Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (November 2016)


Blog: Otium | A Return to Discussion

Blog: Slate Star Codex | SSC Journal Club: Expert Prediction of Experiments

Blog: Overcoming Bias | My Play -- "In recent posts I said that play is ancient and robust, and I outlined what play consists of. I claimed that play is a powerful concept, but I haven’t supported that claim much. Today, I’ll consider some personal examples..."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | How much did tariffs drive 19th century U.S. economic growth? -- "Not so much:..."

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Cuba's Glum Economic Forecast -- "For all of my adult life I have been hearing that Cuba will blossom economically when Fidel Castro passes away. Now that time has come, and it seems Cuba will continue to struggle."

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | May you live long enough to be an old dog


Blog: Schneier on Security | Hacking and the 2016 Presidential Election -- cf. FiveThirtyEight | Demographics, Not Hacking, Explain The Election Results


Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Quantum computing news (98% Trump-free)


Blog: Thing of Things | Bad Outcomes of a Trump Presidency

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Trump probably won’t much reverse the current clean energy policies -- Making American Great Again–The FDA -- Making America Great Again–Term Limits -- Does Trump spell climate doom? -- Betsy DeVos, selected for Secretary of Education

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Arguments to ponder for Thanksgiving -- "The population of wild koalas in the southeast portion of Australia’s Queensland state has plunged by 80% in less than two decades, but researchers are offering a simple plan to save them. They can sum it up in three words: daylight saving time."

Comic: xkcd | Catcalling

Blog: Status 451 | Of Monoliths And Mesh Networks


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | What If Trump Wanted More Illegal Immigration? Wait, He's On It! -- "I would start by recommending an enormous new program of fiscal stimulus and construction..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Clinton Won the Economy -- "[T]he less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Medical Spending Variation: 1/2 Patients, 1/2 Places -- "By scrutinizing millions of Medicare patients who have moved from one place to another, the researchers have found that patients and providers account for virtually equal shares of the differences in regional spending."


Blog: Thing of Things | On the Presidential Election -- "I think it is a problem that Republican voters who care about white identity politics seem willing to elect incompetent people. While identity politics also plays a role in the Democratic nominating process, at least identity-politics-motivated voters on the left seem to favor qualified centrists with a slight penchant for war crimes. I do not know how to get identity-politics-motivated voters on the right to share this preference..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Safety Transformation and the Structure of the Financial System -- "This paper develops a model of how the financial system is organized to most effectively create safe assets and analyzes its implications for asset prices, capital structure, and macroeconomic policy.", the job market paper from William Diamond, from Harvard.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What if foreign countries could just bribe the American president? -- "I know bribing a president is illegal and it just…sounds so wrong…but what exactly does the equilibrium look like?" Tyler concludes, not as different as you might expect.

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Careful Who You Call ‘Racist’


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Bravo to Janet Yellen -- "Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen warned lawmakers that as they consider such spending, they should keep an eye on the national debt. Yellen also said that while the economy needed a big boost with fiscal stimulus after the financial crisis, that’s not the case now." Meanwhile, Trump says that he won't ask Yellen to resign when he takes office, though he will look to replace her when her term expires in 2018.


Comic: xkcd | Blame

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Dial It Back -- "I've been disturbed by rising US political polarization over recent decades, with each election accompanied by more extreme rhetoric saying 'absolutely everything is now at stake!' And I’ve been worried that important social institutions could erode when more people believe such claims."

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | Complaints about relative coverage just aren’t useful

Blog: Schneier on Security | Using Wi-Fi to Detect Hand Motions and Steal Passwords -- "In this study, we present WindTalker, a novel and practical keystroke inference framework that allows an attacker to infer the sensitive keystrokes on a mobile device through WiFi-based side-channel information."

Blog: What Is The Most Underrated American Poem? -- h/t Tyler Cowen


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Trump, Political Innovator -- "You can dislike political innovation in general. But if innovation is the process of adapting to changing conditions, it must be mostly a question of when, not if. And less frequent innovations are probably bigger changes, which is probably more disruptive overall. So what you should really be asking is: what were the obstacles to smaller past innovations in Trump’s new direction? And how can we reduce such obstacles?"

Blog: Thing of Thigns | Truth Matters

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Which macroeconomic theories will rise and fall in status because of Donald Trump? -- Tyler Cowen, asking the important questions.


Blog: FiveThirtyEight | ‘Shy’ Voters Probably Aren’t Why The Polls Missed Trump

Blog: Slate Star Codex | You Are Still Crying Wolf -- Tyler Cowen: "but I think it is naive, and suspect he has never really lived under deeply racist conditions."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | In defense of Facebook -- "How about comparing Facebook to what other people tell you? What a load of crock they are. People, pshaw. Just think about their algorithms. At least Facebook has access to The Washington Post."

Blog: Schneier on Security | Mass Spectroscopy for Surveillance -- "These findings introduce an additional form of trace evidence from skin-associated lifestyle chemicals found on personal belongings. Such information could help a criminal investigator narrowing down the owner of an object found at a crime scene, such as a suspect or missing person..."

Comic: xkcd | TV Problems -- "Don't you have a computer science degree? / That just means I understand how everything went so wrong."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | My conversation with Fuchsia Dunlop -- Maybe high-level conversations about Shanghainese culinary culture are your thing.

Blog: GatesNotes | A Perfume that Smells Like Poop -- Bill Gates goes on a tour of a perfume manufacturer experimenting with the smells of toilets, for great justice sanitation in India.

Blog: Zeldman.com | Do Not Go Gentle into that iTunes Store -- "Tricking kids is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Building a beautiful front-end but neglecting customer service is wrong. Mainly, I’ve just had enough of 2016’s bullshit."

Blog: eleVR | Book Pile -- I want to read approximately every one of these books.


Long: Vanity Fair | Michael Lewis on Kahneman and Tversky -- "The risk of running directly into enemy tanks and planes was the least of it. There were land mines everywhere; it was easy to get lost. 'They didn’t have guards,' said Daniela Gordon, their commanding officer. 'They guarded themselves.' All of them felt less concern for Amos than for Danny. 'We were very worried about sending Danny on his own,' said Eli Fishoff, head of the field psychologists. 'I wasn’t so worried about Amos—because Amos was a fighter.'" h/t Tyler Cowen.

Blog: Schneier on Security | Election Security

Blog: Thing of Things | Epistemic Closure Reading Challenge -- Interesting, though first I'd need to be in a place where I was reading enough books for this to be meaningful, so...

Blog: Bloomberg View | There's Legal Intrigue at the World Chess Match -- Can a media company reserve the right to report chess moves in real time? h/t Tyler Cowen


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | The Trouble With Trump's Infrastructure Plan -- This is I think the most sophisticated analysis on the subject that I've read. Then again, most of the rest of it is just yelling or mumbling. (Tyler's title on MR is "Don’t use measured gdp as a way to evaluate stimulus plans".)


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The coalition for diversity whose diversity did diversity just win?

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | They’re going to keep losing -- "You know for a brief moment there, on Wednesday, I thought that there was a chance that we’d see change where it’s needed, from the Democrats and from the liberal media that drives so much of Democrat messaging and strategy..."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | “Our Principles” -- "The problem with standing for principles is that it allows you to remain unsullied by the political fray, to stand back and wait until yet another presidential election cycle when 'our principles' can perhaps be applied. And if we lose, it’s OK, because we still have 'our principles.' What Trump has been able to seize upon is growing dissatisfaction with this endless deferral..."

Self: My Faults My Own | Remembering Aaron Swartz -- including a review of The Idealist, by Justin Peters


Blog: Otium | On Trying Not To Be Wrong -- "[2016 is] real, not surreal. If reality looks weird, this means our stories about it are wrong."

Short: Brookings | The TPP is dead, long live the TPP -- arguing that a US-less trans-pacific partnership may be even more important to the other eleven countries in a global trade war. h/t Tyler Cowen.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Saudi Arabia fact of the day -- "[T]he Saudi adult population will more than double in the next fifteen years, driving subsidies and other government payments to unsustainable levels." Something of context for the Saudi government's move to diversify out of a stake of Saudi Aramco, but obviously that won't be enough...

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Will the Trump administration repeal Dodd-Frank? -- "It seems so, based on the nature of the transition team, the stock market reaction to Trump’s election, what the Trump web site says they will do, and what they have the power to do." See also Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Let's Think Again About Dodd--Frank.

Blog: Schneier on Security | Fooling Facial Recognition Systems -- "This is some interesting research. You can fool facial recognition systems by wearing glasses printed with elements of other people's faces..."

Blog: Sam Stoddard @ Magic Daily | The Ingredients for Great Vanillas

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Never, never, never normalize this


Blog: Marginal Revolution | How bad is it to hire an ex-con? -- "[I]ndividuals with criminal records have an involuntary separation rate that is no higher than that of other employees and a voluntary separation rate that is much lower. Employees with a criminal record do have a slightly higher overall rate of discharge for misconduct than do employees without a record, although we find increased misconduct only for sales positions. We also find that firms that do not use information about criminal backgrounds seem to compensate by placing more weight on qualifications that are correlated with a criminal record, such as low educational attainment."

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Book Review: House of God -- "All I can say is that it was really well done. The whole thing had a touch of magical realism, which turns out to be exactly the right genre for a story about medicine. Real medicine is absolutely magical realist. It’s a series of bizarre occurrences just on the edge of plausibility happening to incredibly strange people for life-and-death stakes, day after day after day, all within the context of the weirdest and most byzantine bureaucracy known to humankind."


Blog: Bits and Pieces | My remarks to the faculty in support of the nondiscrimination motion