Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (November 2019)


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The CWT repackaging of my Conversation with Zuckerberg and Collison

Blog: Byrne Hobart @ Medium | The Meta-Malthusian Manifesto

Blog: Agenty Duck | Gratitude

Blog: JeffTK | Getting Ready for the FB Donation Match


Blog: Ben.Kuhn | Your room can be as bright as the outdoors

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Guest post by Greg Kuperberg: Archimedes’ other principle and quantum supremacy


Comic: xkcd | Aurora Meaning

Blog: Market Design | Matching officers to branches at West Point

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Genes and health insurance coverage

Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Childbirth and crime

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Best non-fiction books of 2019


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power — "[F]or now I’ll just note it is very much in the running for very best book of the year. It brings Native American history to life in a conceptual manner better than any other book I know."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Learning about the Roots of Progress from the History of Smallpox Eradication


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Favorite popular music listening for 2019


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Do social media drive the rise in right-wing populism? — "Overall, we do not find evidence that online/social media explain support for right-wing populist candidates and parties. Instead, in the USA, use of online media decreases support for right-wing populism..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | A journal editor speaks about referees (and authors) — "My advice is: write short reviews—don’t over referee or rewrite the paper—you are the reviewer, not the author. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Kindness is not the same as low standards, but posing questions and raising challenges with curiosity and humility. Always remember that an editor is reading the review, sharing it with other editors, and one’s nastiness is noted and remembered especially when directed towards a new member of the profession."

Blog: Hobart Byrne @ Medium | Pet Insurance Is The Only Working Health Insurance Market In The US

Blog: Marginal Revolution | More Pregnancy, Less Crime — Fatherhood reduces crime propensity more than 'three-strikes' threats, to say nothing of the effect of motherhood...

Blog: JeffTK | Solar One Year In — "So while I don't think rooftop solar makes much sense for society (unless we required systems to function during power outages, which we don't) and our roof is marginal for solar, it does look like our system is working out from a self-interested perspective..."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Problems with the TFP concept, from my new paper with Ben Southwood — "Let’s say someone invents a useful painkiller, and that makes it easier for many people to show up to work and be productive. Output will rise, yet that advance will show up as an increase in labor supply, rather than as an increase in technology or scientific knowledge. Similarly, a new method for discovering oil may boost output, but that will be classified as an increase in oil supply, even though it does properly represent a form of scientific progress..."

Comic: xkcd | The Time Before and After Land

Blog: Conversations with Tyler @ Medium | Shaka Senghor on Incarceration, Identity, and the Gift of Literacy

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Eliminate Journal Formatting on First Submission!


Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Free market health care — "[I]ndeed hospitals are paid to the extent that they claim that they were not paid. And this is a kickback... Hospitals are paid to the extent that they claim that they were not paid..."

Blog: 80,000 Hours Podcast | Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins on 8 years pursuing WMD arms control, & diversity in diplomacy

Blog: Wired | Google Shakes Up Its 'TGIF'—and Ends Its Culture of Openness — "In 2020, [Pichai] declared, the meetings would be limited to once a month, and they would be more constrained affairs, sticking to 'product and business strategy.'"


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Inflation Inequality Creates Winners and Losers — "Because the U.S. tech sector has advanced so much while many other parts of the economy have been relatively sluggish, the benefits from progress are now quite concentrated, though not in a way directly related to income. Rather, they accrue to people with a taste for a particular kind of novelty..."


Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Climate clarity — "Why is the climate policy world so blind to this elephant in the room? OK, I can see a certain lack of climate urgency in the Trump Administration, so that they would focus all China-whining on intellectual property and bilateral trade deficits might make sense. But why is the rest of the climate world not focused laser-like on the big problem, and so insistent on local efforts that will make no difference to anything?"

Blog: Wired | How the Iranian Government Shut Off the Internet — h/t Bruce Schneier.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Opioid deaths are not mainly about prescription opioids — "[P]rescription analgesics were detected without heroin or fentanyl in less than 17 percent of the cases. Furthermore, decedents had prescriptions for the opioids that showed up in toxicology tests just 1.3 percent of the time."


Blog: JeffTK | Lazy Compost is Worse Than Landfill — "Most advice you find is for aerobic composting: water your pile, turn it every couple weeks with a fork, include branches and similar things that keep air pockets. Aerobic composting gives off carbon dioxide (CO2). If you don't do these things and just let it sit, however, you get anaerobic composting, which gives off methane (CH4) instead."

Blog: Schneier on Security | TPM-Fail Attacks Against Cryptographic Coprocessors


Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Three on Two: Temur Walkers, Elk Blade, Goblin Blade and Dino Blade — MtG deck tech, self-recommending.

Blog: Market Design | Correlation Neglect in Student-to-School Matching, by Rees-Jones, Shorrer, and Tergiman — "In a lab experiment presenting simple and incentivized school-choice scenarios, we find that subjects tend to follow optimal application strategies when schools' admissions decisions are determined independently. However, when schools rely on a common priority — inducing correlation in their decisions — decision making suffers: application strategies become substantially more aggressive and fail to include attractive "safety" options."


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Prestige Blocks Reform

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Anarchy

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Social Security Isn’t Doomed for Younger Generations — "Keep in mind that this is the worst-case scenario offered by a relative pessimist... Another way to describe the problem is that, over the next 75 years, about 17% of scheduled benefits are currently unfinanced. Blahous estimates that the U.S. could cover that gap if the Social Security payroll tax were raised from 12.4% to 15.1%."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The winners and losers from Airbnb — "I find that the increased rent burden falls most heavily on high-income, educated, and white renters, because they prefer housing and location amenities most desirable to tourists. Moreover, there is a divergence between the median and the tail, where a few enterprising low-income households obtain substantial gains from home-sharing, especially during demand peaks."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Politically Incorrect Paper of the Day: The United Fruit Company was Good!


Blog: Open Philanthropy | Co-funding Partnership with Ben Delo

Blog: GiveWell | Why you might get a letter from us this giving season

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Do the rich save more? — "Of course this relates to the recent wealth tax debate — almost all of that tax would fall on the investment of the wealthy, not their consumption. Note, however, that if the wealth tax induced more consumption by the wealthy, consumption inequality could quite easily go up."

Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Ban the London Mulligan — "Magic is great because it continuously presents unique situations to its players. Decks and players are forced to be flexible and roll with the punches, to plan for not having access to their key cards. When instead decks and players are rewarded for relying on their central repetitive play patterns, because fallback sequences would lose anyway, Magic loses much of its appeal."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Walter Raleigh: Architect of Empire


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The racial integration of the Korean War — "To explore the long-term effects of racial integration, I link individual soldiers to post-war social security and cemetery data using an unsupervised learning algorithm. With these matched samples, I show that a standard deviation change in the wartime racial integration caused white veterans to live in more racially diverse neighborhoods and marry non-white spouses."


Blog: Hobart Byrne @ Medium | Money is Minted Certainty

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | The morality of quantum computing


Self: My Faults My Own | Review: The Triumph of Injustice

Interview: Conversations with Tyler @ Medium | Ted Gioia on Music as Cultural Cloud Storage

Blog: Bits and Pieces | Remarks to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on fossil fuel divestment


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Global Kidney Exchange Programme

Blog: Hobart Byrne @ Medium | Why I’m Bullish on Charter Cities


Blog: Ben.Kuhn | Why and how to start a for-profit company serving emerging markets — "In my opinion, Wave’s path—importing the US startup playbook to developing countries—was predictably high-expected-impact ex ante..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The effect of district attourneys on criminal justice outcomes — "Using a newly-collected dataset of district attorney elections, I show that Republican district attorneys lead to a 18-21% increase in new prison admissions in the two years following their election, while nonwhite district attorneys lead to a 10% decline. In both cases, there are no significant effects on local crime or arrest rates."

Blog: JeffTK | Drug Policy — "Overall our current policy is so far from reasonable that there are a lot of potential ways to make it better, and..."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Terminator: Dark Fate — "Overall the movie reminded me of Rogue One. Rogue One did not have the freshness or originality of the core Star Wars movies, but it was a member of the actual franchise in a way that some of the later sequels were not, and thus a refreshing reminder of what the whole thing was all about in the first place."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Causal Effect of Cannabis on Cognition

Blog: Notes on Liberty | The Myth of the Nazi War Machine — h/t Tyler Cowen.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Economists and non-economists on elasticity


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Release Bad News on a Friday — "We find that moving a Friday alert to any other weekday would reduce all drug-related side effects by 9% to 12%, serious drug-related complications by 6% to 15%, and drug-related deaths by 22% to 36%. This problem is particularly important because Friday was the most frequent weekday for safety alert announcements from 1999 to 2016."

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Firms & Cities Have Open Borders