#commentoftheday Feed

Comment of the Day: RW: Disrupting Education: "'Will we ever create tech (even for a few subjects) that will work as well as good one-on-one tutoring?'...

...That already has been done in a limited, skill-building way; e.g., Kahn Academy as noted in the root ms of this thread. But teaching is more complicated than that; e.g., developing the abilities of groups of students who are not your own children or even your own tribe introduces wrinkles even before you get the question of what kinds of abilities the students might consider most valuable. Tech can't be about teaching (yet) and if it is to be about tutoring at more complex levels it needs to emphasize tech's strengths rather than attempting to emulate teachers; i.e., what computers do best is exhaustive data traversal and rules-based analysis.

NB: Years ago I had a discussion with some folks developing a biochemistry program at UCLA that involved tracking each student's steps in solving a problem set and generated a report showing the path each student took. This was not constrained to achieving the correct answer or even just the number of steps it took. The program conducted a path analysis and one of the report elements was how 'splayed' the path appeared; that is, did the path reveal a tighter pattern suggestive of conceptual understanding or did it suggest the student was following leads in unprofitable directions, not intuitively sure of where the answer might lie. Not sure where that program wound up but it seemed like the right idea to me: let the computer do what it does best then let the teacher do what they do best.

"In the last analysis, we must come to the inevitable conclusion that education can be imparted only by a teacher and not wholly by a method ... Just as a water tank can be filled only with water and fire can be kindled with fire, life can be inspired with life ... However it may be, we want a human being in every sphere of our life. The mere pill of a method instead shall not bring us salvation." –Rabindranath Tagore


Comment of the Day: Ethan: Live from Global Warming Gehenna: "We used to call it 'Global Warming'. Later we called it 'Climate Change'. I have long preferred to call it 'Excess Solar Energy Trapped in the Bio-sphere'. That seems to me to explain it better. More energy = more movement. Storms, wind, melting ice, tides, whatever—the energy is going to go somewhere..."

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Comment of the Day: This is really nuts! When's the crash?: Spike: Ethereum! Blockchain! BitCoin!: "There is a nut of some interesting technology ideas involving blockchains that could potentially have applications that would be useful to explore...

...In short, by allowing for the synchronization of data structures across a multitude of systems without requiring any single one of those systems to be "in charge," the tech enables the development a unique class of applications, the properties of which we don't yet understand. The first of these applications to be developed involved a system for tracking and transferring the the ownership of digital pogs-aka, Bitcoin. This capability was latched on to by crazed Ron Paul fans who see it as a tool for overthrowing the Fed, as well as by online drug dealers.

It was the online drug dealers who found the most actual use for it, and for a time the thing actually worked as a semi-functional currency given that specific context. The Ron Paul fans, for their part, were content to just keep buy the stuff and never sell it. It's digital gold! However, it was not libertarians or drug dealers that actually created this wealth, except to the extent that many people from those groups also belong to the group that is now running the show: outright charlatans. These are the people who have basically figured out how to manipulate prices on the various cyrptocurrency exchanges, in large part by "printing money" in a way that would make the Fed ashamed.

The dirty secret that everyone knows is that a huge portion of the various cryptocurrency being traded is not being exchanged for actual money, but rather for something called "Tether," which have been created on the premise that every Tether in existence is backed by hard fiat currency in the form of a US dollar sitting in a bank account somewhere. Oddly enough, that bank account has never been audited, but the full faith and credit of the Tether Company seems good enough for teh market.

And yet, somehow a whole bunch of Tethers magically come into existence before every hike in the price of Bitcoin. So, these Tethers have been used to bid up the price of cryptocurrencies beyond all reason, and this has been magnified by a level of media hype that has brought in dumb-money "investors" out of the woodwork. This has had the infuriating effect of making Ron Paul fans very rich - at least on paper.

However, the cracks in the whole thing are showing as it becomes more and more apparent that actually extracting money from this system is very difficult. Bitcoin's usefulness as an actual currency went out the window months ago, as the price of conducting transactions has gone through the roof. And of course, the computers behind it use as much electricity as Ireland.

The whole thing is so goddamn unsustainable.



Should-Read: Chris Ellis: Bitcoin: Additional Suspicious Developments-Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF (Pending:COIN): "Summary: Tethers are being issued at a pace of 13 billion per year...

  • No one knows where the money is, but no one seems to care.

  • Bitfinex halted new accounts registrations.

  • Bitfinex employee's profile suggests that he or the company is being investigated.

  • Tether Limited runs the Bitfinex playbook by imposing redemption minimums, effectively freezing customer funds.

  • This idea was discussed in more depth with members of my private investing community, Core Value Portfolio.

In my previous articles, I talked about the surprising correlation between the supply of Tether and the price of Bitcoin.... There are good reasons to believe that Tether Limited is issuing Tethers that are not backed by USD as promised in order to purchase Bitcoin through Bitfinex.... I believe that Tether's correlation to Bitcoin is no simple coincidence. It continues to baffle me why this issue is not the most talked about topic in the Bitcoin community.... At the time of writing, there were over 1.2 billion Tethers outstanding. Meanwhile, no one actually knows or seems to care about where Tether Limited is holding the USD funds. If market participants truly care about the integrity of the cryptocurrency, this should be the most pressing issue at hand....

Many readers have urged me to forward my findings to relevant authorities, and it is interesting to note that a Bitfinex employee's warrant canaries have disappeared. Warrant canaries serve as a warning mechanism that indirectly indicates to the public that the related entities have not been investigated. Their disappearance implies that he or the firm are being investigated by law enforcement...."


Comment of the Day: heebie-geebie: Awfully Specific Advice: "Always draw the unit circle before you draw the axes, on the chalkboard. It's easier to aim the axes through the middle of the circle than it is to center the circle on the axes..."


An Appeal to the Republican-Supporting Plutocrats of America

Comment of the Day: JEC: An Appeal to the Republican-Supporting Plutocrats of America: "I've written more about this in my own space, but the short version is: 'Would somebody please remind the plutocrats that they are not the kleptocrats' natural allies; they are the kleptocrats' natural prey?'...

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Comment of the Day: But, alas, I think Robert Waldmann has the completely wrong. Draw the graph, Robert! What areas on what graphs does Greg's calculation correspond to? Please tell me!: Robert Waldmann: DeLong & Krugman vs Mankiw and Mulligan III: "Just click the links...

...I finally understand that Brad too is asking a very similarly odd question. The only difference is that Brad considers a tax on capital (tau)k not on capital income (t)f'(k)k. This makes the difference...

No, I do not think that it does.

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Comment of the Day: With respect to my time as DAS at the Treasury... I would have quit before I would have done the equivalent of what Holtz-Eakin has done. And one of scariest moment of my life was Lloyd Bentsen during the NAFTA debate looking at one of our presentations, looking at me, and saying: "Do you really believe this, or are you just trying to please me? It it is the second, you are useless to me." Plus there was Laura Tyson shutting down the message people who wanted her to shade her health care reform presentation with: "Fine. If that's what you want, I will go out there and say: 'This press conference is cancelled: right now is the only time in the next six months I could get an appointment at the HMO'": Robert Waldmann: : "It isn't just laughable. I think it is possible (and uninteresting) to prove that the communicative intent of the text is not the laughable interpretation...

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Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: This Is Your Reminder...: "James Madison was appalled that the Constitutional Convention agreed to equal state representation in the Senate. He was dragged kicking and screaming into accepting that compromise (it's a bit odd to think nowadays that New Jersey—perhaps no longer a "large" state, but certainly, in population, considerably above the median—was then the leader of the small state bloc)."


Comment of the Day: Joe B: Six Faces of Right-Wing Chain-Forging Economist James Buchanan...: "It seems to me that you need to provide some concrete examples of being "struck by the contrast". Where in the text, exactly, do Farrell and Teles bend over backward to be fair to Buchanan and unfair to MacLean?..."

Fair question...

Let's look at: Henry Farrell and Steven Teles: When Politics Drives Scholarship...

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Comment of the Day: I have evoked some rants from Robert Waldmann...: Robert Waldmann: Monday Smackdown: Oh Dear!: "It isn't exactly Robert Waldmann's critique...

...In 1982 someone told me that he thought macroeconomics had taken a wrong turn and commenced a sterile research program which would last decades and be fruitless. That's a lot more impressive than saying such a thing now.

Who was that guy? Oh yeah, his name was Brad DeLong.

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Comment of the Day: "Praise then darkness and creation unfinished"; "praise the fire and the impulse of making"; isn't there another large, very densely-written book by now?

Graydon: : ""Good" is a value judgement, subject to context and hindsight, and it's subject to hindsight forever...

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Comment of the Day: JEC argues, I think correctly, that Lawrence J. Christiano, Martin S. Eichenbaum, and Mathias Trabandt: On DSGE Models is significantly less serious and more bad than I had argued. I think he is correct: JEC: Monday Smackdown: Oh Dear!: "To understand the state of academic macroeconomics, it's worth reading the first two sentences of the paper under discussion. They go like this...

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Comment of the Day: Sir Kraab: "A Sikh, an athetist, and a trans woman walk into a bar. They all have a drink together to celebrate their electoral victories."


Comment of the Day: Kien Choong: Premature Keys to the Kingdom: "What to do if you are handed the keys of the Kingdom [of the heavens or of the proletarians] prematurely? Apply a dose of “Chinese characteristics”! (Preferably without the Cultural Revolution!) More seriously, the long-term goal is universal education, public health and social insurance, which Christians pioneered in the 1st century Roman Empire..."


Comment of the Day: Phil Koop: : "There are some not so surprising names on that list, but too many that are astonishing...

...How the hell can Dean Baker, Adam S. Posen, or Justin Wolfers be surprised that the author of Dow 36,000 is also the author of Wage Gain $9,000?..."


Comment of the Day: I would not say that Kevin Warsh is innumerate—I have never seen him claim anything like 36.5/85 = 0.20—but he does not reason coherently:

Sans Souci: : "'Bernanke['s view]... may well be true according to economic textbooks'...

...DEPARTMENT OF "HUH!?!?": QE HAS RETARDED BUSINESS INVESTMENT!? http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/10/department-of-huh-qe-has-retarded-business-investment.html... I score this for Bernanke: 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.

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Comment of the Day: Phil Koop: (Early) Monday John Cochrane "Arithmetic Is for Losers" Resmackdown: "'And yet this was, once, an economist...' 'An economist who becomes a Fellow of the Hoover Institution does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life.'"

I gotta add on to this quote:

‘He merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Bullshit to make himself active, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the Dark Power that rules the Bullshit. Yes, sooner or later – later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last – sooner or later the Dark Power will devour him.’

‘How terrifying!’ said Frodo. There was another long silence. The sound of Sam Gamgee cutting the lawn came in from the garden...


(Early) Monday John Cochrane "Arithmetic Is for Losers" Resmackdown

Clown show Google Search

Ah. A correspondent informs me that he has John Cochrane's response to my claims that:

  • 36.5/85 ≠ 20%,
  • he should not write that 36.5/85 = 20%, and
  • the Wall Street Journal should not print that 36.5/80 = 20%.

Could somebody at Hoover please do an intervention?

And if Hoover won't, could somebody at Stanford please do an intervention on Hoover?

Comment of the Day: Marc C.: Monday Smackdown: The Elementary Arithmetic of a Value-Added Tax (VAT): "Asked Cochrane if he would respond. [Cochrane wrote]:

No. The response is obvious and elementary. It's easy to calculate the VAT rate under various assumptions. Brad's insults, slanders, ad hominem attacks, and outright lies do not merit responses.

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Comment of the Day: Philip Koop: Monday Smackdown: The Elementary Arithmetic of a Value-Added Tax (VAT): "'But do the Wall Street Journal and the Hoover Institution really want to be in the business of rejecting not just reality but basic arithmetic as having a left-wing bias?'... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/10/highlighted-for-september-18-2017-the-elementary-arithmetic-of-a-value-added-tax-vat.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b7c925d884970b#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b7c925d884970b

...OK, made me laugh. Which of the Peano axioms would the Conservapedia reject, I wonder?

At first glance, the Schema of Induction seems like the best candidate (because of its promise of infinite plenitude), but that would leave us with Q, which is still strong enough to prove any particular theorem, just not one universally qualified. So I am stumped.


Comment of the Day: Graydon: Monday DeLong Smackdown: Noah Smith: Free Speech on Campus: "This is one of those moments when I despair of explaining something so basic I don't understand how people can be confused by it... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/09/monday-delong-smackdown-noah-smith-free-speech-on-campus.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b8d2aefef5970c#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b8d2aefef5970c

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Comment of the Day: JEC: "Any Community... Flourishes only When Our Members Feel Welcome and Safe...": "I see a couple of persistent misconceptions in this discussion... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/09/any-community-flourishes-only-when-our-members-feel-welcome-and-safe.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b7c922959a970b#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b7c922959a970b

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Comment of the Day: Longtooth: For the Filing Cabinet: Using Computers and Data Science Here in the Twenty-First Century...: "I got curious to see how fast a standard vba program could do the monte-carlo simulation with my laptop and unoptimized code... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/08/for-the-filing-cabinet-using-computers-and-data-science-here-in-the-twenty-first-century.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b7c91c51e5970b#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b7c91c51e5970b

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On Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War", Plus Rebuttal: Hoisted from the Archives from Five Years Ago

T on Niall Ferguson's WWI Book:

His WWI book was awful. It's entire premise is anachronistic, and it shows the same predilection for snide ad hominem attacks as the rest of his writing.

I beg to differ. I thought that Ferguson"s World War One book was pretty good. It suffered to a small degree from AJP Taylor disease, but a very mild case only--you learn a lot from TPoW http://amzn.to/2gnp2em, while you learn nothing—in fact, your Δ(knowledge) < 0—from Tayllor's Origins of WWII http://amzn.to/2gnp2em.

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Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: Weekend Reading: Stephen Vincent Benet: Army of Northern Virginia (From John Brown's Body): "It seems to me that John Brown's Body is a sadly neglected piece... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/08/weekend-reading-vachel-lindsay-army-of-northern-virginia-from-john-browns-body.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401bb09b9a749970d#comment-6a00e551f08003883401bb09b9a749970d

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Christopher Setterlund In My Footsteps In My Footsteps Trip 56 Marshfield Mass

Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: Weekend Reading: Stephen Vincent Benet: From John Brown's Body http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/08/weekend-reading-vachel-lindsay-army-of-northern-virginia-from-john-browns-body.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401bb09b9a749970d#comment-6a00e551f08003883401bb09b9a749970d: "At this juncture, one might turn to Benet's best known work, The Devil and Daniel Webster:

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