.5% (based on the deflator for personal consumption expenditure), meaning that the average real rate was 2.4%'.... Barro seems to be saying the long-run real interest rate has been the same for the last 23 years. There has been a lot of research to suggest otherwise...

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Wayne E. Lee (2016): Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History https://books.google.com/?id=hbyYCgAAQBAJ, excerpts: "When in 1996 Lawrence Keeley published War Before Civilization. Keeley made an impassioned plea for reimagining the role of violence in human experience, and he made the striking claim that prestate societies experienced extreme male fatality rates. Keeley's work and additional studies have settled on the somewhat shocking estimates... [that] between 15 and 25% of males and about 5% of females" in human forager societies died from warfare. This per capita rate far exceeds those of later state-based societies. Since Keeley's work, archaeologists and anthropologists have renewed the debate begun by Hobbes and Rousseau. To use the simplest terms, as suggested in a recent review, there are the 'deep rooters', who believe in the long evolutionary history of intergroup violence, and the "inventors", who argue that human conflict emerged more recently because of changes in human social organization...

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Bret Devereaux: War Elephants https://acoup.blog/2019/07/26/collections-war-elephants-part-i-battle-pachyderms/: "Part I (this one) is going to look at how the elephant functioned in battle: how did it work as a weapon-system and why would anyone want to have it? Part II (next week) will then turn and ask the question: if elephants are such awesome weapon systems, why did the Romans defeat and then abandon them (and why did the Chinese never meaningfully adopt them)? Part III (the week after that) turns this question on its head: if elephants were as useless as the Romans thought, why did Indian kings keep using them?...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings (October 20, 2019)...

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Must of the Musts:

  • Why am I hearing "very fine people on both sides!"? here: Robert Knight: Letters · LRB: Globalists: "Alexander Zevin writes that Friedrich Hayek opposed the use of sanctions against apartheid, and ‘confided to his secretary that he liked blacks no better than Jews’ (LRB, 15 August). The antisemitic antecedents of National Socialism are conspicuous by their absence in The Road to Serfdom; if we assume the manuscript was completed in 1943, it almost completely ignores a decade of antisemitic persecution and four years of Nazi war crimes and atrocities. In the Spectator in January 1947 Hayek attacked the ‘blunders’ of denazification in Austria, including the suspension of violinists from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra because they had been Nazi party members. It was, he wrote, ‘scarcely easier to justify the prevention of a person from fiddling because he was a Nazi than the prevention because he is a Jew’...

  • BREXIT!!!!!: Hugh Mannerings: "I'm not saying there wasn't a Democratic mandate for Brexit at the time. I'm just saying if I narrowly decided to order fish at a restaurant that was known for chicken, but said it was happy to offer fish, and so far I've been waiting three hours, and two chefs who promised to cook the fish had quit, and the third one is promising to deliver the fish in the next five minutes whether it's cooked or not, or indeed still alive, and all the waiting staff have spent the last few hours arguing amongst themselves about whether I wanted battered cod, grilled salmon, jellied deals, or dolphin kebabs, and if large parts of the restaurant appeared to be on fire, but no one was paying attention to it because they were all arguing about fish, I would like, just once, to be asked if I definitely still wanted the fish...

  • Once again, we have a piece by an impressively credentialed academic Republican economists that seems to me to have... no contact with reality. There is no economist I know of save for Robert Barro who has ever said or implied that the "neutral" real interest rate today is the same 2.4% that the average real interest rate was from 1986-2008. To the contrary, there has been a very long and active discussion—led over the past two decades by current New York Fed President John Williams—about how far the "neutral" rate has fallen, and how persistent that fall will be. And one conclusion of that debate has been that the current real federal funds rate of "only 0.7%" does indeed look "high" by some important metrics. So why would anyone write as thought this literature does not exist?: Robert J. Barro: Is Politics Getting to the Fed?: "One could infer the normal rate from the average federal funds rate over time. Between January 1986 and August 2008, it was 4.9%, and the average inflation rate was 2.5%...

  • My friend Jason Furman keeps telling me that the Obama Administration sincerely sought throughout its tenure in office to boost employment in America via expansionary fiscal policy. I agree that Jason did. But the administration? No. When Jason and company could win internal fights, yes. But otherwise the Obama Administration seemed to me to be focused on winning the day's media narrative, and if dingbat kabuki moves that were destructive of employment growth could attain that daily goal, they were gleefully and joyfully embraced—even if they were pointlessly cruel to those4 on whom the success of the Obama Administration rested. For example: Jack Lew (November 29, 2010): Tightening Our Belts https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/11/29/tightening-our-belts: "The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees.... This pay freeze is not a reflection on their fine work. It is a reflection of the fiscal reality that we face: just as families and businesses across the nation have tightened their belts, so must the federal government...

  • There have been many disruptions of the functioning of the discursive public sphere by new communications technologies. The most recent significant one was the early-twentieth century disruption by radio. The very sharp and witty Maciej Ceglowski provides us with a brief introduction: Maciej Ceglowski: Legends of the Ancient Web: "It doesn't take long for politically talented people to discover how to use radio for their own ends. One of these early pioneers in the United States is Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest and early religious broadcaster who notices that his angry rants on political topics net him a much bigger audience than his discourses on religion. By the middle of the 1930's, Coughlin has an active audience of ten million tuning in to hear him rail against against bankers and international conspiracies, in a way that sounds uncomfortably familiar in 2017. Here's Father Coughlin at the top of his game, yelling about banks...

  • Project Syndicate: No, We Don’t “Need” a Recession https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/no-we-dont-need-a-recession-by-j-bradford-delong-project-syndicate.html: "It was not uncommon for commentators to argue for a “needed” recession before the big one hit in 2008-2010. But I, for one, assumed that this claim was a decade dead. Who in 2019 could say with a straight face that a recession and high unemployment under conditions of low inflation would be a good thing? Apparently, I was wrong. The argument turns out to be an example of what Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman calls a “zombie idea … that should have died long ago in the face of evidence or logic, but just keeps shambling forward, eating peoples’ brains.” Clearly, those who claim to welcome recessions have never looked at the data. If they did, they would understand that beneficial structural changes to the economy occur during booms, not during busts...

  • Hoisted from the Archives from 2010: Perhaps. And Sometimes https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/perhaps-and-sometimes-cato-unbound.html: That Sherwood Forest is illegible to the Sheriff of Nottingham allows Robin of Locksley and Maid Marian to survive. But that is just a stopgap. In the final reel of Ivanhoe the fair Rebecca must be rescued from the unworthy rogue Templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert (and packed offstage to marry some young banker or rabbi), the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne must receive their comeuppance, the proper property order of Nottinghamshire must be restored, and Wilfred must marry the fair Rowena–and all this is accomplished by making Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire legible to the true king, Richard I “Lionheart” Plantagenet, and then through his justice and good lordship...

  • Comment of the Day: Harold Carmel on March of the Peacocks https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_harold-carmel_-in-paul-krugman-march-of-the-peacocks-as-prof-delong-has-often-pointed-out-obam.html: "Obama's turn toward austerity in that SOTU was a very dumb policy idea.... Obama presented himself as post-partisan and thought the Republicans would reciprocate. How did that work out?...

  • Comment of the Day: Phil Koop on Quantum Supremacy https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_phil-koop_-on-quantum-supremacy-in-reply-to-kaleberg-your-objection-is-mistaken-as-scott-aaronso.html: "Scott Aaronson explains: 'You don’t get to arbitrarily redefine whatever random chemical you find in the wild to be a “computer for simulating itself.” Under any sane definition, the superconducting devices that Google, IBM, and others are now building are indeed “computers”...

  • Comment of the Day: _Ebenezer Scrooge on Stanford Week: _ https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_ebenezer-scrooge_-in-stanford-week-the-formula-for-succeeding-as-an-undergrad-at-an-enormous-stat.html: "The formula for succeeding as an undergrad at an enormous state university is to pretend you're a grad student, and dive into a department full time. You're likely to get a decent mentor and adequate support, so you can ignore the bureaucratic madness...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-20:

Zamzar: File Conversion Made Easy https://www.zamzar.com/...

Josiah Ober (2009): Epistemic democracy in Classical Athens: Sophistication, Diversity, and Innovation https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/ober/080901.pdf: "Analysis of democracy in Athens as an 'epistemic' (knowledge-based) form of political and social organization. Adapted from Ober, Democracy and Knowledge, chapters 1-4...

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Arthur Eckstein: Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome: "Thus Rome went to war for a city that no longer existed, and Carthage went to war for a political figure whom many Punic aristocrats distrusted. But beneath this apparently irrational conduct on both sides lay deep issues of pride, honor, and security. The Romans wanted their will obeyed, as had happened in 238/237—and the Carthaginians were adamant in refusing to obey another state’s will, in good part because of previous incidents with Rome, probably mixed now with new confidence from their Spanish conquests and resources (Polyb. 3.14.9–10: explicit). We must, of course, leave room for badly judged, vacillating, and even incoherent human decision making in the course of the crisis of 220–218. The purpose of the new Punic empire in Spain was to enhance the military and financial capability of Carthage and thus change the balance of power—but this need not have led to war with Rome. If Hannibal had agreed to leave Saguntum alone—and it was a small place—the Punic conquest of Spain might have continued unimpeded in other directions for years, with the balance of power continuing to shift, and Rome ever less able to impose her will. That was Polybius’s impression...

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It is a very curious thing that pre-industrial societies were, by and large, about as unequal in terms of relative income as we are today. It does suggest that something like Vilfredo Pareto's Iron Law is operating, although how it could operate is beyond me. And it does suggest that Piketty was correct in his fear that the post-WWII trentes glorieuses age of social democracy was a fragile anomaly. This, however, fits less well with Piketty's current argument that our current second gilded age was generated by the descent of the center-right into neofascism and the descent of the center-left into cultural liberalism as it took its eye off the important ball that is the distribution of wealth and hence of social power. It is also worthy noting that pre-industrial inequality was much more vicious than modern inequality: push pre-industrial inequality up by an additional fifth or more, and large numbers of people start dying from malnutrition: Branko Milanovic, Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson: Pre-Industrial Inequality https://delong.typepad.com/pre-industrial-inequality.pdf: "Is inequality largely the result of the Industrial Revolution? Or, were pre-industrial incomes as unequal as they are today? This article infers inequality across individuals within each of the 28 pre-industrial societies, for which data were available, using what are known as social tables. It applies two new concepts: the inequality possibility frontier and the inequality extraction ratio. They compare the observed income inequality to the maximum feasible inequality that, at a given level of income, might have been 'extracted' by those in power. The results give new insights into the connection between inequality and economic development in the very long run...

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There have been many disruptions of the functioning of the discursive public sphere by new communications technologies. The most recent significant one was the early-twentieth century disruption by radio. The very sharp and witty Maciej Ceglowski provides us with a brief introduction:

Maciej Ceglowski: Legends of the Ancient Web: "It doesn't take long for politically talented people to discover how to use radio for their own ends. One of these early pioneers in the United States is Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest and early religious broadcaster who notices that his angry rants on political topics net him a much bigger audience than his discourses on religion. By the middle of the 1930's, Coughlin has an active audience of ten million tuning in to hear him rail against against bankers and international conspiracies, in a way that sounds uncomfortably familiar in 2017. Here's Father Coughlin at the top of his game, yelling about banks...

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This catches the wise David Adler's attention. Indeed, Wolfgang Streeck's socialism is a very particular and grinchy and, indeed, nationalsocialism. I first saw this back in 1993-1994 in the NAFTA wars, when too many on the left seemed to think they could mobilize white supremacy and fear of hispanics to the service of social-democratic equitable-growth goals. Back then I thought "it really does not work that way". Indeed it does not. But people keep trying:

David Adler: But Jesus Christ Wolfgang Streeck Really Hates Migrants:

Wolfgang Streeck: Progressive Regression: "As governed by 'European' or international law, immigration may also function in essence as social policy. The arrival of unskilled workers may undermine collective bargaining in low-wage sectors, to the extent that it still exists; it may also increase income inequality. In the process, it may furthermore weaken public perceptions of poverty and inequality as a problem—and, indeed, allow opponents of social protection to declare acceptance of domestic inequality a commandment of global solidarity with the 'really poor'. Immigration may also exert pressure on social-assistance budgets while weakening the willingness of citizens to be taxed for them, as a growing share of the expenditure may be going to newly arriving non-citizens. There is some evidence from Sweden that immigration can give rise to local educational segregation, as middle- and upper-class parents extract their offspring from schools that educate the children of immigrants and send them to more selective institutions...

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Perhaps the most interesting thing to happen in political economy over the summer was the American Business Roundtable's declaration that it no longer believed in "shareholder primacy". "Shareholder primacy" is the doctrine that a corporation's managers have a twofold and only twofold duty: (1) obey the law, and (2) maximize the stock market value possessed by its shareholders. All other considerations are, according to "shareholder primacy" not the proper business of the corporation: rather, they are the business of the government officials who make the laws and write the regulations to enforce them, the politicians who compete to boss the government officials, and the voters who elect them. The alternative view was always that shareholders were just one of the groups of stakeholders, albeit one of the most important groups by virtue of their status as residual claimants and their powers to choose corporate officers, whose interests were to be advanced and balanced. Here my old teacher Mike Spence has smart things to say about the possible advantageous consequences that opening the door to the possibility of moving away from "shareholder primacy" might produce:

Michael Spence: The End of Shareholder Primacy? https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/shareholder-vs-multi-stakeholder-model-by-michael-spence-2019-08: "An even more exciting feature of the shift toward socially conscious corporate governance is that it opens the door for new, more creative business models.... Alibaba [was founded with the goal of expanding market access for small and medium-size companies... [and] remain[s] committed.... Mukesh Ambani... identified Reliance’s stakeholders as the 'Indian economy, Indian people, our customers, employees, and shareowners'.... Digital technologies tend to come with high fixed costs, but low to negligible variable costs. Once established, a firm like Alibaba or Jio can thus provide a platform for countless other business models built around social objectives. And this effect is especially powerful in potentially large markets like China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and the United States. The Business Roundtable’s recent declaration represents a major step forward for the multi-stakeholder model. The example set by industry leaders matters. And it is no accident that some of today’s most successful global companies were explicitly conceived and built on the basis of multi-stakeholder values...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/richard-grabowski-2002-_east-asia-land-reform-and-economic-development_-in-trying-to-explain-the-economic-success.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dbfad3200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dbfad3200bre "It is hard for an economist using an economic perspective to understand why landlords or the landed elite would have an innate tendency to be an obstacle to long-run economic development": "Because they're in a position of power and seriously dependent on things not changing. Farms are a big lump of capital, but it's relatively static capital; you can't change your type of output on anything less than multi-year timescales, and that involves a lot of liquid capital you don't generally have. So a landed aristocracy with its income and relative social position dependent on having got their static capital just so does not want change and will do what it can to prevent such a thing. (The US does not lack for examples.) Consider the views of canal owner/operators with respect to railroads from 1840 through about 1860 in the US; the canal is an analogous type of capital...

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My friend Jason Furman keeps telling me that the Obama Administration sincerely sought throughout its tenure in office to boost employment in America via expansionary fiscal policy. I agree that Jason did. But the administration? No. When Jason and company could win internal fights, yes. But otherwise the Obama Administration seemed to me to be focused on winning the day's media narrative, and if dingbat kabuki moves that were destructive of employment growth could attain that daily goal, they were gleefully and joyfully embraced—even if they were pointlessly cruel to those4 on whom the success of the Obama Administration rested. For example:

Jack Lew (November 29, 2010): Tightening Our Belts https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/11/29/tightening-our-belts: "To lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and to make our nation competitive for years to come, we must put the United States back on a sustainable fiscal course. And that’s going to require some tough choices. Today, the President made one of those: proposing a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal workers. This will save  2 billion over the remainder of this fiscal year, 28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years, and more than 60 billion over the next 10 years. The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense – but not military personnel.... Make no mistake: this decision was not made lightly. Like everyone honored to serve in the White House or the Cabinet, we work with extraordinarily talented public servants every day.... Indeed, anyone who has flown safely, enjoyed our national parks, received a Pell grant to go to college, or relied on a Social Security check to retire in dignity has benefited from the service of federal workers. This pay freeze is not a reflection on their fine work. It is a reflection of the fiscal reality that we face: just as families and businesses across the nation have tightened their belts, so must the federal government...

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Once again, we have a piece by an impressively credentialed academic Republican economists that seems to me to have... no contact with reality. There is no economist I know of save for Robert Barro who has ever said or implied that the "neutral" real interest rate today is the same 2.4% that the average real interest rate was from 1986-2008. To the contrary, there has been a very long and active discussion—led over the past two decades by current New York Fed President John Williams—about how far the "neutral" rate has fallen, and how persistent that fall will be. And one conclusion of that debate has been that the current real federal funds rate of "only 0.7%" does indeed look "high" by some important metrics. So why would anyone write as thought this literature does not exist?:

Robert J. Barro: Is Politics Getting to the Fed?: "From the early 1980s until the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, the US Federal Reserve seemed to have a coherent process for adjusting its main short-term interest rate, the federal funds rate. Its policy had three key components: the nominal interest rate would rise by more than the rate of inflation; it would increase in response to a strengthening of the real economy; and it would tend toward a long-term normal value. Accordingly, one could infer the normal rate from the average federal funds rate over time. Between January 1986 and August 2008, it was 4.9%, and the average inflation rate was 2.5%.... The Fed’s prolonged low-interest-rate policy, which was supplemented by quantitative easing (QE), seems misguided, considering that the economy had long since recovered, at least in terms of the unemployment rate. The nominal federal funds rate was not placed on an upward trajectory until the end of 2016.... It is hard to view today’s nominal federal funds rate of 2.4% as high. With an inflation rate of 1.7%, the real federal funds rate is only 0.7%. And yet the Fed’s “high”-interest-rate policy was fiercely attacked by Wall Street.... That view is not crazy if you are focused solely on boosting the stock market. On average, interest-rate cuts do tend to stimulate the stock market by making real returns on bonds less competitive. But that does not mean it is good economic policy always to be cutting rates...

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Alan Levin and Ryan Beene: Boeing Pilot Expressed Worries About 737 Max Safety in 2016 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-18/faa-says-boeing-was-tardy-in-turning-over-737-max-evidence?srnd=premium: "FAA chief, in letter, demands explanation from planemaker. Pilots were alarmed by performance of MCAS feature on jet: The November 2016 instant messages, which were reviewed by Bloomberg News, were exchanges between Mark Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the 737, and another 737 technical pilot, Patrik Gustavsson. In the messages, Forkner described his alarm at simulator tests in which he encountered troubling behavior of the automated flight control system implicated in the two fatal crashes. Boeing had earlier assured the aviation regulator that the feature known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System was benign and didn’t need to be included in the plane’s flight manuals, according to a person familiar with the issue. Forkner told Gustavsson that MCAS was 'running rampant in the sim on me', referring to simulator tests of the aircraft. Forkner expressed concern that he may have unknowingly misled the FAA. 'So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)', he wrote.... 'I’m levelling [sic] off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy [sic]', Forkner said. 'I’m like, WHAT?'... After Forkner said he was concerned about misleading regulators, Gustavsson replied that 'it wasn’t a lie, no one told us that was the case'. 'I don’t know, the test pilots have kept us out of the loop', Gustavsson said. Forkner replied, 'they’re all so damn busy, and getting pressure from the program'...

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Wikipedia: Ragnar Lodbrok https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_Lodbrok: "According to traditional sources, Ragnar (possibly as a literary composite) was: (a) married three times, to the shieldmaiden Lagertha, the noblewoman Thóra Borgarhjǫrtr and Aslaug (also known as Kráka, Kraba), a Norse queen; (b) the father of historical Viking figures including Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Hvitserk, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Ubba; (c) captured by King Ælla of Northumbria and died after Ælla had him thrown into a pit of snakes; and (d) avenged by the Great Heathen Army that invaded and occupied Northumbria and adjoining Anglo-Saxon kingdoms...

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On the Word "Growth"...

Thor_and_Loki

"Growth" is a word borrowed from the Norse groði, the process of vegetation becoming green and becoming larger. In the later 800s, you see, England was invaded by an army of Danes. This Great Heathen Army's leaders wanted to avenge the execution by being thrown into a pit of poisonous snakes of their father Ragnar Lothbrok—Ragnar "Furry Pants", supposedly because he had successfully fought a giant snake while wearing furry pants that the snake could not bite through. The sons of Ragnar were: Ivar the Boneless (or Legless?), Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Halfdan Ragnarsson King of Dublin, Hvitserk, and Ubba. (Halfdan and Hvitserk may have been the same person—Hvitserk means "white shirt" and would thus be much more appropriate as a nickname like "Boneless", "Ironside" or "Snake-in-the-Eye".

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Wikipedia: Danelaw https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danelaw#Establishment_of_Danish_self-rule: "as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the Danes held sway[2] and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. Danelaw contrasts with West Saxon law and Mercian law. The term is first recorded in the early 11th century as Dena lage. Modern historians have extended the term to a geographical designation. The areas that constituted the Danelaw lie in northern and eastern England. The Danelaw originated from the Viking expansion of the 9th century, although the term was not used to describe a geographic area until the 11th century. With the increase in population and productivity in Scandinavia, Viking warriors, having sought treasure and glory in the nearby British Isles, 'proceeded to plough and support themselves', in the words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 876. Danelaw can describe the set of legal terms and definitions created in the treaties between the King of Wessex, Alfred the Great, and the Danish warlord, Guthrum, written following Guthrum's defeat at the Battle of Edington in 878...

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Comment of the Day: Meno https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/eg-a-growing-problem-in-real-estate-too-many-too-big-houses-wsj.html: "Occasionally you post something like this that reminds us how foreign the USA is to some of us. Mansions, that we get. Rock stars and film moguls need to live somewhere, with their minders, crew, and hangers-on. 2,000 square foot “shacks” at the beach that stand empty most of the year-sure. Lawyers’ families gotta go somewhere on the weekend to take the boat out. It’s the McMansions that are odd. Who the heck buys a 7-bedroom 8,000 square foot house? And why? What does a couple do with all that space? It’s not the price, it’s the size...

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Comment of the Day: Maurits Pino https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/eg-a-growing-problem-in-real-estate-too-many-too-big-houses-wsj.html: "Housing & life cycle needs are badly adjusted. We either need to move more or have a better functioning rental market. Small kids: Need: a garden. Get: apartment/too small house. Big kids: Need: mobility for the kids (city centre/public transport). Get: a house with a garden. Post kids: Same as previous but smaller. Time for music, cinema etc. Get: a house with a garden, half empty. Or perhaps an even bigger one. Retired: Need: A place in nature & a studio in town for culture. At least as long as living independently. Get: a house with garden. Still half empty but now a bit run down. First floor unused because of the stairs...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-18:

  1. USGS: M 4.5 - 1km SSE of Pleasant Hill, CA https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/nc73291880/oaf/commentary: "2019-10-15 05:33:42 (UTC)37.938°N 122.058°W 14.6 km depth...

  2. Cosma Shalizi: 36-401, Modern Regression http://www.stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/mreg/15/: "This course is an introduction to the real world of statistics and data analysis. We will explore real data sets, examine various models for the data, assess the validity of their assumptions, and determine which conclusions we can make (if any). Data analysis is a bit of an art; there may be several valid approaches. We will strongly emphasize the importance of critical thinking about the data and the question of interest. Our overall goal is to use a basic set of modeling tools to explore and analyze data and to present the results in a scientific report.... This is a class on linear statistical models: the oldest, most widely used, and mathematically simplest sort of statistical model. It serves as a first course in serious data analysis, as an introduction to statistical modeling and prediction, and as an initiation into a community of inquiry which has developed over two centuries and grown to include every branch of science, technology and policy...

  3. Cosma Shalizi and Andrew Thomas: 36-350, Statistical Computing http://www.stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/statcomp/14/: "Computational data analysis is an essential part of modern statistics. Competent statisticians must not just be able to run existing programs, but to understand the principles on which they work. They must also be able to read, modify and write code, so that they can assemble the computational tools needed to solve their data-analysis problems, rather than distorting problems to fit tools provided by others.... The class may be unbearably redundant for those who already know a lot about programming. The class will be utterly incomprehensible for those who do not know statistics...

  4. Cosma Shalizi: Syllabus for 36-402, Undergraduate Advanced Data Analysis https://www.stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/uADA/17/: "We will build on the theory and applications of the linear model, introduced in 36-401, extending it to more general functional forms, and more general kinds of data, emphasizing the computation-intensive methods introduced since the 1980s. After taking the class, when you're faced with a new data-analysis problem, you should be able to (1) select appropriate methods, (2) use statistical software to implement them, (3) critically evaluate the resulting statistical models, and (4) communicate the results of your analyses to collaborators and to non-statisticians. During the class, you will do data analyses with existing software, and write your own simple programs to implement and extend key techniques. You will also have to write reports about your analyses...

  5. Vivaldi https://vivaldi.com/: "The browser that puts you in control...

  6. Joe Studwell (2013): How Asia Works: Success And Failure In The Worlds Most Dynamic Region https://delong.typepad.com/files/studwell.pdf

  7. Mark C. Berger and Barry T. Hirsch (1983): The Civilian Earnings Experience of Vietnam—Era Veterans https://delong.typepad.com/files/civilian-earnings.pdf...

  8. Richard R Bryant, V. A Samaranayake, and Allen Wilhite (1993): The Effect of Military Service on the Subsequent Civilian Wage of the Post-Vietnam Veteran https://delong.typepad.com/files/vietnam-veterans.pdf...

  9. Joshua D. Angrist (1990): Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records https://delong.typepad.com/files/draft-lottery.pdf...

  10. BAHA: High-Peaked Colonial Revival

  11. Wolf: GR304 Range https://www.consumerreports.org/products/pro-style-ranges/wolf-gr304-226337/overview/

  12. Wikipedia: John R. Allen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Allen...

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260,000 people in Buncombe County, NC—Asheville. That is 60,000 households, low which perhaps 40 are in the nationwide top 0.1% with an income of 1.6 million a year or more. That is, I am told, the range in which one should perhaps start thinking about whether one wants an 8,000 square-foot house as one of one's items of conspicuous consumption. And such things sell slowly. So the thing that amazes me is not that the inventory of houses priced at more than two million in Asheville is twice annual turnover, but that 16 houses sold in that price range in grater Asheville last year. It's an index of plutocracy:

Candace Taylor: A Growing Problem in Real Estate: Too Many Too Big Houses: "Baby boomers and retirees built large, elaborate dream homes across the Sunbelt—only to find that few people want to buy them.... Elaborate, five or six-bedroom houses in warm climates, fueled in part by the easy credit of the real estate boom. Many baby boomers poured millions into these spacious homes, planning to live out their golden years in houses with all the bells and whistles. Now, many boomers are discovering that these large, high-maintenance houses no longer fit their needs as they grow older, but younger people aren’t buying them.... The problem is especially acute in areas with large clusters of retirees. In North Carolina’s Buncombe County, which draws retirees with its mild climate and Blue Ridge Mountain scenery, there are 34 homes priced over $2 million on the market, but only 16 sold in that price range in the past year, said Marilyn Wright, an agent at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Asheville...

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Sandy Li: ‘Golden Week’ Property Sales Plunge in Major Chinese Cities Amid Slowing Economy, Tight Mortgage Conditions https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3032030/golden-week-property-sales-plunge-major-chinese-cities-amid-slowing: "Sales of new homes in Beijing dropped to their lowest level since 2014 during the week following the National Day holiday. The seven-day holiday is traditionally a peak period for home sales.... Sales of new homes in Beijing dropped to their lowest level since 2014 during the week following the National Day holiday, according to data from the property information portal Zhuge.com.... Traditionally a peak period for sales, the seven-day holiday drew little interest from buyers who were unwilling to pursue big investments at a time when the national economy faces a slowdown caused by the trade war with the United States. Buyers’ appetite was further depleted by banks tightening mortgage loans and Beijing’s tougher measures to curb home prices.... Just 190 transactions were recorded in the primary residential market in Beijing during the golden week, down 19 per cent from 2018. In the secondary market, 41 used homes had changed hands, the second poorest golden week sales performance in the capital in the past five years...

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Nathan Lane: Manufacturing Revolutions: Industrial Policy and Networks in South Korea https://delong.typepad.com/lane-korea.pdf: "This paper uses a historic big push intervention and newly digitized data from South Korea to study the effects of industrial policy on (short- and long-run) industrial development. In 1973 South Korea transitioned to a military dictatorship and drastically changed their development strategy. I find industries targeted by the regime’s big push grew significantly more than non-targeted industries along several key dimensions of industrial development. These developmental effects persisted after industrial policies were retrenched, following the 1979 assassination of the president. Furthermore, I estimate the spillovers of the industrial policies using exogenous variation in the exposure to the policy across the input-output network. I find evidence of persistent pecuniary externalities like those posited by big push development theorists, such as Albert Hirschman. In other words, I find that South Korea’s controversial industrial policy was successful in producing industrial development, the benefits of which persisted through time and in industries not directly targeted by the policies...

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Genetic counsellor Claude Mordan, an early Heinlein character, waxes enthusiastic about the real point of an armed society—ot improve the breed by killing off the unalert, the weak, the stupid, those who are not quick with their hands, and those who are not quick with their wits, and so improve the breed.

Note that early Heinlein's authorial stand-in Hamilton Felix does not think much of this argument:

Robert A. Heinlein (1948): Beyond This Horizon https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1625793146: "'An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization. That’s a personal evaluation only. But gun-fighting has a strong biological use. We do not have enough things that kill off the weak and the stupid these days. But to stay alive as an armed citizen a man has to be either quick with his wits or with his hands, preferably both. It’s a good thing...

...“Maybe so,” Felix answered slowly, “but it does seem like there ought to be a better way to do it. This way is pretty sloppy. Sometimes the bystanders get burned.”

“The alert ones don’t,” Mordan pointed out...

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Comment of the Day: Yes. Exactly. Humans are way too prone to attribute human-level intelligence to whatever they are interacting with. Perhaps it has (had?) an evolutionary benefit, but it is a great obstacle to clear and correct thought:

Tracy Lightcap https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/superintelligence-the-idea-that-eats-smart-people.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48c7daf200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48c7daf200cin Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People: "I think the actual problem here is that a lot of intelligent people want to believe that computers aren't machines. They appear so … well, life-like. They can do calculations and comparisons faster then we can. That must mean that, in the long term, they'll become as intelligent as we are or even more! It stands to reason! No, it doesn't. A computer isn't all that much different from a Jacard loom. They are very sophisticated artifacts of human intelligence and they can do what we program them to do. Nothing more, though certainly nothing less. We can program them to mimic some of the trappings of intelligence if we'd like, but that's very different from saying that a machine can think. They can't, largely because they can't discern meaning in their ourput. That'll never change. Our problem isn't that computers will develop super intelligence; it's that we have such a hard time figuring out how to integrate them into our work. That is very slowly happening and we can count on some real snafus alongtheu way. That should scare us...

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Wikipedia: Lester C. Hunt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_C._Hunt: "Lester Callaway Hunt, Sr. (July 8, 1892 – June 19, 1954), was a Democratic politician and dentist from the state of Wyoming. Hunt was the first to be elected to two consecutive terms as Wyoming's governor, serving as its 19th Governor from January 4, 1943, to January 3, 1949. In 1948, he was elected by an overwhelming margin to the U.S. Senate, and began his term on January 3, 1949. Hunt supported a number of federal social programs and advocated for federal support of low-cost health and dental insurance policies. He also supported a variety of programs proposed by the Eisenhower administration following the Republican landslide in the 1952 elections, including the abolition of racial segregation in the District of Columbia, and the expansion of Social Security. An outspoken opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign, Hunt challenged McCarthy and his senatorial allies by championing a proposed law restricting Congressional immunity and allowing individuals to sue members of Congress for slanderous statements. In June 1953, Hunt's son was arrested in Washington, D.C., on charges of soliciting sex with an undercover male police officer. (Homosexual acts were prohibited by law at the time.) Several Republican senators, including McCarthy, threatened Hunt with prosecution of his son and wide publication of the event unless he abandoned plans to run for re-election and resigned immediately, which Hunt refused to do. His son was convicted and fined on October 6, 1953. On April 15, 1954, Hunt announced his intention to run for re-election. He changed his mind, however, after McCarthy renewed the threat to use his son's arrest against him. On June 19, 1954, Hunt committed suicide in his Senate office; the suicide dealt a serious blow to McCarthy's image...

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Comment of the Day: Nathanael: Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/speech-to-20th-congress-of-the-cpsu.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4e033e1200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4e033e1200b: "Xi's triumph over the Chinese Central Committee also heralds an era of failure, incompetence, and self destruction similar to the Stalinist era in that it is a worthless cult of the individual. China did quite well during the 'no prominent individual' period after Deng ... That is over...

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What return does John Tamny get for shilling for Elizabeth Holmes, and why is he so eager to do so?: John Tamny: Elizabeth Holmes Is a Visionary, and We Need More Like Her https://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2019/10/14/elizabeth_holmes_is_a_visionary_and_we_need_more_like_her_103946.html: "The analysis that you’re about to read, it's mine.... No interviews were conducted.... I live in the same apartment building as Holmes’s parents, and consider them friends. I've also briefly spoken with Elizabeth Holmes a few times.... I venerate the risk takers whose intrepid ways vastly improve our living standards.... The Wright brothers owned a bike shop as opposed to college degrees from some well-regarded school of engineering, Thomas Edison had no formal education beyond the 8th grade, and then Steve Jobs was a Reed College dropout. But the arguably more important truth is that most advances are hatched by people outside the industry about to be transformed.... Holmes’s hiring of the best she could find was an explicit admission by the entrepreneur that there were limits to her knowledge that she would strive to make up for through brilliant recruitment.... A popular narrative that’s taken hold about a 'fraudulent' Theranos having made false claims about its technology. Not so fast.... She was willing to fail publicly.... Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were cars, airplanes or internet-capable computers. Theranos, like any other corporation aiming to do something truly different, was going to have to fail a lot to get to success..... While Holmes was plainly and understandably not eager to shout the initial shortcomings of Theranos technology to all who would listen, it’s not as though she was going out of her way to bury mistakes without addressing them. Quite the opposite. Some will point to Theranos’s utilization of third party equipment, along with actual needles on occasion in order to complete blood tests, but this too was yet further evidence that accuracy of testing mattered; that Theranos would make up for the initial shortcomings of the Edison and miniLab analyzers until they could stand on their own.... So much of Bad Blood struck this reader as innuendo.... That the technology 'didn’t always work' means it sometimes did.... It’s quite simply not news that Thernanos technology was buggy.... Which brings us to Theranos not making it. Carreyrou comes to the not-terribly-novel conclusion that 'Holmes and her company had overpromised and then cut corners when they couldn’t deliver'.... Stressing average doesn’t work when raising funds for a technology company.... Some will respond that the responsible thing for Holmes et al to have done would have been to tap the brakes as it were, to moderate expectations in consideration of the company’s audacious vision, to underpromise. Much easier said than done.... One senses that some of Holmes’s biggest critics have never run a start-up, let alone a business.... Which brings us to Elizabeth Holmes.... Seemingly forgotten by the eternally smug is that per serial business founder and investor Carl Schramm, capitalistic progress is 'messy', and it’s the stuff of individuals willing to energetically pursue that which is roundly rejected by the existing order. Crucial is that these people are very necessary.... It’s time to end the witch hunts meant to quiet the minds and actions of those who want to force the change without which there is no progress...

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Comment of the Day: Ebenezer Scrooge https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/hoisted-from-teh-archives-from-2006-tightwad-hill.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4d96d9c200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4d96d9c200b in Stanford Week: "The formula for succeeding as an undergrad at an enormous state university is to pretend you're a grad student, and dive into a department full time. You're likely to get a decent mentor and adequate support, so you can ignore the bureaucratic madness. Of course, they also say that about Harvard. On a personal note, the only smart decision I made as an adolescent was to attend Brown to study physics, rather than MIT. Life was a lot easier at Brown when I realized I was not one of the people to whom physics was always "intuitively obvious." My parents were a bit disappointed, since they had heard of MIT but not Brown. But, as wise parents, they deferred to me...

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Perhaps. And Sometimes: Hoisted from the Archives from 2010

Empres_s_Theodora

Hoisted from the Archives: Perhaps. And Sometimes https://www.cato-unbound.org/2010/09/16/j-bradford-delong/perhaps-sometimes: In 542 AD the late Roman (early Byzantine?) Emperor Justinian I wrote to his Praetorian Prefect concerning the army — trained and equipped and paid for by the Roman State to control the barbarians and to “increase the state.” Justinian was, Peter Sarris reports in his Economy and Society in the Age of Justinian, upset that:

certain individuals had been daring to draw away soldiers and foederati from their duties, occupying such troops entirely with their own private business…. The emperor… prohibit[ed] such individuals from drawing to themselves or diverting troops… having them in their household… on their property or estates…. [A]ny individual who, after thirty days, continues to employ soldiers to meet his private needs and does not return them to their units will face confiscation of property… “and those soldiers and foederati who remain in paramonar attendance upon them… will not only be deprived of their rank, but also undergo punishments up to and including capital punishment.

Justinian is worried because what is going on in the country he rules is not legible to him. Soldiers — soldiers whom he has trained, equipped, and paid for — have been hired away from their frontier duties by the great landlords of the Empire and employed on their estates and in the areas they dominate as bully-boys. One such great landlord was Justinian’s own sometime Praefectus Praetorio per Orientem Flavius Apion, to whom one of Flavius’s tenants and debtors, one Anoup, wrote:

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-15:

  1. Astro 3D: Not Long Ago, the Center of the Milky Way Exploded https://phys.org/news/2019-10-center-milky.html: "A titanic, expanding beam of energy sprang from close to the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way just 3.5 million years ago, sending a cone-shaped burst of radiation through both poles of the Galaxy and out into deep space.... The phenomenon, known as a Seyfert flare, created two enormous 'ionisation cones' that sliced through the Milky Way—beginning with a relatively small diameter close to the black hole, and expanding vastly as they exited the Galaxy. So powerful was the flare that it impacted on the Magellanic Stream—a long trail of gas extending from nearby dwarf galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds...

  2. Henry Fielding (1749(: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6593/6593-h/6593-h.htm...

  3. Aaron Carroll: Five Reasons the Diet Soda Myth Won’t Die https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/upshot/diet-soda-health-myths.html?te=1&nl=the-upshot&emc=edit_up_20191014?campaign_id=29&instance_id=13061&segment_id=17867&user_id=744e123caca9fa6942a2af37a0645716&regi_id=1775010: "Repeated studies on a health bogeyman help explain wider problems with food research.... It would probably be a public service if we stopped repeating a lot of this research—and stopped reporting on it breathlessly. If that’s impossible, the best people can do is stop paying so much attention...

  4. Wikipedia: Aldo Raimondi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Raimondi...

  5. Wikipedia: Castel dell'Ovo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_dell%27Ovo...

  6. What to see and what to do in the Gulf of Naples https://www.visitnaples.eu/en/neapolitanity/discover-naples/what-to-see-and-what-to-do-in-the-gulf-of-naples...

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