Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (October 2017)


Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Leaders of Men


Paper: Labor Market Equilibration: Evidence from Uber — h/t Tyler Cowen: "The supply of labor into Uber is highly elastic. If true, that means trying to raise the wages for Uber drivers won’t work." Tyler, of course, discards out of hand the chance that we redefine 'Uber drivers' to some restricted class (perhaps via a guild-based licensing system, or just out-and-out discrimination), and thereby raise wages (within the thereby restricted set of agents) by restricting supply.


Blog: Compass Rose | Poets are Intelligence Assets


Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | 2^n is exponential, but 2^50 is finite


Blog: My Faults My Own | What I found in the desert — Reflections on Burning Man 2017.

Blog: Ben.Kuhn | The Globalization Paradox and the perils of simple models — True story: I was reading through my RSS feed via the Feedly app, so I thought I was reading a Marginal Revolution post. Only later, when it crossed my Facebook feed, did I realize that it was my friend Ben and not Tyler Cowen writing! Anyway it's cogent and good.

Blog: Thing of Things | Maybe Reality Actually Does Have A Liberal Bias


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Email exchange on bank leverage, regulation, and economic growth — "First, these questions are in those relatively rare areas where even at the conceptual level top people do not agree. So maybe you won’t agree with my responses, but don’t take any answers on trust from anyone else either." cf. Marginal Revolution | John Cochrane defends equity banking


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Is Piketty’s Data Reliable? — "Very little of value can be salvaged from Piketty’s treatment of data from the nineteenth century. The user is provided with no reliable information on the antebellum trends in the wealth share and is even left uncertain about the trend for the top 10 percent during the Gilded Age (1870–1916). This is noteworthy because Piketty spends the bulk of his attention devoted to America discussing the nineteenth-century trends (Piketty 2014: 347–50)." Ouch?

Blog: Compass Rose | Seeding a productive culture: a working hypothesis

Blog: Bits and Pieces | Even a stopped clock is right twice a day — and Harvard Crimson | Students Promote Computer Science Professor for Harvard Presidency.


Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Seek Fair Expectations of Others’ Models — Critically unpacking Eliezer.Yudkowsky | There's No Fire Alarm for Artificial General Intelligence. cf. Compass Rose | Defense against discourse.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Kenneth Whyte’s new Herbert Hoover biography — "The scope of Hoover’s activities in Commerce was stupendous. Singlehandedly doing enough work for an entire cabinet, he was said to be 'Secretary of Commerce and Undersecretary of Everything Else.'"

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Cutting corporate rates vs. boosting the EITC

<3: Love After Life: Nobel-Winning Physicist Richard Feynman’s Extraordinary Letter to His Departed Wife — h/t Tyler Cowen (who else?)


Blog: Compass Rose | On the construction of beacons


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Is the World Bank lending too much to China? — "As I understand it, the World Bank makes money on these loans and there is a cross-subsidy of other Bank activities, most of all aid. A World Bank that stopped such loans would be poorer and less skilled, and over time could devolve into one of the poorer, less effective poverty-fighting parts of the United Nations, without much of a political power base at that."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Blade Runner 2049 (some Straussian spoilers) — "It hardly makes any concessions to the Hollywood vices of this millennium and indeed much of the Tysons Corner audience seemed to be baffled."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The High Cost of Good Intentions — "The subtitle is A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs, and the author of this new and excellent book is John F. Cogan of Stanford University and the Hoover Institution. It is the single best history of what it covers, and thus one of the best books to read on the history of U.S. government or for that matter American economic history more generally."

Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | The Fish-Head Monk


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Vaping Saves Lives

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Some reasons why the electricity in Puerto Rico is not working

Blog: Schneier on Security | My Blogging — Title's a misnomer; Bruce Schneier's writing a book, currently titled Click Here to Kill Everybody: Peril and Promise in a Hyper-Connected World.

Comic: xkcd | State Borders — "It was scary when graphic designers seized control of the country, but it turned out they just wanted to fix some things about the state borders that had always bothered them."


Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Not the critic who counts — "By contrast, when you read sowa’s blog, for all the anger about the sullying of mathematics by unworthy practitioners, there’s a striking absence of mathematical exposition. Not once does sowa ever say: 'OK, forget about the controversy. Since you’re here, instead of just telling you about the epochal greatness of Grothendieck, let me walk you through an example. Let me share a beautiful little insight that came out of his approach, in so self-contained a way that even a physicist or computer scientist will understand it.'"

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Cities and Suburbs Are Becoming Pretty Similar — "A few decades ago the choice for most people was pretty simple: either the city or the suburbs. The city was exciting but a little dangerous. The suburbs were comfortable but bland. These days our suburbs and cities are converging, which is narrowing our lifestyle choices."

Blog: xkcd | Logical

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The culture and polity that is China — From the comments: "This is exactly what China needs. Another incentive for saving more and against risk taking"

Blog: Bits and Pieces | Professor Allen's Puzzling Motion, Part 2 — "When I introduced my motion, I referred to Professor Allen’s motion as 'astonishingly sweeping.' Yet I did not appreciate how sweeping it was until a student asked me a question. Before I report her question, let’s back up and parse the motion as best we can..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Does Online Dating Increase Racial Intermarriages? — The answer is yes, note that the strength of weak ties is likely significantly stronger than you think.


Blog: Ben.Kuhn | How bad are bad fundraising terms? — Between 0% and 200%, says Gornall and Strebulaev (2017) apparently.

Paper: McGuirk, Hilger, Miller | No Kin In The Game: Moral Hazard and War in the U.S. Congress — "We test for agency problems by comparing the voting behavior of congressmen with draft-age sons versus draft-age daughters. We estimate that having a draft-age son reduces legislator support for pro-conscription bills by 10-17%." h/t Tyler Cowen. cf. also My Faults My Own | Provide for the Common Defense from last year.

Blog: Otium | Distinctions in Types of ThoughtDistinctions in Types of Thought


Blog: Overcoming Bias | A Wonk’s First Question

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Nobel Prize awarded to Richard Thalercf. Marginal Revolution | Richard Thaler Wins Nobel!, by the blog's other author.

Blog: Bits and Pieces | Remarks of Professor James Engell at the October 3 FAS meetingcf. Professor Jason Mitchell's Minority Report; Professor Eric Nelson's remarks at the Faculty meeting of October 3; Professor Steven Pinker's remarks at the October 3 Faculty meeting

Comic: xkcd | Jet Lag


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Sunday assorted links — includes Gun research has not been shut down for 20 years, Using violence to force the retraction of peer-reviewed articles, and Will AI be able to identify partially concealed faces?, pace Betteridge.


Blog: Thing of Things | The Typical Sex Life Fallacy

Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Bring Back the Sabbathcf. Don't Worry About the Vase | Sabbath Commentary


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The End of Free College in England — "It seems to have been a largely pro-education, egalitarian development, at least according to a new research paper by Richard Murphy, Judith Scott-Clayton, and Gillian Wyness..."


pdf: McCloskey | The Natural — "Bower thinks that we can teach economics to undergraduates. I disagree. I have convluded reluctantly, after ruminating on it for a long time, that we can't. We can teach about economics, which is a good thing. The undergraduate program in English literature teaches about literature, not how to do it. No one complains, or should..." h/t Tyler Cowen


Blog: Thing of Things | Infant Mortality and the Argument from Life History

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Baseball fact of the day — "Statistics showing precisely when starting pitchers become less effective have prompted teams to remove them from games earlier than before. That has increased one of the biggest drags on pace of play: pitching changes..."

Blog: Schneier on Security | HP Shared ArcSight Source Code with Russians — "This is one of the areas where open-source software has a security edge. If everyone has access to the source code -- and security doesn't depend on its secrecy -- then there's no advantage in getting a copy. As long as companies rely on obscurity for their security, these sorts of attacks are possible and profitable."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Catalan and Spanish language issue, from the comments — "60% of Catalan children has the Spanish language as mother tongue (30%, Catalan language) All primary and secondary schools use Catalan as vehicular teaching language (with an hour a week of Spanish… or nothing) Basically, in practice, you are not allowed to decide in which language do you want your children to be taught. I am sure most of you will think that this cannot be true in a democratic country."

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Because you asked: the Simulation Hypothesis has not been falsified; remains unfalsifiable


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What does democracy call for in Catalonia? — "Most countries we consider to be democracies have rather stringent restrictions on when referenda may be held and what they may be used to decide." and "Isn’t the truly democratic procedure to let all of Spain vote on Catalonian independence? Maybe you don’t think so, but that begs the question."

NYT: What Makes Singapore’s Health Care So Cheap? — h/t Tyler Cowen; the author's answer is not what you expect.

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Different Worlds