#commentoftheday Feed

Meyer: Is America in Decline?—Comment

William Meyer: Is America in Decline? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/09/is-america-in-decline-pairagraph.html?cid=6a00e551f080038834026bde921572200c#comment-6a00e551f080038834026bde921572200c: ‘I have told many younger people that they don't know what prosperous times actually feel like. They've never felt the economy "roar." So, yeah, we're in decline and that's too bad. The truth is, however, that in the USA all the trends that have led us to such a decline are fairly ancient. White racism—based on massive economic exploitation of Native Americans, blacks and immigrants only gradually allowed into the "white" tent—has been a significant defect of America from long before our grandparents were born. The malign influence of great wealth has been a problem at least since the New Deal—if you look at the historical record, every aspect of conservativism has always been carefully watered and fertilized, if not virtually summoned up out of thin air, by ultra-conservative businessmen of great wealth. Our high-veto point Constitution has always been successfully manipulated to block human progress in our practical politics, and has always been far too susceptible and far too friendly to minority rule—a problem since Ratification. Our professional classes, since they got control of their own destinies in the early 20th century, have been ignoring the common good while entrenching their own profit in the law and in medicine. Yes, for a half century we were making progress in at least specific areas. But the malign aspects of the country somehow got the upper hand in the late 1970s and have never relinquished it since. It would be nice if in my adult life the underlying trends turned positive once more. Well, I can hope anyway…

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Steindel: Wage Rigidity—Comment of the Day

Charles Steindel: Comment on Modigliani (1944): Liquidity Preference https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/modigliani-1944-liquidity-preferencenoted.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340263e9612965200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340263e9612965200b: ‘Modigliani '44--a grand vintage! (connoisseurs also should try the '63). Seriously, after 2008 I started musing on the concept of "rigid wages." We vaguely thought of that as essentially an ordinal variable. If wages were less rigid, the economy is more responsive to the real factors, less so to the monetary factors. Now a think it's a lot less linear. Flexible wages and prices (of goods and services) would, it seems, need to be a lot more like asset market prices to be in that blissful non-Keynesian world. But one could hardly live in it; it is convenient to know what a quart of milk will cost in dollars when setting out to the grocery store...

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Lightcap: Sokrates vs. Machiavelli on the Educational Process—Comment

Tracy Lightcap: Sokrates vs. Machiavelli on the Educational Process | Lecture https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/sokrates-vs-machiavelli-on-the-educational-process-lecture.html?cid=6a00e551f080038834026bde8e351c200c#comment-6a00e551f080038834026bde8e351c200c: ‘The great book How Learning Works has a typology that I like to use in explaining what I'm trying to do and what education is about. It has four categories of expertise...

  1. Ignorant and Unconscious: This is a way to describe a good part of the population. They don't know much and they are unconsicious of how little they know. Of course, this can apply to even highly educated people in fields where they don't know anything, if they are unwilling to admit their ignorance. This is important thing to keep in mind as you learn more.

  2. Ignorant and Conscious: This is where. most freshmen and sophomores are in college. They have learned just how little they know and they are being forced to deal with it. Usually, they do. Some drop out instead. Some do only what is necessary to pass in subjects that don't require much development of expertise. It's easy to fail on this.

  1. Expert and Conscious: This is where we want juniors and seniors to be. It is where you have expertise and you can apply it if you are careful and work hard. Good subjects (and courses) give you opportunities to do this.
  1. Expert and Unconscious: Unfortunately for you, this is where most of your professors are. They are expert and they apply their knowledge in ways that have become second nature to them. That means they often have a hard time breaking down all the steps they follow to reach conclusions. "Why didn't they get this? Everybody knows it! Besides, we went over a lot of it before!" You have to be patient and ask us about what you don't understand. We try to get across what we are doing, but sometimes we forget a step or two or forget that what you had in a related course isn't obviously relevant to you in this course. You have to remind us. And tell us when we are going right over your head. But this is what where we are aiming to get you and where, if you are diligent, you will end up. I might add that this is what people pay you for.

When I give this talk, I invariably have students come up to me afterwards and thank me. They have never been told why they are being educated and what they are expected to get out of the process. It's all been "Get a degree! You'll get paid more." Almost nobody tell what they are being paid for and why a degree is important.

This is really strange…

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Meyer: þe Right-Wing-o-Sphere Will Fight a Cold Civil War—Comment of þe Day

William Meyer: All Hands on Deck Time https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/all-hands-on-deck-timenote-to-self.html?cid=6a00e551f080038834026bde897408200c#comment-6a00e551f080038834026bde897408200c: ‘What to say about these people? Even if there is a major political win in November for the Democrats, the entire right-wing-o-sphere, now all-in on despicable behavior, will still be out there, raring for revenge and almost certainly trying to make the pandemic and the economic damage worse with an eye on the 2022 midterms. Of course they hope to repeat their successful strategy of 2010. (That certainly looks to be what McConnell is aiming for, at a minimum—he is the smartest guy they've got.) I guess there is no alternative, but what we have ahead of us is—literally—a Cold Civil War. We better be prepared to fight it… .#commentoftheday #2020-08-14


Graydon: Authoritarians Cannot Admit Error—Comment of the Day

Graydon: The Post-Trump GOP Is Likely to Be Even Worse https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/steve-m-_the-post-trump-gop-is-likely-to-be-even-worse_-the-lincoln-project-i-believe-the-projects-founders-a.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340264e2ec1555200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340264e2ec1555200d: ‘This is one of those cases of making a simple thing complicated. Authoritarians cannot admit error; it's structurally surrender in authoritarian contexts. The cultural GOP is authoritarian and committed for generations to a great many policies they can no longer avoid describing as errors should they retain any allegiance to the utility of facts. So you get a complete refusal to deal with facts. Because this refusal exists in context of really effective communications, the common fabulations retain political meaning on sheer numbers. It's emergent; its unpredictable. It's generally entirely bonkers. But it is a consensus… .#commentoftheday #2020-08-06


JEC: 'This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere'—Comment of the Day

Comment of the Day: JEC: 'This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere' https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/holbo-this-maxim-is-patently-grossly-inadequate-for-governing-a-blog-comment-box-let-alone-public-reason-a-public.html: ‘"The question is where do you draw the line..." I agree, which is why it is irksome that the open letter refuses, point-blank, to engage with the nuances of line-drawing. The crucial sentence is this one: "Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal." The "arguments around the particulars" of real-world cases are the whole ballgame. Breezily dismissing mere specificities is gutless sophistry, and I think less of each individual careless enough to sign on to this shoddy piece of argumentation. (I'll note Paul Starr and David Frum, in particular.)... The open letter lacks the courage and intellectual honesty to name a single specific example of this happening. Instead, it treats us to a rather slippery series of hints and allusions which may bring to mind certain recent cases, without committing the signers to saying "This, this specific event, taking into account the totality of facts, was wrong." (And then, of course, it has the gumption to dismiss the relevance of its own pseudo-examples.) The letter is a complaint that a line—which it doesn't even attempt to define—has been crossed, on occasions it flatly refuses to name. It is, in a word, rubbish… .#comment-of-the-day #2020-07-16


Comment of the Day: Koop: [Watson] 'I Was Canceled & Deplatformed... by Richard Dawkins & His Fans Instead of, Like, Trans People...

Phil Koop: This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/holbo-this-maxim-is-patently-grossly-inadequate-for-governing-a-blog-comment-box-let-alone-public-reason-a-public.html: 'Also, [Rebecca Watson:] "Sometimes I feel sympathy for the people who worry about “cancel culture” and then I remember that I was canceled and deplatformed but they don’t think it counts because I was targeted by Richard Dawkins and his fans instead of, like, trans people or antifa or whoever [woman shrugging]" https://twitter.com/rebeccawatson/status/1280901089831739392?s=20… .#commentoftheday #2020-07-11


Comment of the Day: Phil Koop https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/04/what-is-the-real-prevalence-of-coronavirus-across-states.html#comment-6a00e551f080038834025d9b4755b8200c: ' Adjusting for lag presumably requires both a model and longitudinal data to input to the model. So the starting point is with cross-sectional random samples. If we guess the true rate of infections is about 3%, then we need a test with very good specificity. An RNA test, even if had 100% specificity, could only tell us about current infections, not cumulative infections. A serologic test can tell us about cumulative infections as of 2-3 weeks ago, provided it has good enough specificity. There is a list of serologic tests here: https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/resources/COVID-19/serology/Serology-based-tests-for-COVID-19.html. Some of these are claimed to have 100% specificity, but of those, none are yet approved for use in the US. Of the tests approved for use in the US, the only one with a listed specificity is 95.6% (a suspiciously precise number, given it was tested in "a total of 128 COVID19 positive patients, and 250 COVID19 negative patients (as detected by RT-qPCR).") 95.6%, even if correct, would not be nearly good enough. I think that whatever is right is going to have to start with a good-enough test....

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Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/coronavirus-daily-read-list.html: 'It's 11:00 pm in Washington DC on the 10th of April. Australia's COVID-19 death toll is 54. The United State's is 18,747. The US has 13 times Australia's population, so the per capita death toll in the US is 27 times higher. Both countries had similar time to prepare. At current rates, the US death toll will end up hundreds of times higher on a per capita basis...

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Comment of the Day: Moving into life in an Isaac Asimov novel of the 1950s: Dilbert Dogbert https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/04/comment-of-the-day-_meno-new-zealand-has-a-plan_-new-zealand-has-an-articulate-plan-for-the-next-year-and-we-see-th.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a52150de200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a52150de200b: 'Nice that NZ has a plan. I have a plan. For the rest of my life I will be in isolation, partial. Wear a mask and gloves when going anywhere there are people not family. I am not sure I will change behavior even if a vaccine and/or a drug becomes available. We, the wife and I, are lucky as we have lived in partial isolation for 11 years after moving from Palo Alto to the outer fringes of the Gamma Quadrant. Our risks will be medical appointments, grocery shopping and obtaining needed hardware supplies. Most of our other shopping is via the internet. I am a semi-isolate naturally even though I like people. The wife does her group clubs over the internet. I have a shop and she has a garden. Lucky to have the resources to keep horses that allow us to get out and about in isolation. Damn Lucky!...

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Comment of the Day: Meno: New Zealand has a plan https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/04/we-could-be-new-zealand-we-should-be-new-zealand.html#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a51ff0b5200b: 'New Zealand has an articulate plan for the next year. And we see this as a marathon, not a sprint. We started a month ago with 4 defined levels of social distancing response. We are now up at level 4 (everyone stays home). As the virus is eradicated we will step down to 3, 2, 1. Or back up if needed. Regions could end up on different levels, but probably not as roadblocks and checkpoints are difficult. Our testing rates will not go down as social distancing ends. The aim is zero cases a day, with border quarantine and strong testing levels finding zero cases, with contact tracing set up as a backstop. “Have your staff work from home if practical” comes in early at level 2: my partners and I own a NZ IT firm so we expect our staff will wrk from home for another 2 or 3 months, while schools and etc will open earlier and so will construction work, factories, shops. The govt will not guarantee timing, there are many unknowns, and our tourism industry is totally screwed: but the govt are doing their best to help businesses plan for the upcoming year. You could still do that. Stop just reacting, start planning...

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Comment of the Day: Joe Barsugli https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/dealing-with-coronavirus-the-hunker-down-and-the-jubilee.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4f57f77200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4f57f77200d: 'I agree with Jubilee, but Hunker Down has some problems. While I agree with the broad outline, we simply don't know how much hunkering down is needed to "reach a level that reduces the caseload to what the medical system can currently handle, but should not be pushed far beyond that point." I'm not sure you can fine-tune it. European experience seems to indicate that half-measures are much less than half-effective. Better to hit it hard with all you've got up front and hope you start to see results in 10-12 days. If the current measures prove adequate, then they have to be run for several cycles. China was extreme in its measures and beat the virus back in 6+ weeks. Lightening up too much too soon would lead to a second wave before we are ready to handle it...

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Comment of the Day: Rad Geek https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/rad-geek-_the-infovores-dilemma_-in-circumstances-that-lead-to-a-high-risk-of-groupthink-and-overreach-its-a-r.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a51a750f200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a51a750f200b: 'Rad Geek said in reply to Ebenezer Scrooge: "A really expert journo collects an awful lot of signal with very little added noise, even if the originals are mentally accessible and noise-free .... a general-purpose journo in a specialized beat is trouble, even if the journo is smart and fair. ... A good lawyer or journo can manipulate symbolic knowledge far better than those who have the tacit knowledge..." I don't think we disagree about the features that make a really expert journalist very valuable on a well-defined beat. Sure: and under ordinary conditions in an informational ecosystem, that's sometimes a pretty good reason to read newspaper reports more than you read abstracts, etc. But what I'm concerned about is what happens in extraordinary conditions in the informational ecosystem, when—for example—the sheer volume, rapid-fire turn-around times, and tremendously wide scope of issues involved mean that a lot more "general-purpose" journos are suddenly put onto specialized beats, or onto writing generalist stories that really essentially involve complicated issues from a specialized beat. (Call that the demand-side worry.)...

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Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels: On First Things and R.E. Reno's Mammon-Coronavirus Death Cult https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/from-_first-things_-rr-reno-tells-us-that-a-culture-of-life-is-all-very-fine-when-it-comes-to-bullying-women-but-not-wh.html#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a519c2e9200b: 'Not cancelling a small dinner party is exactly the same as refusing to cower under the Nazi heel and allowing the death camps to operate for a generation. Therefore, by imagining having a small dinner party, I personally am as great as Churchill or possibly Jesus of Nazareth. I haven't decided yet. If only they'd had a love child, Jeston of Nazhill...

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Comment of the Day: JEC: On First Things and Its Mammon-Coronavirus Death Cult https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/from-_first-things_-rr-reno-tells-us-that-a-culture-of-life-is-all-very-fine-when-it-comes-to-bullying-women-but-not-wh.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4f519bf200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4f519bf200d: 'I see a number of lessons to be learned here. Lesson 1: Don't read Twitter. It never ends well. Lesson 2: If your desire to be "interesting" leads you to celebrate an apocalyptic death cult, reconsider your life choices. Lesson 3: If someone invites you to a literal Masque of the Red Death, chain them to an alcove in your basement and wall them up. This is an important public health measure....

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Comment of the Day: The Trump Administration Has Made America #1: Worst in the World at Coronavirus Response: Ronald Brakels https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/the-trump-administration-has-made-america-1-worst-in-the-world-at-coronavirus-response.html#comment-6a00e551f080038834025d9b3f29b6200c: 'Australia's Coronavirus fiscal stimulus is 9.7% of GDP. I think this is the largest peacetime fiscal stimulus by a developed nation. Hopefully, now they are taking the economic effects seriously, the Australian Federal Government will start taking the disease seriously. At least Western Australia and South Australia have islanded themselves, while Tasmania actually is an island. The other three states though... Well, you can walk between them being eaten by a shark, a dingo, or desolation...

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A Note on Coronavirus

Comment of the Day: A Note on Coronavirus https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/a-note-on-coronavirus.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4f0002c200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4f0002c200d: Is there anything wrong with this analysis?... Now about 22,000 people have and in the next week about 44,000 people in the U.S. will catch coronavirus. These numbers could be five times too big. These numbers could be five times too small.... Ronald Brakels: 'It's now coming up to spring in the Northern hemisphere and warmer temperatures and higher humidity will slow the spread of the virus. People should also be taking precautions since they are forewarned, unlike the inhabitants of Wuhan. But yeah, there's plenty of potential for large scale outbreaks in the US, so your back of the envelope estimate may not be too far off. I'm more optimistic about the rate of spread, it's going to be 29 degrees Celsius in Houston on Wednesday, but what do I know?...' Mark Field: 'According to Johns Hopkins, the median time until death was about 33 days.... As for the doubling rate, 2 weeks ago Italy had 9 cases. Now it has 5800. Since Trump is deliberately suppressing the ability to diagnose cases, we have to estimate as the good prof has done here.... Ronald Brakels: 'Thinking about it, if 22,000 people have COVID-19 new centers of infection should be becoming apparent. If 11,000 people currently have it and have passed through the incubation period and developed symptoms there should be around 2,000+ severe cases coming to the attention of medical professionals. While this is nothing compared to the 490,000 US hospitalizations due to the flu last year, I presume there would be enough concentration in new centers of infection for suspicions to be raised. If there are normally 2,000 flu hospitalizations a day in the US at this time of year, an extra 200 or so a day concentrated in a few clusters should ring alarm bells. Unless of course it's more difficult to detect the signal than I think, or the United States is particularly bad at this sort of thing despite having months of warning.... I suspect the rate of doubling is slower than in Brad's back of the envelope calculation. This is not surprising, people have changed their behavior and the US is less crowded than China, South Korea, or Italy. Also, the United States may have been lucky with very few clusters forming in the wild. But in about a week we should be able to say if the United States has been fortunate or unfortunate...

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Comment of the Day: Perhaps the greatest harm done by Robert Bork and Richard Posner to American well-being https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/02/perhaps-the-greatest-harm-done-by-robert-bork-and-richard-posner-to-american-well-being-was-their-extremely-aggressive-push-o.html#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4ec967e200d was their extremely aggressive push of the idea that vertical integration could never be bad.... pgl: 'How did Bork and Posner miss this excellent discussion? https://www.jstor.org/stable/1802783?seq=1 Fred M. Westfield: Vertical Integration: Does Product Price Rise or Fall?...

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Kaleberg: 'I remember the panic about fake geek girls. https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/john-scalzi-2012-_who-gets-to-be-a-geek-anyone-who-wants-to-be-whatever_-the-other-day-cnn-let-some-dude-named.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4d8a346200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4d8a346200d Since I knew plenty of real geek girls, I never had such worries. Still, my favorite take is in: http://nonadventures.com/2012/08/18/my-nerd-is-bond/:

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Comment of the Day: Howard https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/the-policy-debate-europe-needs-by-barry-eichengreen-project-syndicate.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4af592b200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4af592b200c: 'Honest to goodness, did none of these moronic European policy makers ever study the rise of fascism in Germany? Did they not notice that it wasn't inflation, it was austerity that paved the way? wWat could possibly justify this stubborn stupidity?...

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Comment of the Day: Kaleberg: Feminism https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/feminism-1.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd48d2200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd48d2200b: 'I think your tone is good enough, but I think that a lot more was going on than simply rising productivity. (1) Women do better in monetized societies, that is, in places where there is an objective measure of value that can translate into social status. (2) Women do better in urbanized societies, that is, in places with a variety of trades and where one is forced to accept one's interdependence. (3)Women do better in demilitarized societies, that is, in places where the use of armed force is a less important component of citizenship. These all overlap. The Enlightenment ideas of the early 18th century encouraged thinking in terms of objective measures of value being more important than ancestry, recognizing that no man is an island unto himself and the increasing professionalization of armed forces...

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Nilso: Tax Frenzies and How to Hose Them Dow https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/john-scalzi-2010-_tax-frenzies-and-how-to-hose-them-down_-i-really-dont-know-what-you-do-about-the-taxes-are.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd42e6200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd42e6200b: 'I live in Jackson County, Oregon, home to Ashland (and Phoenix, Talent and Medford). We have taxes. Nearby Josephine County (home of Cave Junction) has not, until recently, voted for a property tax increase in so many years, that their policing had to be taken over by Oregon State Police. Needless to say, the result was meth-heads having car-chase shootouts in broad daylight, etc. Finally they realized this was a disaster and voted for enough of a property tax to get a sherriff back on the payroll. This has been an instructive case in point...

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I would simply remark that an awful lot of the written record inherited from antiquity is a weird combination of Foreign Affairs the National Enquirer, and should be read—both when it speaks about the disempowered and the empowered—with the hermeneutic of suspicion one would apply to those publications today: Comment of the Day: Philip Koop https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/mitchell-carroll-_greek-women_-phryne-with-a-modesty-one-would-not-expect-in-a-woman-of-her-class-was-very-careful.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4a741db200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4a741db200c: 'Here is something that James Davidson had to say about Phryne in his book Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens: "These megalomisthoi hetaerai are the rich and famous ones, the ones catalogued in scholarly treatises, who had plays written about them and speeches composed on their behalf, the ones whose bons mots were recorded in anecdotal collections like those of Machon and Lynceus of Samos. Thanks to Apollodorus’ speech and a comedy of Timocles named after her, Neaera herself could claim a place on this exalted list along with Laïs the younger, Laïs the elder, Sinope, Mania, Gnathaena, Naïs, Thaïs and many others. Of all of these Phryne was perhaps the most renowned. Like Theodote, she allowed artists to paint her. It was she who modelled for Praxiteles, it was said, his revolutionary female nude, first of its kind, known as the Venus of Cnidus, and, for Apelles, the Birth of Venus that was reimagined so famously by Botticelli. Another statue sua ipsa persona, again modelled by Praxiteles in gilt or gold, was dedicated at Delphi and placed between Philip of Macedon and Archidamus, King of Sparta. It was a dedication, said the Cynic Crates, to Greek self-indulgence. These works of art not only immortalized the form of Phryne for posterity but spread her image throughout Greece. According to Callistratus in his work On Hetaeras, she became so rich that after the Macedonians had razed the city of Thebes to the ground she said she would pay for the city wall to be rebuilt, providing the citizens put up an inscription: ‘Alexander may have knocked it down, but Phryne the hetaera got it back up again’, one of the very few occasions when these women gave themselves the label...

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Comment of the Day: Ray Vinmad: Ersatz Better Angels? http://crookedtimber.org/2019/12/04/ersatz-better-angels/: 'I love this more than I can say. I’m curious about the work done by the ‘Steelwool Scrub.’ There’s a related phenomenon where people believe that they aren’t scrubbing the beliefs so much as giving their origins. The idea is that there has to be some kind of bridge between a faith-based but bigoted belief schema and a liberal universalist belief schema–assuming that the faith-based-but-bigoted is really sort of due to the historical lag religious doctrine seems to force upon orthodox religious believers. (The less orthodox tend to catch up faster.) Eventually, the hope is that the religious doctrine and egalitarian principles will meet up once the believers cross over the bridge. You could call the religious origin stories of bigoted belief ‘believer breadcrumbs.’ Genealogies have a way of lessening the grip on people over time of certain belief systems. Or perhaps people doing this also aren’t working in good faith but are doing something more like ‘Steelman Airbag’ where they are creating a soft landing for the bigoted. We’re supposed to be less angry at their bigotry because these origins are mitigating factors. A problem of course is that a lot of people leading these orthodox believers see the bigotry as an attraction rather than a liability–and that’s likely true. There are surely some people who flock to orthodox belief systems because of the free steelwool...

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Spencer claims:

Spencer: Which Political Party's Policies Boost Investment in America, Again? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/which-political-partys-policies-boost-investment-in-america-again.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4a509dd200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4a509dd200c: 'This is in nominal dollars. However, the sharp drop in the price of computing power changes the data significantly. Look at real business investment as a share of real GDP and it looks very different...

Spencer is wrong. "It" does not look very different. Yes, moving to real/real imparts a substantial upward trend to the investment share over time. But it does not change "it". It does not change the red-president/blue-president pattern:

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Comment of the Day: Impressed https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/note-to-self-one-take-on-how-we-can-learn-better-andy-matuschak-and-michael-nielsen-_how-can-we-develop-transfo.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4f1a44c200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4f1a44c200b: On Quantum Country 'Thanks for consuming a full day of my weekend reviewing matrix mathematics and learning the basics of quantum computing. I highly recommend people view http://quantum.country and if necessary, view the recommended matrix videos. I didn't realize quantum computing was this easy to understand. Computers are absolutely revolutionizing the learning process. The video series on matrix mathematics suggested at http://quantum.country is astounding in its clarity. Commenters agree—the new generation of students have unprecidented learning tools which can condence a month or more of learning into a single day. The visualizations in the video series are astounding. I wish I had these available when I originally learned this subject. The mnemonic medium mentioned is very similar to they way I learned Skinner's behaviorism. It was presented in the same kind of manner, but all within a single workbook which included the repetitive review at the proper intervals. As I previously stated years ago, it was extremely effective, and nobody in the survey class received less than a B...

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Comment of the Day: Brad DeLong: "Yes, the Communist Manifesto Is Worth Reading. Why Do You Ask?" https://twitter.com/delong/status/1198452201531703296 Ashton Kemerling: "If you can’t read things you disagree with, you’ll never ever get anywhere. Besides, Marx had a pretty good critique of capitalism, even if you’re not sold by his recommendations. Dad, Capital is a really hard read though." Brad DeLong: "Which is why when I control the syllabus I assign the Manifesto; Wage Labor & Capital; the Gotha Program; (maybe) On the Jewish Question; and Value, Price, and Profit..."

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Comment of the Day: Kansas Jack on Mark Knopfler: Good On You Son https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/mark-knopfler-good-on-you-son-for-the-weekend.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4c2a9ab200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4c2a9ab200d: 'Agree with all this. Knopfler is like the tectonic plates moving. It's huge, but mostly unseen and unappreciated. Such smooth guitar and subtle lyrics. And when unsubtle...well, "Money for Nothin'" gets sanitized (even on Sirius) but the offending lyric is exactly how a lot of guys in the 80s talked, which is the whole point. Every time a radio station skips that line I tell myself, "Hey, Huckleberry Finn gets banned over a bad word too but Twain uses that word to point out the evil." Knopfler's solo album Shangri-La was welcomed with mixed reviews (Rolling Stone gave it 3.5 stars which is typically the clearest signal it is a 5-star record) but go back and listen to how easily he makes those chords, lets a few notes just hang in the air, he's a story teller. It is folk and blues and just a classic. Kick back and listen to the lyrics and his haunting guitar expertise. His take on Ray Kroc is so understated and cool, "If they're gonna drown stick a hose in their mouth," he has Ray mumbling about his buying out the McDonald brothers. I dare anyone to listen to the song about Sonny Liston and not be moved. And a juxtaposition of gangsters and coal miners with lyrics like, "There beneath a bridge comes to a giant car/A shroud of snow upon the roof. A Mark X jag-u-ar./Thought the man was fast asleep./Silent still and deep./ No. Both dead and cold./Shot through with bullet hoooooooooles." I just typed that from memory, excuses if I missed a word or two. Knopfler's music is poetry...

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Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/gdp-b-accounting-for-the-value-of-new-and-free-goods-in-the-digital-economy.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48e6cf3200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48e6cf3200c re "GDP-B: Accounting for the Value of New and Free Goods in the Digital Economy": 'It's a very interesting question, but I will say any country that needs to rely on the unmeasured benefits of new technology to be able to say life has improved over the past generation or two for the lower income half of their population is doing something wrong...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: "'Truth' and 'facts' are different; "truth" is a statement about the inside of someone's head. (Generally one's own head.)

"facts" are that stuff independent of any particular person's imagination of the world. Facts are inherently collective.

If you've got enough money, you can blur this hopelessly because there's a bug in the wetware and anything that gets repeated enough becomes true. It helps a lot if the repeated thing is simple.

Keeping a political process facts-based is a hard problem, because you're effectively expecting people to prefer an effective process to getting what they want. That's challenging.

So there's a structural advantage on the "repeat lies" side. Any sensible framework of laws would take this into account...

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Adrian: The 1600 Military Revolution and the Islamic World 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=6a00e551f0800388340240a4c057ab200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4c057ab200d: 'Since the turn of the millennium there has been a fast developing historical literature on this. Khan (2004) on Mughals; Agoston (2005) on Ottomans; and Streusand (2011) on both + Safavids. State of the art is the idea of a Eurasian rather than European gunpowder revolution. But there is still perhaps something different emerging in C17th century Europe. In 1500 the Ottomans are the cutting edge by 1700 they look old fashioned.

Scott P.: "Well, in 1500 the Spanish are the cutting edge by 1700 they look old-fashioned, too....

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Comment of the Day: Maynard Handley https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/very-briefly-noted-2019-10-07-1-clearkimura-_how-to-convert-document-from-google-docs-to-text-file_-no-need-to.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b711d1200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b711d1200d in "How to Convert Document from Google Docs to Text File"Even more useful is that Google Docs provides access to what has been (in my experience) by far the best OCR system available. Upload a JPG (and I'm guessing probably other image formats like PDF scans, but I haven't yet tried that) to your Google Drive, and then in your browser in the Google Drive window, right/ctrl-click on the image and choose "Open in Google Docs". You'll get a document opened with the text of the image. I've found that this works not just for the easy cases, but even the tough stuff -- small low quality images, multiple columns, things like that. A little more hassle than the various OCR+scanner apps I've paid for but vastly higher quality. (Supposedly MS Live can do the same thing, but I tried getting to MS' OCR from a dozen different angles, on iOS and Mac, through the web and through OneNote, and gave it up. MS may have the greatest OCR scheme on earth, but they've hidden access to it so well it's useless to me.) (Apple have adopted a strange tactic WRT to OCR. Many things on an iOS13 system are automatically text OCR'd, like any scans or images you dump into Notes or Messages. And this text is indexed, so that the relevant scans/images appear in searches. But you can't get at the underlying text for other purposes, whether to edit it or just to read it. It's unclear if this was just not enough time to ship by iOS13, or if it's an attempt to warn other OCR vendors to find some other app category soon, so that there's less grumbling and the usual anti-competitive complaints when Apple does ship. Either way, this particular design choice means that, at least right now, I can't yet compare the quality of Apple's work to that of Google.)...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Comment of the Day: Harold Carmel https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/march-of-the-peacocks-the-new-york-times.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b269b1200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b269b1200d in Paul Krugman: March of the Peacocks: "As Prof. DeLong has often pointed out, Obama's turn toward austerity in that SOTU was a very dumb policy idea. Obama's negotiating style was to split the difference with the GOP in his initial offer, assuming the Republicans were bargaining in good faith. Of course, they weren't. Obama presented himself as post-partisan and thought the Republicans would reciprocate. How did that work out? An important lesson for the current Democratic presidential race....

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Comment of the Day: Phil Koop https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/quantum-supremacy.html#tpe-action-resize-355 on Quantum Supremacy in reply to Kaleberg: "Your objection is mistaken, as Scott Aaronson explains:

Q12. Even so, there are countless examples of materials and chemical reactions that are hard to classically simulate, as well as special-purpose quantum simulators (like those of Lukin’s group at Harvard). Why don’t these already count as quantum computational supremacy?

Under some people’s definitions of “quantum computational supremacy,” they do! The key difference with Google’s effort is that they have a fully programmable device—one that you can program with an arbitrary sequence of nearest-neighbor 2-qubit gates, just by sending the appropriate signals from your classical computer. In other words, it’s no longer open to the QC skeptics to sneer that, sure, there are quantum systems that are hard to simulate classically, but that’s just because nature is hard to simulate, and 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.”...

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Comment of the Day: Kaleberg https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/hoisted-from-teh-archives-from-2006-tightwad-hill.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b47837200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b47837200d: "There's a reason David Lodge, in his Changing Places, set up Euphoric State University to contrast against the University of Rummidge, a thinly disguised University of Birmingham. Physically quite different, they were both complex mazes of bureaucracy, idiocy and academic power plays. I mainly knew UCB computer science types, mainly graduate students. They were used to pain in the ass computers, so the institution bothered them less. Besides, they all had obvious fall backs and side gigs across the bay. The humanities types I knew there called it 'Beserkely'. Becoming a small fish in a big pond is a common problem at MIT. For just about any given task that you find at the edge of your abilities, there are going to be a good number of people who find it 'intuitively obvious'. When I went to MIT there were three physics tracks for those who hadn't placed out of the course (via AP test or prior credits). Drop date was almost two months into the term, and one could easily transfer before then. MIT admits students based on grades and enthusiasm. There is almost always a number of tasks that one finds intuitively obvious but seems nearly impossible to the rest of the class...

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Comment of the Day: Ebenezer Scrooge: "I've never met an absolute property right. Every damned one of them has an exception. Even a person's right to their own labor—the inalienable right guaranteed by the 13th Amendment—is subject to the draft, imprisonment, and covenants not to compete. Non-allodial rights in real estate are conditional on paying taxes and subject to takings. (While on takings, not all takings are compensated.) Copyright is subject to fair use. Property rights of use ('enjoyment', in the Hegelian trichotomy) are subject to many restrictions—consider all the things you could do with a baseball bat that would result in jail time. Property rights of exclusion or alienation I'll leave as an exercise to the reader. Etc., etc. The proper term is 'strong' property right....

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Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: This is fun! When it comes to Santa Claus, there's one thing I know for sure. He's the last great follower of Ayn Rand. When it comes to J. R. R. Tolkien, there's one thing I know for sure. He kept it brief! When it comes to Erich von Daniken, there's one thing I know for sure. He's one of the great scholars of our time! When it comes to General Custer, there's one thing I know for sure. He's one of the Great Captains. When it comes to me, there's one thing I know for sure. I provide hours of high quality comment on this blog...

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Comment of the Day: Ebenezer Scrooge: "I don't see it. The various wings of the Republican Party, ever since Nixon, have always been a coalition of losers from the democratic process who realized that they can each win in their respective sphere if they just gang up with the other losers. They never have any respect for the others' spheres. The neocons always knew their allies were evil plutocrats, racists, and Talibans. The Talibans always knew their allies were godless plutocrats and Jews. (Some Talibans are racists: others are not.) The racists always knew their allies were godbags, moneybags, and big beautiful mosaic types. But each of these groups knew that they needed the others to get their own goals. And they still know it. On this backdrop, the squabbles of a few intellectuals are irrelevant...

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Comment of the Day: RW: "Cultures do not articulate authoritarianism the same everywhere; e.g., Trump/Johnsonism appears less 1984 and more Brave New World: 'What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture." —Neil Postman...

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