#noted Feed

UC Hastings Professor, Academic Leaders Call for Support of AB5: "A letter calling on the U.S. Senate to support AB5, a law that would force the gig economy giants like Uber and Lyft to classify its workers as employees instead of independent contractors.... 'We write as academics (including law professors, labor economists, political scientists, sociologists, and historians) from across the country who have studied the intersections of law, regulation, misclassification, the platform economy, and/or precarious work. As a legal matter, we unequivocally support the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) and AB5, the legislative effort to make employee-status the default under state law and to codify the ABC test…We oppose attempts to carve gig workers out', the letter reads...

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That Uber is so exercised about being treated as an employer suggests that a substantial part of its hopes for profitability hinge on its successfully running a let's-make-someone-else-pay-for-our-workers'-social-insurance game:

Bloomberg Daily Labor Report: Uber Hit With $650 Million Employment Tax Bill in New Jersey https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/uber-hit-with-650-million-employment-tax-bill-in-new-jersey: 'Uber Technologies Inc. owes New Jersey about $650 million in unemployment and disability insurance taxes because the rideshare company has been misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, the state’s labor department said. Uber and subsidiary Rasier LLC were assessed $523 million in past-due taxes over the last four years, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said in a pair of letters to the companies. The rideshare businesses also are on the hook for as much as $119 million in interest and penalties on the unpaid amounts, according to other internal department documents.... Uber extended declines on news of New Jersey’s efforts, falling as much as 3.9%. Ridehailing competitor Lyft Inc. also dropped. The state’s determination is limited to unemployment and disability insurance, but it could also mean that Uber is required to pay drivers minimum wages and overtime under state law...

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Steve M.: There Won't Be a Battle for the Gop's Soul, and If There Is One, Reformicons Will Be Noncombatants https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2019/12/there-wont-be-battle-for-gops-soul-and.html: 'Resistance to government social programs means that Republican politicians run on an economic philosophy that's counter to what most Americans want, including their own voters. But their voters don't mind, because GOP pols distract them with talk about how much Democrats like open borders and Drag Queen Story Hour and gun confiscation. That plus gerrymandering and Democratic vote suppression is still working for Republicans, and may work again in 2020. Rubio is only 48, and he surely believes that Republicans will need a message more positive than "Suck it, libtards!" one of these days—though that moment of reckoning never seems to come.... But he likes to think he's a good man doing the Lord's work—or at least he's trying to position himself as a good man, because he believes that's a promising market niche in politics. There's no battle for the soul of the Republican Party.... The party consists of corporatists who are unabashed about it and corporatists who occasionally pretend that's not what they are. The only question is whether increasing numbers of Republican politicians in the foreseeable future will be pretenders. Trump was one in 2016, and it worked, because he still sounded like a liberal-hating tough guy. Rubio is one now, and it probably won't be to his benefit, because he sounds almost like a liberal. GOP voters want the economy to work better for them, but they want liberal tears more...

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John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/ch21.htm: 'It is a great fault of symbolic pseudo-mathematical methods of formalising a system of economic analysis, such as we shall set down in section vi of this chapter, that they expressly assume strict independence between the factors involved and lose all their cogency and authority if this hypothesis is disallowed; whereas, in ordinary discourse, where we are not blindly manipulating but know all the time what we are doing and what the words mean, we can keep “at the back of our heads” the necessary reserves and qualifications and the adjustments which we shall have to make later on, in a way in which we cannot keep complicated partial differentials “at the back” of several pages of algebra which assume that they all vanish. Too large a proportion of recent “mathematical” economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols...

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John Maynard Keynes (1937): The General Theory of Employment https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-1937.pdf: 'I am more attached to the comparatively simple fundamental ideas which underlie my theory than to the particular forms in which I have embodied them.... I would... prefer... to reëxpress some of these ideas.... By "uncertain"... I... mean... the price of copper and the rate of interest twenty years hence, or the obsolescence of a new invention, or the position of private wealth-owners in the social system in 1970. About these matters there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know. Nevertheless, the necessity for action and for decision compels us as practical men to do our best to overlook this awkward fact and to behave exactly as we should if we had behind us a good Benthamite calculation of a series of prospective advantages and disadvantages, each multiplied by its appropriate probability, waiting to be summed. How do we manage in such circumstances to behave[?]... We assume that the present is a... serviceable guide to the future.... We assume that the existing state of opinion as expressed in prices and the character of existing output is... correct.... We endeavor to conform with the behavior of the... average.... Now a practical theory of the future based on these three principles... based on so flimsy a foundation... is subject to sudden [p.215] and violent changes.... Our desire to hold Money as a store of wealth is a barometer of the degree of our distrust of our own calculations and conventions concerning the future.... It is not surprising that the volume of investment, thus determined, should fluctuate widely from time to time. For it depends on two sets of judgments about the future, neither of which rests on an adequate or secure foundation-on the propensity to hoard and on opinions of the future yield of capital-assets. Nor is there any reason to suppose that the fluctuations in one of these factors will tend to offset the fluctuations in the other.... The amount of consumption-goods which it will pay entrepreneurs to produce depends on the amount of investment-goods which they are producing.... Given the psychology of the public, the level of output and employment as a whole depends on the amount of investment.... This that I offer is, therefore, a theory of why output and employment are so liable to fluctuation...

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Henry Fielding (1749): The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling https://www.gutenberg.org/files/6593/6593-h/6593-h.htm#link2HCH0174: 'This bar of the uncle being now removed (though young Nightingale knew not as yet in what manner), and all parties being quickly ready, the mother, Mr Jones, Mr Nightingale, and his love, stept into a hackney-coach, which conveyed them to Doctors' Commons; where Miss Nancy was, in vulgar language, soon made an honest woman, and the poor mother became, in the purest sense of the word, one of the happiest of all human beings...

...And now Mr Jones, having seen his good offices to that poor woman and her family brought to a happy conclusion, began to apply himself to his own concerns; but here, lest many of my readers should censure his folly for thus troubling himself with the affairs of others, and lest some few should think he acted more disinterestedly than indeed he did, we think proper to assure our reader, that he was so far from being unconcerned in this matter, that he had indeed a very considerable interest in bringing it to that final consummation.

To explain this seeming paradox at once, he was one who could truly say with him in Terence, Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. He was never an indifferent spectator of the misery or happiness of any one; and he felt either the one or the other in great proportion as he himself contributed to either. He could not, therefore, be the instrument of raising a whole family from the lowest state of wretchedness to the highest pitch of joy without conveying great felicity to himself; more perhaps than worldly men often purchase to themselves by undergoing the most severe labour, and often by wading through the deepest iniquity.

Those readers who are of the same complexion with him will perhaps think this short chapter contains abundance of matter; while others may probably wish, short as it is, that it had been totally spared as impertinent to the main design, which I suppose they conclude is to bring Mr Jones to the gallows, or, if possible, to a more deplorable catastrophe...

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Eric R. Sims and Jing Cynthia Wu: The Four Equation New Keynesian Model: "This paper develops a New Keynesian model featuring financial intermediation, short and long term bonds, credit shocks, and scope for unconventional monetary policy. The log-linearized model reduces to four key equations–a Phillips curve, an IS equation, and policy rules for the short term nominal interest rate and the central bank's long bond portfolio (QE). The four equation model collapses to the standard three equation New Keynesian model under a simple parameter restriction. Credit shocks and QE appear in both the IS and Phillips curves. Optimal monetary policy entails adjusting the short term interest rate to offset natural rate shocks, but using QE to offset credit market disruptions. The ability of the central bank to engage in QE significantly mitigates the costs of a binding zero lower bound...

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John Maynard Keynes (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace: "After 1870 there was developed on a large scale an unprecedented situation, and the economic condition of Europe became during the next fifty years unstable and peculiar. The pressure of population on food, which had already been balanced by the accessibility of supplies from America, became for the first time in recorded history definitely reversed. As numbers increased, food was actually easier to secure. Larger proportional returns from an increasing scale of production became true of agriculture as well as industry. With the growth of the European population there were more emigrants on the one hand to till the soil of the new countries, and, on the other, more workmen were available in Europe to prepare the industrial products and capital goods which were to maintain the emigrant populations in their new homes, and to build the railways and ships which were to make accessible to Europe food and raw products from distant sources. Up to about 1900 a unit of labor applied to industry yielded year by year a purchasing power over an increasing quantity of food. It is possible that about the year 1900 this process began to be reversed, and a diminishing yield of Nature to man's effort was beginning to reassert itself. But the tendency of cereals to rise in real cost was balanced by other improvements; and—one of many novelties—the resources of tropical Africa then for the first time came into large employ, and a great traffic in oil-seeds began to bring to the table of Europe in a new and cheaper form one of the essential foodstuffs of mankind. In this economic Eldorado, in this economic Utopia, as the earlier economists would have deemed it, most of us were brought up. That happy age lost sight of a view of the world which filled with deep-seated melancholy the founders of our Political Economy. Before the eighteenth century mankind entertained no false hopes. To lay the illusions which grew popular at that age's latter end, Malthus disclosed a Devil. For half a century all serious economical writings held that Devil in clear prospect. For the next half century he was chained up and out of sight. Now perhaps we have loosed him again...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-12-02:

  1. Izabella Kaminska: Stablecoins as a Euphemism for Full-Reserve Banking https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2019/11/18/1574073401000/Stablecoins-as-a-euphemism-for-full-reserve-banking-/: 'In a world where fully-reserved digital stablecoins reign supreme, however, banks would have to pre-fund.... The cash float being what it is (mostly government-debt backed), that amounts to even greater sums of guaranteed funding for the government instead of the private sector.... Chances are the private sector would then respond creatively and arguably even more riskily...

  2. Numba: A ~5 Minute Guide to Numba https://numba.pydata.org/numba-doc/dev/user/5minguide.html: "Numba is a just-in-time compiler for Python that works best on code that uses NumPy arrays and functions, and loops. The most common way to use Numba is through its collection of decorators that can be applied to your functions to instruct Numba to compile them. When a call is made to a Numba-decorated function it is compiled to machine code 'just-in-time' for execution and all or part of your code can subsequently run at native machine code speed!... Numba is available as a conda package for the Anaconda Python distribution: conda install numba...

  3. MacRumors: How to Reset AirPods, AirPods 2, and AirPods Pro https://www.macrumors.com/how-to/reset-airpods/...

  4. U.S. Military Manpower—1789 to 1997 https://www.alternatewars.com/BBOW/Stats/US_Mil_Manpower_1789-1997.htm...

  5. Wikipedia: _United States Marine Corps _ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps#American_Civil_War_to_World_War_I...

  6. pydata: linear regression in python, outliers/leverage detect https://songhuiming.github.io/pages/2016/11/27/linear-regression-in-python-outliers-leverage-detect/...

  7. FRED: Unemployment Rate https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE...

  8. An Open Letter to Ben Bernanke https://economics21.org/html/open-letter-ben-bernanke-287.html: '(November 15, 2010)...

  9. The Two Faces of Jean-Baptiste Say... https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/04/the-two-faces-of-jean-baptiste-say.html...

  10. More from the History of Economic Thought: John Stuart Mill Contra Say's Law, 1844 https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/03/more-from-the-history-of-economic-thought-john-stuart-mill-contra-says-law-1844.html...

  11. UVA Library: Understanding Diagnostic Plots for Linear Regression Analysis https://data.library.virginia.edu/diagnostic-plots/...

  12. Robert Alvarez: Creating Diagnostic Plots in Python https://robert-alvarez.github.io/2018-06-04-diagnostic_plots/: 'and how to interpret them...

  13. statsmodels: Regression Plots https://www.statsmodels.org/dev/examples/notebooks/generated/regression_plots.html...

  14. A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry: Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School https://acoup.blog/2019/08/16/collections-this-isnt-sparta-part-i-spartan-school/...

  15. A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry: _ Collections_ https://acoup.blog/...

  16. Wikipedia: _Lysander _ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysander: 'Little is known of Lysander's early life. Some ancient authors record that he rose to Spartan citizenship from helot or even slave origins.[2] Lysander's father was Aristocleitus, who was a member of the Spartan Heracleidae; that is, he claimed descent from Heracles but was not a member of a royal family. He grew up in poverty and he showed himself obedient and conformable...

  17. Wikipedia: Gylippus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gylippus: 'Gylippus, like his father, met his downfall in a financial scandal; entrusted by Lysander with a treasure of silver coins for delivery to the ephors at Sparta, he could not resist the temptation to embezzle part of the shipment. Upon discovery of this theft, Gylippus fled Sparta and went into exile. He was condemned to death in absentia and disappears from historical records...

  18. Hoai-Tran Bui: "Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary Trailer" Released https://www.slashfilm.com/never-surrender-a-galaxy-guest-documentary-trailer/: 'How This ‘Star Trek’ Satire Became a Cult Classic...

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David Glasner does the Lord's work in pointing out that David Graeber—well, it's hard to know what David Graeber does. It certainly does not include things I would call "doing one's homework", "thinking clearly", or "writing coherently". : David Glasner: Graeber Against Economics https://uneasymoney.com/2019/12/01/graeber-against-economics/: 'Graeber describe how he thinks that economists think about how banks create money, correctly observing that there is a debate.... "Only a minority—mostly heterodox economists, post-Keynesians, and modern money theorists—uphold... that... deposits themselves were the result of loans. The one thing it never seemed to occur to anyone to do was to get a job at a bank...". But since James Tobin’s classic essay “Commercial banks as creators of money” was published in 1963, most economists who have thought carefully about banking have concluded that... deposits created by banks corresponds to the quantity of deposits that the public... chooses to hold.... Graeber... acknowledges that the weight of professional opinion... says that loans create deposits. He... triumphantly cites a report by Bank of England economists.... "Before long, the Bank of England... rolled out an elaborate official report called 'Money Creation in the Modern Economy', replete with videos and animations, making the same point: existing economics textbooks, and particularly the reigning monetarist orthodoxy, are wrong. The heterodox economists are right. Private banks create money. Central banks like the Bank of England create money as well, but monetarists are entirely wrong to insist that their proper function is to control the money supply..." Graeber, I regret to say, is simply exposing the inadequacy of his knowledge of the history of economics. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations explained that banks create money.... Subsequent economists from David Ricardo through Henry Thornton, J. S. Mill and R. G. Hawtrey were perfectly aware...

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I have been quite surprised to discovery that the 2019 Economics Nobel Laureates have not received enough praise since the announcement. So go read this:

Oriana Bandiera: Alleviating Poverty with Experimental Research: The 2019 Nobel Laureates https://voxeu.org/article/alleviating-poverty-experimental-research-2019-nobel-laureates: 'Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”.... Development economics had no PhD courses, no group at the NBER or CEPR, and hardly any publications in top journals until the early 2000s. What this year’s Nobel laureates did was to build the infrastructure to make fieldwork widely accessible and the methods to make the analysis credible. What they did, and what they were awarded for, is to put development economics back on centre stage.... What is unusual and relevant is that the nomination explicitly mentions that the winners lead a group effort: “The Laureates’ research findings–and those of the researchers following in their footsteps” (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019). What is even more unusual and extremely relevant is that the nomination emphasises the practical applications of their methods, which “have dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice”. This is a monumental change, and one that the profession should welcome for the obvious reason that making the world a better place is a desirable goal.  To be clear, each of them could have easily won the prize the ‘usual’ way – that is, by doing research of the highest quality, which has had lasting influence both in theoretical and applied economics. The economist (still) on the street might notice that of the top three cited papers for each of the three laureates, only two are randomised controlled trials (RCTs).... The need for policy to fix market failures generates the need for tools to evaluate policy. RCTs were developed to achieve this in a systematic way. They and other experimental methods had been widely used in the natural sciences and to a lesser extent in economics well before Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer began their work. Their contribution was to make them accessible to a large number of researchers, creating a research ‘firm’ which, like those in Banerjee and Newman (1993) and Kremer (1993), combines the talent of many to produce more than the sum of its individual components...

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Yes, the Medicaid expansion part of the ACA had a very high benefit-cost ratio. And those states that have blocked it have seen their poor suffer and die in not insignificant numbers for no comprehensible reason. Why do you ask?:

Sarah Miller, Sean Altekruse, Norman Johnson, and Laura R. Wherry: Medicaid and Mortality: New Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data: "Changes in mortality for near-elderly adults in states with and without Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions. We identify adults most likely to benefit using survey information on socioeconomic and citizenship status, and public program participation. We find a 0.13 percentage point decline in annual mortality, a 9.3 percent reduction over the sample mean, associated with Medicaid expansion for this population. The effect is driven by a reduction in disease-related deaths and grows over time. We find no evidence of differential pre-treatment trends in outcomes and no effects among placebo groups...

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Let me, for one, say that I am very skeptical of Spartan generalship if Gylippos the Mothrax—the victor of Syrakusa—is unable to think through the game tree to understand that there is probably, somewhere, an accounting check on his actions.

"Not knowing there was a writing in [each] sack indicating the sum it held" is not a boss move here:

Plutarch: Life of Lysander http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Lysander*.html: 'Lysander, after settling these matters, sailed for Thrace himself, but what remained of the public moneys, together with all the gifts and crowns which he had himself received,—many people, as was natural, offering presents to a man who had the greatest power, and who was, in a manner, master of Hellas,—he sent off to Lacedaemon by Gylippus, who had held command in Sicily. But Gylippus, as it is said, ripped open the sacks at the bottom, and after taking a large amount of silver from each, sewed them up again, not knowing that there was a writing in each indicating the sum it held. And when he came to Sparta, he hid what he had stolen under the tiles of his house, but delivered the sacks to the ephors, and showed the seals upon them. When, however, the ephors opened the sacks and counted the money, its amount did not agree with the written lists, and the thing perplexed them, until a servant of Gylippus made the truth known to them by his riddle of many owls sleeping under the tiling. For most of the coinage of the time, as it seems, bore the forgery of an owl, owing to the supremacy of Athens. Gylippus, then, after adding a deed so disgraceful and ignoble as this to his previous great and brilliant achievements, removed himself from Lacedaemon...

Of course, what can we say about Athenian demagogue and general Nikias, who was beaten by Gylippos?

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Andrei Shleifer: Implementation Cycles https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/shleifer/files/implement_cycles.pdf: "An artificial economy in which firms in different industries make inventions at different timers but innovate simultaneously to take advantage of high aggregate demand. In return, high aggregate demand results from simultaneous innovation in many sectors. The economy exhibits multiple cyclical equilibria, with entrepreneurs' expectations determining which equilibrium obtains. These equilibria are Pareto ranked, and the most profitable equilibrium need not be the most efficient. While an informed stabilization policy can sometimes raise welfare, if large booms are necessary to cover sized costs of innovation, stabilization policy can stop all technological progress...

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Wikipedia: Athena Promachos: "One of the earliest recorded works by Pheidias and was originally a well-known and famous Athenian landmark.... It originally stood between the Erechtheion and the Propylaea.... According to the Greek Byzantine historian, Niketas Choniates, the Athena Promachos stood at around thirty feet (10 meters) tall.... Made entirely of bronze.... The term 'Promachos' meaning 'fighting before' or 'in front of' was not originally used when referring to the statue; this nickname came later, most notably being used by Zosimus.... Shortly after 465 CE... the sculpture was transported to Constantinople... Niketas Choniates documented a riot taking place in the Forum of Constantine in Constantinople in 1203 CE where a large, bronze, statue of Athena was destroyed by a 'drunken crowd' of Crusaders which is now thought to have been the Athena Promachos.... Of surviving models thought to represent the type, the two outstanding ones are the Athena Elgin, a small bronze statuette in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[10] who bears an owl in her outstretched hand (as among some coin types), and the Athena Medici torso in the Musée du Louvre...

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Here, in 1865, we find Karl Marx anxious to not quite say that commodity prices are equal on average to their values but only that they are regulated by their labor values. What are commodity prices equal to on average? What, that is, determines what earlier economists would have called the value of a commodity—its average or natural price? Marx does not say. But he does, I think, realize that it would be rhetorically bad for him to flat-out say that he is not using the word "value" to mean "average or natural price". But if average prices are not labor values then what happens to Marx's entire surplus-value analysis? Average profits are then equal to value minus labor value plus surplus-value, and is there anything in the system to make the deviations of value from labor value cancel out so that you can say that at least in aggregate profits are surplus value? No. It is not clear to me how much Marx knew of how deep the trouble went:

Karl Marx (1865): Value, Price, and Profit https://delong.typepad.com/files/marx-vpp.pdf: 'At the moment when supply and demand equilibrate each other, and therefore cease to act, the market price of a commodity coincides with its real value, with the standard price round which its market prices oscillate. In inquiring into the nature of that VALUE, we have therefore nothing at all to do with the temporary effects on market prices of supply and demand. The same holds true of wages and of the prices of all other commodities.... Normal and average profits are made by selling commodities not above, but at their real values.... Deduct from the value of a commodity the value replacing the value of the raw materials and other means of production used upon it, that is to say, deduct the value representing the past labour contained in it, and the remainder of its value will resolve into the quantity of labour added by the working man last employed.... The values of commodities, which must ultimately regulate their market prices, are exclusively determined by the total quantities of labour fixed in them.... Capitalistic production moves through certain periodical cycles... [with] the market prices of commodities, and the market rates of profit, follow these phases, now sinking below their averages, now rising above them. Considering the whole cycle, you will find that one deviation of the market price is being compensated by the other, and that, taking the average of the cycle, the market prices of commodities are regulated by their values...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (December 1, 2019)

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**MUST OF THE MUSTS:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/happy-thanksgiving.html https://youtu.be/rVQqQuOO9yQ...

  2. Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Address: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this...

  3. Timothy B. Lee: No, Apple Isn’t Opening a New Manufacturing Plant in Texas https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/trump-brags-he-opened-apples-texas-mac-pro-plant-it-opened-in-2013/: '“I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas,” Trump wrote Wednesday.... Trump echoed that theme in a tweet after the tour. "Today I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America," he wrote.... It's technically owned by Apple contractor Flex, not Apple.... More important, it's not new. Apple has been building the Mac Pro at the same location since 2013. Apple is opening a new facility in Austin—a 3 million-square-foot office complex where Apple says its employees will perform... "engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support".... But that new facility isn't a manufacturing plant. It will create some high-paying jobs, but they'll mostly be white-collar jobs in areas like engineering, finance, and sales...

  4. The book that is going to come out of Ober's 2019 Sather lectures is going to be so great: Josiah Ober: Agamemnon’s Cluelessness: Economic Rationality and the Alternatives https://tinyurl.com/dl20191121: 'Among the many goals of Politics book 1 is to put chrêmatistikê—as expert knowledge of a particular relationship among production (poiêsis), exchange (allangê/metablêtikê), and consumption/possession (ktêsis), all characteristically involving coined money—into the normatively correct place in his naturalized hierarchy of value. The critical conclusion is that chrêmatistikê (or one specific type of chrêmatistikê) is a subordinate part of oikonomia. It is not “according to nature” (kata phusin) but rather a technê arising from practical experience (empeiria) . It aims the possession and increase of wealth, at accumulation of money, as an end. That accumulation is by its internal logic unbounded and unconstrained, insofar as wealth denominated in monetary terms has no natural limit. Chrêmatistikê thus is a matter of maximizing a single resource (one thought to give access to all other resources), rather than optimizing or satisficing in respect to other values. It is at once contrary to the true end of human existence, a prevalent approach to the management of material goods, and (at least potentially) an essential instrument for both the oikonomos and the politikos. Among the delicate tasks of book 1 of the Politics is, then, to demonstrate that Aristotle knows enough about this dangerous and vulgar (phortikon) instrument to specify its proper uses, while avoiding appearing to honor it as a science worthy of a detailed treatment...

  5. John Maynard Keynes: View of the Pre-World War I European Equilibrium https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/john-maynard-keyness-view-of-the-pre-world-war-i-european-equilibrium.html (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-peace.pdf: 'Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions...

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Duncan Black: No One Will Believe You https://www.eschatonblog.com/2019/11/no-one-will-believe-you.html: 'I think about this a lot: "For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan—and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing." It is a problem when you can completely accurately describe what Republicans very explicitly say they want and people will refuse to believe you and perhaps get mad at you for "lying" to them....

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Annalee Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/30/opinion/social-media-future.html: 'A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us: My quest to imagine a different reality: Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next. I don’t mean brainstorming new apps that could replace outdated ones, the way Facebook did Myspace. I mean what will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?... There are many paths beyond the social media hellscape, and all of them begin with reimagining what it means to build public spaces where people seek common ground.... Erika Hall’s design firm Mule.... “I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said. But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley.... Companies like Facebook and Twitter lack an incentive to promote better relationships and a better understanding of the news “because they make money through outrage and deception,” Ms. Hall said. Outrage and deception capture our attention, and attention sells ads. “At a business model level, they are ad networks parasitic on human connection.”.... Siva Vaidhyanathan.... We don’t have to lose our digital public spaces to state manipulation. What if future companies designed media to facilitate democracy right from the beginning? Is it possible to create a form of digital communication that promotes consensus-building and civil debate, rather than divisiveness and conspiracy theories?... Mr. Scalzi... imagines a new wave of digital media companies that will serve the generations of people who have grown up online (soon, that will be most people) and already know that digital information can’t be trusted. They will care about who is giving them the news, where it comes from, and why it’s believable. “They will not be internet optimists in the way that the current generation of tech billionaires wants,” he said with a laugh. They will not, he explained, believe the hype about how every new app makes the world a better place: “They’ll be internet pessimists and realists.” What would “internet realists” want from their media streams? The opposite of what we have now... a more robust, comprehensive version of privacy settings, where news and entertainment would reach you only after you opted into them. This would be the first line of defense against viral falsehoods, as well as mobs of strangers or bots attacking someone they disagree with...

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Science fiction and fantasy publisher Baen Books is publishing some truly totally weird batshit these days. Far beyond Fox News totally weird batshit. Perhaps the weirdest:

Perhaps the most outrageous, and certainly most damaging for our civilization is the campaign of “women’s liberation,” male-bashing, "role-reversal,” or whatever you care to call it. Again, as most of these epidemics are at the beginning, it seems to be far more vicious in America and Britain than in the rest of Europe. Yet, all the signs are in evidence that the infection is rapidly spreading, particularly through the electronic media, invaded as it is by the images of glamorous, bright, articulate, hyper-energetic and.super-successful women executives...

Just what is the grift here? Who is the target audience for this? How dumb do the editors think the people who buy their books are?

Just saying:

Vladimir Bukovsky (1992): Judgment in Moscow: "Epilogue.... There are much more far-reaching consequences of the West’s failure to win the Cold War.... From the collapse of the world order to the bankrupcy of welfare state, and from the crisis of representative democracy, abused and besieged by power-hungry 'minorities', to degeneration of our cultural life-these all are direct results of the collectivist egalitarian dream which reigned supreme since French Revolution.... The case of Bosnia is probably the most illustrative.... God only knows why did they decide, in their wisdom, to make an independent state governed by a Muslim minority (43.6% by the 1991 census) out of a Yugoslav province.... Serbs, constituting“ the largest "minority" (31.2%) particularly objected to any attempts at separating them from Serbia proper.... The Serbs in Bosnia have suddenly woke up one nice morning in an “independent" Muslim-governed state. Small wonder they have taken to arms.... The ensuing civil war, barbaric as it usually is between peasants fighting for their land, has been cleverly termed the "ethnic cleansing.” Ethnic? Since when did "Muslim" become an ethnicity?... Most of the main culprits in Yugoslavia-the leaders of "ethnic communities"-have routinely committed similar crimes for the past few decades in.their former capacity as the communist bosses. But, no, no one is going to judge them for those crimes. And if they continued to murder capitalists and kulaks, priests and "reactionaries,” no one would have dared to condemn them. Our moral indignation must be reserved only for the mythical "ethnic cleansing”...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/note-to-self-we-hear-a-lot-about-the-military-revolution-at-the-end-of-the-sixteenth-century-we-hear-about-gustaf-adolf.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4e53f05200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4e53f05200b: 'Yup. Suleiman has a unified state; Suleiman has a sort of post-classical central bureaucracy able to make and sustain policy. Suleiman has a professional army. (And a less professional army.) And yet Suleiman couldn't quite take Vienna or make the conquest of Hungary stick; the result is not stable control of Hungary, but a hundred and fifty years of conflict which the Ottoman Empire eventually loses. This isn't the pattern Brad's talking about with Babur; that's an example of someone able not so much to achieve victory as to change the local rules of warfare in the process of achieving victory. Afterwards, the things which conferred power no longer do so. (Napoleon isn't usually thought of as an example but would be one.) Suleiman specifically and the Ottomans generally can't do that in Hungary; they're using the same rules the various European powers are using. They start with a significant advantage in application, but not a sufficient advantage; they haven't got the ability to change the rules...

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Michael Kades: "Kodak https://twitter.com/Michael_Kades/status/1185290953483079683 invented the Digital Camera in 1974. You know who did not want to develop it and bring to market for fear it would canabalize their film monopoly? Yup, Kodak. https://businessinsider.com/this-man-invented-the-digital-camera-in-1975-and-his-bosses-at-kodak-never-let-it-see-the-light-of-day-2015-8 My guess is Kodak made the right choice to maximize its profits. That is why competition is important for innovation.... Actually Kodak did anticipate it. They just realized they were better off sucking every last dollar out the film monopoly and delaying the digital revolution as long as possible. Also, I would not call a near century of dominance ephemeral.... Isn't the question whether Kodak's decision to milk its existing monopoly was more profitable than pursuing a digital camera. I tend to think Kodak knew what it was doing. Even a couple of years up front of large monopoly rents >> a long tail of competitive profits...

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I agree with Arvind and Dani here: It is quite puzzling that financial globalization still has as many strong advocates as it does among policymakers and their ilk: Arvind Subramanian and Dani Rodrik: The Puzzling Lure of Financial Globalization https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/financial-globalization-neoliberalism-discredited-by-arvind-subramanian-and-dani-rodrik-2019-09: "Although most of the intellectual consensus behind neoliberalism has collapsed, the idea that emerging markets should throw their borders open to foreign financial flows is still taken for granted in policymaking circles. Until that changes, the developing world will suffer from unnecessary volatility, periodic crises, and lost dynamism...

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Definitely this week's most important must-read: Dylan Matthews: Should the Minimum Wage Be Raised? The Economic Debate, Explained https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/11/20/20952151/should-minimum-wage-be-raised: 'There’s still disagreement. But it looks like in many cases, pay raises swamp any lost jobs.... Dube, Cengiz, Lindner, and Zipperer find that much of the disagreement between the Card/Krueger and Neumark/Wascher approaches is attributable to a quirk in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During that period, blue states experienced an economic downturn relative to red states that predated the biggest blue state minimum wage increases; that made it look like minimum wages were lowering employment growth, when what was really happening was that blue states both had lower employment growth and separately increased their minimum wages. “In our QJE paper we showed that the specifications under argument (lot of controls, little controls) actually all suggest little job loss in the post 1995 period; and that this appears to be driven by the quirky 80s boom/bust,” Dube told me. “None of us knew this until recently. This is actually progress.”... Dube notes in his review that the best evidence we have suggests minimal job impacts on minimum wages of up to 60 percent of the median wage. The median hourly wage in El Centro, California is about $15.50, meaning the $13 an hour minimum (effective January 1 of next year) is over 80 percent of the median wage there. The effects there might be very different...

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I recommend reading Kurt Vonnegut, as perhaps more relevant and informative for our times than he was for the post-WWII era in which he wrote. I found Mother Night striking me harder than Slaughterhouse 5, but mileage will vary:

Daniel Kennelly: A Triumphant Failure: "There’s nothing intelligent to say about a massacre, wrote Kurt Vonnegut of his book about the firebombing of Dresden. So why are we still reading it a half-century later?.... Re-reading Vonnegut’s collected works from the vantage point of 2019, I had the strange experience of believing that all along Slaughterhouse had somehow been reaching its way backward in time into Vonnegut’s literary career. It was as if the book were to Vonnegut what Billy’s wartime experiences became to him: a moment in time, trapped in amber, surfacing randomly in his work, unbidden, frequently unwelcome. Dresden haunted Vonnegut’s life, and Slaughterhouse haunted his career—this 'short and jumbled and jangled' book, a 'failure'. So how does an understanding of the three unique temporal perspectives contained in Slaughterhouse-Five—our own, Billy’s, and the Tralfamadorian one—help us appreciate this 'failure' of a book?.... We are the Tralfamadorians, collectively, creating nuclear weapons because 'if we don’t, someone else will'.... And we are Billy, each of us as individuals. We could stand up and yell, 'Don’t get on that plane! It’s going to crash!' But Billy 'didn’t want to make a fool of himself by saying so', and we don’t want to sound like fools either...

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The extremely smart Ricardo Hausmann has good ideas for the reform of public-policy school education: Ricardo Hausmann: Don’t Blame Economics, Blame Public Policy https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/blame-public-policy-not-economics-by-ricardo-hausmann-2019-08: "Public-policy schools, which typically have a strong economics focus, must now rethink the way they teach students–and medical schools could offer a model to follow.... Economics is to public policy what physics is to engineering, or biology to medicine. While physics is fundamental to the design of rockets that can use energy to defy gravity, Isaac Newton was not responsible for the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Nor was biochemistry to blame for Michael Jackson’s death. Physics, biology, and economics, as sciences, answer questions about the nature of the world... generating... propositional knowledge. Engineering, medicine, and public policy, on the other hand, answer questions about how to change the world.... Although engineering schools teach physics and medical schools teach biology, these professional disciplines have grown separate from their underlying sciences.... Public-policy schools, by contrast, have not undergone an equivalent transformation.... Policy experience before achieving professorial tenure is discouraged and rare. And even tenured faculty have surprisingly limited engagement with the world, owing to prevailing hiring practices and a fear that engaging externally might entail reputational risks for the university. To compensate for this, public-policy schools hire professors of practice, such as me, who have acquired prior policy experience elsewhere.... The teaching-hospital model could be effective in public policy.... Consider, for example, Harvard University’s Growth Lab, which I founded in 2006 after two highly fulfilling policy engagements in El Salvador and South Africa...

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One of the most intriguing anomalies in all of behavioral economics is the so-called Monty Hall problem—many people refuse to believe that revealing apparently irrelevant information—that there is a goat behind door #2—about where the automobile is can and should change your assessment of likelihoods and thus your optimal decision. Perhaps this is because we are wired at a fairly deep level to believe in no correlation without causation—that we have to see a causal link between two phenomena in order to be willing to believe that they are correlated. Whether that is the explanation or not, it is clear that those of us who are bears of little brain need a lot of systematic help in parsing out issues of causation in complicated systems. And here Dana Mackenzie and Judea Pearl's _The Book of Why is going to be of enormous help in providing a gentle introduction to the issues and framework for thought. Here it is reviewed by the extremely sharp Lisa Goldberg:

Lisa Goldberg: Review of "The Book of Why: https://www.ams.org/journals/notices/201907/rnoti-p1093.pdf: "Pearl’s co-author Dana Mackenzie spoke on causal inference.... It concluded with an image of the first self-driving car to kill a pedestrian.... With a lead time of a second and a half, the car identified the object as a pedestrian. When the car attempted to engage its emergency braking system, nothing happened. The NTSB report states that engineers had disabled the system in response to a preponderance of false positives in test runs. The engineers were right, of course, that frequent, abrupt stops render a self-driving car useless. Mackenzie gently and optimistically suggested that endowing the car with a causal model that can make nuanced judgments about pedestrian intent might help.... Professor Judea Pearl has given us an elegant, powerful, controversial theory of causality. How can he give his theory the best shot at changing the way we interpret data? There is no recipe for doing this, but teaming up with science writer and teacher Dana Mackenzie, a scholar in his own right, was a pretty good idea...

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John Maynard Keynes's View of the Pre-World War I European Equilibrium

Il Quarto Stato

John Maynard Keynes (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-peace.pdf

Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions...

After 1870 there was developed on a large scale an unprecedented situation.... The pressure of population on food, which had already been balanced by the accessibility of supplies from America, became for the first time in recorded history definitely reversed. As numbers increased, food was actually easier to secure.... [Any] tendency of cereals to rise in real cost was balanced by other improvements; and—one of many novelties—the resources of tropical Africa then for the first time came into large employ, and a great traffic in oil-seeds began to bring to the table of Europe in a new and cheaper form one of the essential foodstuffs of mankind. In this economic Eldorado, in this economic Utopia, as the earlier economists would have deemed it, most of us were brought up...

What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. The inhabitant of London... most important of all... regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable. The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice...

Europe was so organized socially and economically as to secure the maximum accumulation of capital.... The new rich of the nineteenth century were not brought up to large expenditures, and preferred the power which investment gave them to the pleasures of immediate consumption.... If the rich had spent their new wealth on their own enjoyments, the world would long ago have found such a régime intolerable. But like bees they saved and accumulated, not less to the advantage of the whole community because they themselves held narrower ends in prospect.... The railways of the world, which that age built as a monument to posterity, were, not less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the work of labor which was not free to consume in immediate enjoyment the full equivalent of its efforts.... This remarkable system depended... on a double bluff.... The laboring classes accepted from ignorance or powerlessness, or were compelled, persuaded, or cajoled by custom, convention, authority, and the well-established order of Society into accepting a situation in which they could call their own very little of the cake.... The capitalist classes were allowed to call the best part of the cake theirs... on the tacit underlying condition that they consumed very little of it in practice. The duty of "saving" became nine-tenths of virtue and the growth of the cake the object of true religion..... And so the cake increased; but to what end was not clearly contemplated. Individuals would be exhorted not so much to abstain as to defer, and to cultivate the pleasures of security and anticipation..... The virtue of the cake was that it was never to be consumed, neither by you nor by your children after you.... In the unconscious recesses of its being Society knew what it was about. The cake was really very small in proportion to the appetites of consumption, and no one, if it were shared all round, would be much the better off by the cutting of it. Society was working not for the small pleasures of to-day but for the future security and improvement of the race.... If only the cake were... allowed to grow in the geometrical proportion... of compound interest... a day might come when there would at last be enough to go round, and when posterity could enter into the enjoyment of our labors. In that day overwork, overcrowding, and underfeeding would have come to an end, and men, secure of the comforts and necessities of the body, could proceed to the nobler exercises of their faculties...

The war has disclosed the possibility of consumption to all and the vanity of abstinence to many. Thus the bluff is discovered; the laboring classes may be no longer willing to forego so largely, and the capitalist classes, no longer confident of the future, may seek to enjoy more fully their liberties of consumption so long as they last, and thus precipitate the hour of their confiscation...

I have selected for emphasis... the instability of an excessive population dependent for its livelihood on a complicated and artificial organization, the psychological instability of the laboring and capitalist classes, and the instability of Europe's claim, coupled with the completeness of her dependence, on the food supplies of the New World. The war had so shaken this system as to endanger the life of Europe altogether.... It was the task of the Peace Conference to honor engagements and to satisfy justice; but not less to re-establish life and to heal wounds. These tasks were dictated as much by prudence as by the magnanimity which the wisdom of antiquity approved in victors...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-11-24:

  1. FRED: Employment Rate: Aged 25-54: All Persons for the United States https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?id=LREM25TTUSM156S,...

  2. hoakly: macOS Catalina Boot Volume Layout https://eclecticlight.co/2019/10/08/macos-catalina-boot-volume-layout/: 'One valuable trick for always using the right path in Terminal is to locate the folder or file in a Finder window, and drag and drop that into the command line. macOS then magically performs any path conversions for you. You may also find my utility Precize useful, as it gives paths, inode numbers, and a great deal more. For details of the roles and purposes of these folders, and those within the Home folder, please refer back to the previous article detailing the volume layout of macOS 10.14 Mojave...

  3. Piotr Wozniak: SuperMemo https://www.supermemo.com/en/articles/history: 'The true history of spaced repetition...

  4. FRED (DeLong): Four Key Components of Aggregate Demand https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?graph_id=524363&rn=654...

  5. John Mack Faragher: A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland https://archive.org/details/greatnoblescheme00fara...

  6. Hans Mühlestein (1948): Marx and the Utopian Wilhelm Weitling https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40399878.pdf...

  7. Marx/Engels Internet Archive: The Communist League https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/index.htm...

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Dwight Eisenhower (1954): Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower: "You say that the foreign policy of the two Administrations is the same.... It is well for us to have friends... to encourage them to oppose communism... to promote trade... and to attempt the promotion of peace in the world, negotiating from a position... strength.... The party... in power... must perforce follow a program that is related to these general purposes and aspirations. But the great difference is in how it is done and, particularly, in the results achieved. A year ago last January we were in imminent danger of losing Iran, and sixty percent of the known oil reserves of the world.  You may have forgotten this. Lots of people have. But there has been no greater threat that has in recent years overhung the free world. That threat has been largely, if not totally, removed. I could name at least a half dozen other spots of the same character. This being true, how can anyone be so unaware of what is happening as to say that this Administration has conducted foreign affairs under the same policies as did the former Administration?...


#noted #2019-11-24

Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How Can We Develop Transformative Tools For Thought? https://numinous.productions/ttft/: 'One of the ideas motivating Quantum Country is that memory systems aren’t just useful for simple declarative knowledge, such as vocabulary words and lists of capitals. In fact, memory systems can be extraordinarily helpful for mastering abstract, conceptual knowledge, the kind of knowledge required to learn subjects such as quantum mechanics and quantum computing. This is achieved in part through many detailed strategies for constructing cards capable of encoding this kind of understanding. But, more importantly, it’s possible because of the way the mnemonic medium embeds spaced repetition inside a narrative...

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Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How Can We Develop Transformative Tools For Thought? https://numinous.productions/ttft/: 'We have developed a website, http://quantum.country, which explores a new approach to explaining quantum computing and quantum mechanics. Ostensibly, Quantum Country appears to be a conventional essay introduction to these subjects. There is text, explanations, and equations.... But... Quantum Country is a prototype for a new type of mnemonic medium. Aspirationally, the mnemonic medium makes it almost effortless for users to remember what they read. That may sound like an impossible aspiration. What makes it plausible is that cognitive scientists know a considerable amount about how human beings store long-term memories...

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Andy Matuschak: Why Books Don’t Work https://andymatuschak.org/books/: 'Books are easy to take for granted.... Words in lines on pages in chapters. And at least for non-fiction books, one implied assumption at the foundation: people absorb knowledge by reading sentences. This last idea so invisibly defines the medium that it’s hard not to take for granted, which is a shame because, as we’ll see, it’s quite mistaken.... Have you ever had a book...come up in conversation... [and] discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences?... When someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment.... The books I named aren’t small investments. Each takes around 6–9 hours to read...

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Price Fishback: World War II in America: Spending, Deficits, Multipliers, and Sacrifice https://voxeu.org/article/world-war-ii-america-spending-deficits-multipliers-and-sacrifice: 'The US became the ‘arsenal of democracy’ by producing a massive amount of military goods that raised real GDP by 72% between 1940 and 1945. Yet, multiplier estimates for this expansion in government spending are less than one. Long-range studies at subnational levels show that military spending was associated with small effects on per capita activity. Military spending in the context of a quasi-command economy crowded out private consumption and investment and forced people into the military. In essence, Americans sacrificed heavily to win the war, while their Allies sacrificed even more...

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John Quiggin: Russia or California? http://crookedtimber.org/2019/11/23/russia-or-california/: 'Most Republican voters don’t yet realise the path they are following. But if you had told them, in 2015, that they would be cheering Trump a few years later, they would have laughed. There’s no sign yet of any improvement. In this context, it’s interesting to look back at the claims of Jonathan Haidt that conservatives understood liberals better than vice versa. His method was to compare the views liberals imputed to conservatives (essentially that they were Trumpists) with the self-descriptions of conservatives. As it’s turned out, liberals knew conservatives better than conservatives knew themselves*. Haidt’s own trajectory, from progressive concern troll to the “Intellectual Dark Web” illustrates this. The standard defense now is that conservatives were so outraged at being called racists that they became racists just so they could trigger the libs...

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Duncan Black: What Was It All About https://www.eschatonblog.com/2019/11/what-was-it-all-about.html: 'There isn't going to be much soul-searching from New York Times journalists about how they, specifically, were the marks for this Ukraine stuff. Donald Trump is the stupidest man in America, but he is smart enough to know that the New York Times would run with "battling accusations of corruption" every time they mentioned Candidate Biden. And I mean the New York Times. They were the target. Whether they are active players or dumb saps is another question...

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Gregory Meyer: Why US farmers Are Falling Out Of Love with Donald Trump https://www.ft.com/content/41b3c728-0a11-11ea-b2d6-9bf4d1957a67?shareType=nongift: 'As impeachment gathers momentum, anger over ethanol policy threatens the president in the Corn Belt.... Siouxland is a biofuel refinery, taking corn by the truckload from some of the nation’s best land and brewing it into ethanol for car engines. Built with local farmers’ capital and political muscle, these plants have established a market for excess grain supplies over the past 15 years and helped cut US reliance on foreign oil. But this autumn, the plant laid idle for six weeks, one of dozens to have slowed or halted their operations even as demand for transport fuel creeps higher. Plant owners blame government waivers that allow smaller oil refineries to ignore quotas requiring biofuel use. The policy shift has capped demand growth and pressured prices for corn and soyabeans. The resulting pain for farmers is now creating a problem for Donald Trump. “We pretty much supported President Trump in the last election,” says Kelly Nieuwenhuis, one of 391 local farmers with a stake in Siouxland. “I know the polls say he has still got a lot of strong [farmer] support, but I’ve heard a lot of people that won’t support him again because of biofuels.” The anger highlights the Trump administration’s difficulty satisfying rival constituencies in the Corn Belt and oilfields. The number of “small refinery exemptions”, or SREs, has shot up since 2017 and shaved 7.4 per cent from the government biofuel target in the latest round, according to the Energy Information Administration. The government says low-volume oil refineries are entitled to such waivers if they can prove hardship from biofuels quotas. This obscure policy shift, conducted in the shadow of national news about impeachment, is now weakening Mr Trump’s standing in a core voting bloc ahead of the 2020 elections...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-11-23:

  1. Hagit Caspi: Interview with Berkeley Economics Professor Yuriy Gorodnichenko https://www.econ.berkeley.edu/content/interview-berkeley-economics-professor-yuriy-gorodnichenko...

  2. Ben Thompson: Integration and Monopoly https://stratechery.com/2019/integration-and-monopoly/: 'I have written about Apple’s integration multiple times over the years.... First, integration provides for a superior user experience.... Second, integration maximizes the likelihood of success for new products.... Third, integration is incredibly profitable because it is, from a money-making perspective, a monopoly: Apple devices are the only ones that run iOS...

  3. Andrew Liptak: Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series Is Getting a Second Season https://www.tor.com/2019/11/18/amazon-lord-of-the-rings-series-second-season-renewal/: 'Amazon’s upcoming Middle-earth series is still years away from debuting on the company’s streaming service, but it’s already granted the series an early second season renewal, according to Deadline. The news isn’t a huge surprise...

  4. Eric Roston: The Man Who Got Economists to Take Climate Nightmares Seriously https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/the-man-who-got-economists-to-take-climate-nightmares-seriously-1.1308840...

  5. Rebecca Araten: Harvard Economist Martin Weitzman, Known for Climate Change Scholarship, Dies at 77 https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2019/9/6/martin-weitzman-obituary/: 'The New York Times reported that the Nobel decision ushered Weitzman into a period of emotional distress, and that the famous economist wrote a note doubting his ability to make further advances in the economic field...

  6. John Hawks (2008): Did Humans Face Extinction 70,000 Years Ago? http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/genetics/mtdna_migrations/sub-saharan-africa-population-size-behar-2008.html...

  7. Tom Junod: Can You Say...“Hero”? https://classic.esquire.com/article/1998/11/1/can-you-say-hero: 'Fred Rogers has been doing the same small good thing for a very long time...

  8. Felix Salmon: Meltdown! : 'Situational awareness: Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of Twitter, came clean yesterday about how the "machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting" in digital ads erodes our civic discourse. Take solace that doesn't happen here at Axios Edge: You're about to read the exact same ad that every other subscriber gets to see...

  9. Sarah Han: Bites https://www.berkeleyside.com/2019/11/19/bites-chef-preeti-mistrys-juhu-returns-to-oakland-this-summer-at-a-huge-new-jack-london-square-food-hall: 'Chef Preeti Mistry’s Juhu returns to Oakland this summer at a huge new Jack London Square food hall...

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And over in Britain, the quality of governance is even worse than here in America: Martin Wolf: Why I Want Another Hung Parliament https://www.ft.com/content/863c9b96-fca0-11e9-a354-36acbbb0d9b6: 'Victory by fanatics on a modest share of votes is all too likely under the UK’s first-past-the-post system, with several parties in competition. Since the two biggest parties are likely to be an English nationalist party and a hard-left socialist party, the outcome of the December 12 election might harm Britain irreparably.... One explanation for the weakness of investment is uncertainty over when, how, or even whether the UK is going to leave the EU. Some will argue that it is essential, for just this reason, to get it done. That is not so: first, the deal reached by Mr Johnson is a really bad one; second, it will not end uncertainty, precisely because it is a bad one.... The notion that a new trade deal would be finished by the end of 2020 is also a fantasy. It is likely to take many years, with more cliff edges threatening a “no-trade deal” option along the way.... Since “getting it done” quickly is a fantasy, I am delighted Mr Johnson has put his bad deal on ice to pursue the alternative of a general election, even though it is likely to be dreadful.... Electoral Calculus currently predicts... a 52 per cent chance of a Conservative majority, an 11 per cent chance of a Labour majority and a 37 per cent chance of a hung parliament. This last possibility is enticing.... Under the Tories, the UK would get a hard Brexit, prolonged uncertainty and a regulatory race to the bottom... under Labour, it would get a softer Brexit, but a government that wants to take the UK out of the west politically (Mr Corbyn’s goal) and economically (that of John McDonnell, shadow chancellor). How can a country dependent on the confidence of global investors survive a government committed to expropriation? Policy Exchange is persuasive on these risks. Yet, under a hung parliament, the UK could negotiate a new deal and then put it to the people for confirmation. The sillier ideas of the two main parties would also have to be abandoned. After such a sobering failure, both the Tories and Labour might even consider moving away from some of their more extremist posturing...

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These two are Equitable Growth's not-so-secret but very powerful intellectual weapon on issue of public finance: Greg Leiserson and Will McGrew: Taxing Wealth bu Taxing Investment Income: An Introduction to Mark-To-Market Taxation: "The sharp increase in U.S. wealth inequality in recent decades has spurred interest in increasing taxes on wealth. This issue brief introduces mark-to-market taxation, one approach to raising taxes on wealth by reforming the taxation of investment income.1 In a system of mark-to-market taxation, investors pay tax on the increase in the value of their investments each year rather than deferring tax until those investments are sold, as they do under current law. This issue brief first defines investment income and explains how mark-to-market taxation works. It then reviews the revenue potential of this approach to taxing investment income, explaining why a mark-to-market system can raise substantial revenues. Finally, it summarizes the distribution of the burden that would result, which would fall overwhelmingly on wealthy individuals...

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Yes, we know that job training programs can be very effective. But how to keep them effective as they scale up? Normally we rely on markets and the profit motive to incentivize preserving effectiveness with scale. But with social-insurance and other pro-poor programs, the beneficiaries do not have the social power to use the market to keep the programs that serve them on track: Paul Osterman: How to Turn Bad Jobs into Good Ones https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2019/11/12/mit-economist-how-turn-bad-jobs-into-good-ones/H5z8xFljzvA8EFedkTeiNJ/story.html?event=event25: 'Research shows the benefits of retraining and raising wages outweigh the costs.... Part of the problem lies in low skill levels. In Massachusetts, 53 percent of workers who earn 15 an hour or less have no more than a high school degree. But we also know that most people can improve their skills. Effective job training programs, such as those offered by the workforce development organization JVS Boston, can make a real difference. As an example, in the past year, its 12-week pharmacy technician training program placed 45 people in better-paying jobs; graduates went from earning an average of 13 an hour before gaining new skills to 17 an hour after. We have good evidence that well-run job training programs, ones that include significant investments in training, support services (for example, help with small unexpected expenses), and coaching for participants, are effective in moving people into better jobs and raising their earnings. High-performing programs are also characterized by strong relationships with employers. We know how to make these work, but we face two big challenges: spreading the model to reach more workers, and providing the resources needed to pay for it...

Alan M. Turing (1950): Computing Machinery and Intelligence: "The view that machines cannot give rise to surprises is due, I believe, to a fallacy to which philosophers and mathematicians are particularly subject. This is the assumption that as soon as a fact is presented to a mind all consequences of that fact spring into the mind simultaneously with it. It is a very useful assumption under many circumstances, but one too easily forgets that it is false...

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Kate Bahn: Domestic Outsourcing of Jobs Leads to Declining U.S. Job Quality and Lower Wages: "One prototypical example is janitorial work, where most office cleaners today are employed by a janitorial services company that is contracted by the building owner where individual office places lease their space. These kinds of fissured employment patterns have led economists and other social science researchers to examine a variety of empirical research questions about what has caused domestic outsourcing, what the impacts have been and for whom, and what the future of the firm will be...

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Morgan Kelly and Cormac Ó Gráda: The Preventive Check in Medieval and Preindustrial England: 'England's post-Reformation demographic regime has been characterized as “low pressure.” Yet the evidence hitherto for the presence of a preventive check, defined as the short-run response of marriage and births to variations in living standards, is rather weak. New evidence in this article strengthens the case for the preventive check in both medieval and early modern England. We invoke manorial data to argue the case for a preventive check on marriages in the Middle Ages. Our analysis of the post-1540 period, based on parish-level rather than aggregate data, finds evidence for a preventive check on marriages and births...

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A little bit aggressive and overcertain from the brilliant Esther Duflo, but only a little: Channel 4 News: _"'There is no reason to fear low-skilled migration' https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status/1194652089814855680. Nobel prize-winning economist Esther Duflo says 'the effect of low-skilled migration on low-skilled wages is zero'. Esther Duflo is... guest on this week's Ways to Change the World podcast... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1pZfFY132Q

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Adam Smith (1776): On the Disturbances in the American Colonies https://www.econlib.org/archives/2012/07/adam_smith_on_u.html Wealth of Nations IV-7-152: "To propose that Great Britain should voluntarily give up all authority over her colonies, and leave them to elect their own magistrates, to enact their own laws, and to make peace and war as they might think proper, would be to propose such a measure as never was, and never will be adopted, by any nation in the world. No nation ever voluntarily gave up the dominion of any province, how troublesome soever it might be to govern it, and how small soever the revenue which it afforded might be in proportion to the expence which it occasioned. Such sacrifices, though they might frequently be agreeable to the interest, are always mortifying to the pride of every nation, and what is perhaps of still greater consequence, they are always contrary to the private interest of the governing part of it, who would thereby be deprived of the disposal of many places of trust and profit, of many opportunities of acquiring wealth and distinction, which the possession of the most turbulent, and, to the great body of the people, the most unprofitable province seldom fails to afford. The most visionary enthusiast would scarce be capable of proposing such a measure with any serious hopes at least of its ever being adopted. If it was adopted, however, Great Britain would not only be immediately freed from the whole annual expence of the peace establishment of the colonies, but might settle with them such a treaty of commerce as would effectually secure to her a free trade, more advantageous to the great body of the people, though less so to the merchants, than the monopoly which she at present enjoys. By thus parting good friends, the natural affection of the colonies to the mother country which, perhaps, our late dissensions have well nigh extinguished, would quickly revive. It might dispose them not only to respect, for whole centuries together, that treaty of commerce which they had concluded with us at parting, but to favour us in war as well as in trade, and, instead of turbulent and factious subjects, to become our most faithful, affectionate, and generous allies; and the same sort of parental affection on the one side, and filial respect on the other, might revive between Great Britain and her colonies, which used to subsist between those of ancient Greece and the mother city from which they descended...

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The book that is going to come out of Ober's 2019 Sather lectures is going to be so great: Josiah Ober: Agamemnon’s Cluelessness: Economic Rationality and the Alternatives. https://tinyurl.com/dl20191121: 'Among the many goals of Politics book 1 is to put chrêmatistikê—as expert knowledge of a particular relationship among production (poiêsis), exchange (allangê/metablêtikê), and consumption/possession (ktêsis), all characteristically involving coined money—into the normatively correct place in his naturalized hierarchy of value. The critical conclusion is that chrêmatistikê (or one specific type of chrêmatistikê) is a subordinate part of oikonomia. It is not “according to nature” (kata phusin) but rather a technê arising from practical experience (empeiria) . It aims the possession and increase of wealth, at accumulation of money, as an end. That accumulation is by its internal logic unbounded and unconstrained, insofar as wealth denominated in monetary terms has no natural limit. Chrêmatistikê thus is a matter of maximizing a single resource (one thought to give access to all other resources), rather than optimizing or satisficing in respect to other values. It is at once contrary to the true end of human existence, a prevalent approach to the management of material goods, and (at least potentially) an essential instrument for both the oikonomos and the politikos. Among the delicate tasks of book 1 of the Politics is, then, to demonstrate that Aristotle knows enough about this dangerous and vulgar (phortikon) instrument to specify its proper uses, while avoiding appearing to honor it as a science worthy of a detailed treatment...

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Timothy B. Lee: No, Apple Isn’t Opening a New Manufacturing Plant in Texas https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/trump-brags-he-opened-apples-texas-mac-pro-plant-it-opened-in-2013/: '“I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas,” Trump wrote Wednesday.... Trump echoed that theme in a tweet after the tour. "Today I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America," he wrote.... It's technically owned by Apple contractor Flex, not Apple.... More important, it's not new. Apple has been building the Mac Pro at the same location since 2013. Apple is opening a new facility in Austin—a 3 million-square-foot office complex where Apple says its employees will perform... "engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support".... But that new facility isn't a manufacturing plant. It will create some high-paying jobs, but they'll mostly be white-collar jobs in areas like engineering, finance, and sales...

...Apple's decision to keep Mac Pro manufacturing in the United States follows contentious negotiations with the Trump administration. Back in June, a Wall Street Journal story suggested that Apple was preparing to move Mac Pro manufacturing to China. The Journal story included remarks from an Apple spokesman that didn't dispute plans to move to China. Instead, the spokesman emphasized that "final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process." Behind the scenes, Apple was seeking tariff concessions that would make it more affordable to assemble the Mac Pro in the United States. Several key components of the Mac Pro were made in China, and Apple would incur tariffs if it shipped those parts to the US for assembly. Donald Trump took a hard line on the issue in a July tweet.... But then in September, Apple announced that it would continue making the Mac Pro in Austin after all—and the company credited the Trump administration for the shift. "The US manufacturing of Mac Pro is made possible following a federal product exclusion Apple is receiving for certain necessary components," Apple wrote in its September announcement. Despite Trump's threats, his administration granted 10 out of 15 Apple requests for relief from Trump's 25% tariff on Chinese imports...

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