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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (February 12, 2019)

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  1. Hoisted from the Archives: Cosma Shalizi (2007): Those Voices Again…: : “Q: Do you ever get tired of beating that dead horse? A: It’s not dead yet; that horse will keep kicking until the last person who thinks there’s something to The Bell Curve is hanged in the entrails of the last Durkheimian…

  2. Note to Self: Kim Clausing: Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital: “Monday, February 11, 2019 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (PST). IRLE. 2521 Channing Way. Berkeley, CA 94720: https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0674919335: “With the winds of trade war blowing as they have not done in decades and Left and Right flirting with protectionism, Kimberly Clausing shows how a free, open economy is still the best way to advance the interests of working Americans. She offers strategies to train workers, improve tax policy, and establish a partnership between labor and business…

  3. Please Help Me Out Here!: The Charge of the Brexit Brigade: “Forward, the Brexit Brigade!” Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew Someone had blundered…

  4. It Is Saturday Morning, and Joe Weisenthal Is Trying to Start a… Symposium… on Twitter: Make mine Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s navy-strength bathtub gin: Joe Weisenthal: @TheStalwart: “Should I do a tweetstorm on what I think mainstream Keynesians like @paulkrugman @Nouriel and @ObsoleteDogma get wrong about Bitcoin?… I think most Keynesian types see Bitcoin as a horribly inefficient medium of exchange, whose loudest advocates include many scammers, charlatans, misanthropes, and Austrian economics adherents. And tbh, this is basically all true. But…

  5. This Is Nuts. When’s the Crash?: The highly-estimable FT Alphaville has long had a series: This is nuts. When’s the crash?. That is my reaction to learning that Hoover Institution senior fellows are now crypto… It is not at all clear to me whether they are grifters or griftees here… I had known about John Taylor, but had thought that was a strange one-off. And now Niall Ferguson. Is anybody even pretending to have a business model other than pump-and-dump? I think the only appropriate response is here: Moon Lambo…


  1. Dan Goodin: Fire (and Lots of It): Berkeley Researcher on the Only Way to Fix Cryptocurrency: “Nicholas Weaver says bitcoin and other digital coins recapitulate 500 years of failure… characterized bitcoin and its many follow-on digital currencies as energy-sucking leeches with no redeeming qualities. Their chief, if not only, function, he said, is to fund ransomware campaigns, online drug bazaars, and other criminal enterprises…

  2. Genius no-longer-quite-so-young whippersnapper Ezra is, I think, massively overly polite here: As Ezra Klein say, Jill Abramson is part of a system that regards giving credit to others for the work they have done as a sign of weakness: Spend any time drinking with other reporters and ask them about New York Times journalists. You may well hear that they go out of their way to pretend that they have done work actually done by others, and have a strong positive aversion to acknowledging even the existence of other journalists. This attitude appears baked into their culture. This does not strike me as something the would be true of any group of people worth admiring. And Abramson appears to have it in spades. I would note that Abramson—and, increasingly, the rest of the New York Times—these days appears to be doubling-down on anti-blogging: access not explainer journalism; stenography for favored sources not working for readers. I am not sure why they want to double-down on this, just as I am not sure why Jill Abramson thought she should carry here disdain for others working on the story beyond the book-publishing and academic plagiarism red lines, but it seems to be what they do—like saving 15% or more on car insurance: Ezra Klein: @ezraklein: “I’ve long admired Jill Abramson, but the definition of plagiarism she gives here is a… looser one than has been true at the publications I’ve worked at, and I think it shows less generosity in citation than is appropriate…

  3. James Fallows (2012): As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize

  4. Ed Luce: Only the UK Leads America in Its Rush to Kakistocracy: “Democrats talk[ing] about being ‘socialists’… mean the kinds of things centre-right governments support in Europe… universal health coverage, tough regulation of monopolies and sharply progressive taxation. They do not mean Venezuela. That contrast alone is enough to give hope about the relative health of US democracy. But it is no reason to crow. If Britain is the only big democracy that is screwing up worse than you, it is best to keep calm and change the subject…

  5. Tom Scocca*Author*: Can a Journalist as Important as Jill Abramson Be a Plagiarist?: “Here’s one part of one set of Moynihan’s examples: ‘In December 2006, Mojica and two friends traveled to Chad with a camera to explore why Darfur couldn’t be saved. The result was the 2008 documentary Christmas in Darfur‘ . ‘In December 2006 he and two friends traveled to Chad with a camera to explore why Darfur couldn’t be saved. The result was the 2008 documentary Christmas in Darfur‘. That’s a string of 29 words… and a string identically presenting 28 of the same words, published in Abramson’s book as Abramson’s writing. The one-word difference is that Abramson swapped out the subject’s name for a pronoun. Abramson’s passage was plagiarized. Jill Abramson is a plagiarist…

  6. Note to Self: Monday, February 11, 2019 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (PST). IRLE. 2521 Channing Way Berkeley, CA 94720: Kim Clausing: Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0674919335: “With the winds of trade war blowing as they have not done in decades and Left and Right flirting with protectionism, Kimberly Clausing shows how a free, open economy is still the best way to advance the interests of working Americans. She offers strategies to train workers, improve tax policy, and establish a partnership between labor and business…

  7. The learned and much-worth-listening-to Eric Alterman has darkened my day. I do, however, think it is time for everyone whose career was boosted by making the Faustian bargain of catering to Marty Peretz’s bigotries, prejudices, and envies to exit the public sphere, quietly. Perhaps I should make an exception for Peter Beinart, who has done some atonement: Martin Peretz (2007): Tyran-a-Soros: “GEORGE SOROS LUNCHED with some reporters on Saturday at Davos. He talked about spending $600 million on civil society projects during the 1990s, then trying to cut back to $300 million, and how this year it will be between $450 and $500 million. His new projects aim, in Floyd Norris’s words, to promote a ‘common European foreign policy’ (read: an anti-American foreign policy) and also to study the integration (or so he thinks) of Muslims in eleven European cities…

  8. Wikipedia: Tablet of Destinies

  9. I confess, I have never understood why so many people have been so eager to credit Charles Murray as a quantitative social scientist rather than as a latter-day James J. Kilpatrick or Murray Rothbard. Nor have I understood why Jason DeParle was so eager to… sweeten the beat in his 1994 profile of Murray, rather than to ask even one follow-up question about the KKK and the civil rights movement in Iowa in 1960. Here Phil Cohen pushes back: Philip N. Cohen: Charles Murray: A White Man’s Cross Burning: “There are powerful individuals representing institutional interests, such as Charles Murray, who spent decades on the dole of non-profit organizations funded by the foundations of the rich…. He and his defenders have always impugned those who assign racist motives to his work…. A biological racial hierarchy in genetic intelligence…. A coalition that includes Murray, defends itself from that charge by claiming it’s not racist if it’s true, and it has fallen to human geneticists to debunk their claims…. Shawn Fremstad reminded me that Murray and his friends burned a cross in 1960…. Here is the very cursory story, in a 1994 New York Times profile [by Jason de Parle] for the release of his book The Bell Curve

  10. Brad Setser: The Case for a Significant German Stimulus Is Now Overwhelming: “In 2017 and 2018 the argument that Germany needed to stimulate essentially rested on the need to move toward a more balanced global economy, and the value additional German stimulus would provide to its trading partners. Demand growth inside Germany was solid, and the German economy was humming…. Now, well, Germany itself has clearly slowed, and its economy could use a boost…

  11. Orange-Haired Baboons: With Erick Erickson—as with all of the American right—ultimately it’s all about the grift…

  12. John B. Donaldson and Rajnish Mehra: Average Crossing Time: An Alternative Characterization of Mean Aversion and Reversion: “The mean reversion/aversion distinction is largely artificial…. The ‘Average Crossing Time’… both unifies these concepts and provides an alternative characterization. Ceteris paribus, mean reverting processes have a relatively shorter average crossing time as compared to mean averting processes…

  13. CRT: @StoryofEverest: “For those that missed Janelle Monae’s full performance at the Grammys, here you go…

  14. Dominic Ford: Custom Astronomical Graph Plotter

  15. Bernhard Mueller: The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Crypto Maximalist: “The first rule of maximalism is that there is no maximalism. You’re simply a normal person that, based on objective facts, concluded that there’s only one valid cryptocurrency…. You see the big picture. Your cryptocurrency has gifted you sunglasses of truth. Elegantly juggling monetary economics, socioeconomics, game theory and computer science, you have untangled the complex dynamics of real-world distributed multi-agent systems, paving the way to a fair and efficient new world economy. Keep in mind that others may simply lack the education, critical thinking skills or plain intelligence to achieve this comprehensive level of understanding…. Other coins have fake communities that are orchestrated by malicious groups or individuals. They won’t shy away from spending billions to purchase followers and attack your network and social media channels. Yours is the only community bound by ethical rules while the others use every trick in the book. Your coin is doing everything right…

  16. Things I did not expect to see. Do note that Hobsbawm does not think it necessary—or cannot be bothered to remember?—one single concrete example here: Eric Hobsbawm: In Praise of Thatcher

17.The wise Kevin O’Rourke tells me what is going on with respect to Brexit. That Theresa May’s current demand from the EU is that the EU give her permission to break Britain’s word in the Good Friday agreement tells us that her thinking is not something any sane statesman can follow. And what confidence can anybody have in the word of an England that would ask for such permission, anyway?: Kevin O’Rourke: The EU Has No Incentive to Blink on the Irish Border Question: “For Ireland, no deal means a border, but that is hardly the end of the story. Sooner or later someone in the UK will decide that it is time to “sort things out”, and that will mean further negotiations. Abandon the principle that a backstop is required and any border that emerges will be permanent. Retain it and the border may only be temporary. There is still the possibility that the UK will, after all, keep its promises. And Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, will be eviscerated by the opposition if he backs down. An accidental no-deal Brexit is frighteningly likely. It is made more likely by miscommunication and miscalculation. Now is the time for clarity about what will happen if it comes about…

  1. Equitable Growth’s Heather Boushey engaged with Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani, Andrew Berg, and Jason Furman at the Peterson Instute on Thursday January 31: Peterson Institute: Book discussion: Confronting Inequality: How Societies Can Choose Inclusive Growth: “Book discussion with Jonathan Ostry, @LounganiPrakash, and Andrew Berg of @IMFNews on Confronting Inequality: How Societies Can Choose Inclusive Growth with additional comments with @jasonfurman of PIIE & Heather Boushey of @equitablegrowth. January 31, 12:15 pm…

  2. WCEG’s Raksha Kopparam makes a very nice catch, and sends us to the enter for Financial Services Innovation’s “U.S. Financial Health Pulse: 2018 Baseline Survey”: Raksha Kopparam: New Financial Health Survey Shows That Traditional Metrics of Economic Growth Don’t Apply to Most U.S. Households’ Incomes and Savings: “Single aggregate data points do not capture how economic growth is experienced by different people in very different ways…. Underscoring the importance of knowing who specifically benefits from a strong economy is a new survey by the Center for Financial Services Innovation…

20.It is starting to look like Theresa May is aiming at forcing Britain’s House of Commons to make a late-March choice between Her Deal and No Deal. A British patriot would be going to the country to ask it to make a choice between Her Deal and No Brexit. But, alas, countries do not get the political and moral non-dwarfs that they need: Rafael Behr: May Thinks She’s Won. But the Reality of Brexit Will Soon Hit Her Again: “Inside the addict’s head the most important thing is getting to the next Brexit fix, scoring the best deal. But from the outside, to our European friends and family, it is obvious that the problem is the compulsive pursuit of a product that does us only harm…. Some MPs can see the situation spiralling out of control. Today 298 lined up to demand an intervention. They backed a cross-party bid to seize control of the Brexit agenda from the government… But the move failed…

  1. Cosma Shalizi (2007): Those Voices Again: “Q: Do you ever get tired of beating that dead horse? A: It’s not dead yet; that horse will keep kicking until the last person who thinks there’s something to The Bell Curve is hanged in the entrails of the last Durkheimian. Q: I really did not need that image, thank you very much. So you’re perfectly happy to agree that there is genetic variation in the human population which affects the facility with which various cognitive skills are learned, and so mental ability? A: Sure. In a more cautious mood, instead of saying “there is” I’d say “there could be, for all we know at present, which seems to be squat”. But, sure. Q: And yet, miraculously, this genetic variation is somehow not under natural selection? A: Did I say anything of the kind? I can think off the top of my head of a really obvious example of recent human evolution, and gene-culture co-evolution at that, namely the four independent evolutions of adult lactose tolerance. For that matter, over the last, oh, 515 years basically the whole human population has been put under intense selection pressure for immune systems which easily develop resistance to smallpox. My guess is that this sort of thing overwhelms any selection pressure for, say, facility of learning symbolic arithmetic (in which symbol system, by what pedagogical method?), unless there are truly weird pleiotropic genes in play…. Q: Could there be traits under selection in the present? A: I am pretty sure that genes contributing to resistance to malaria, cholera, schistosomiasis and malnutrition continue to be positively selected. Q: Any more interesting suspects? A: The prospects for influenza resistance look bright. Q: You know what I meant. A: You’re asking me to pull speculations out of the air…. People are going to think I’m advancing a genetic explanation for the Flynn Effect, when it’s much too strong for it to be due to any remotely plausible degree of selection…

  2. Finally, the Federal Reserve seems to have realized that its policy of driving headlong toward a yield-curve inversion was unwise. So they are “rethinking”. But I am not yet confident that they are out of the woods. While the Federal Reserve may not believe that the slowing economy will relieve inflationary pressures, financial markets still believe that the economy will slow so much as to perhaps produce a recession. This strongly suggests that the Federal Reserve is right now—even with its “rethink”—getting the balance of risks wrong: Tim Duy: Fed Holding Steady For Now: “I think the Fed will on net conclude that there exists reason to believe that the economy will slow in 2019 relative to 2018 but the degree of slowing remains uncertain and not clearly sufficient to relieve inflationary pressures. As such, I doubt that the Fed will drop its internal bias toward further tightening…. That bias is clearly evident externally in the Fed’s Summary of Economic Projections. It is also evident in the statement with this sentence: ‘The Committee judges that some further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term’…

  3. Now you can watch the video: Peterson Institute: Confronting Inequality: How Societies can Choose Inclusive Growth: “The Peterson Institute for International Economics holds an event to present the book, Confronting Inequality: How Societies can Choose Inclusive Growth, on January 31, 2019. The book’s authors, Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani, and Andrew Berg of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), along with PIIE Nonresident Senior Fellow Jason Furman and Heather Boushey…

  4. The extremely good American Economic Association Presidential Address. The takeaway: fear of government debt should be a second-order consideration in a time of low interest rates. And I would go further: because problems created by government debt can be dealt with at low societal cost via financial repression, it should be not a second- but a third- or fourth-order consideration: Olivier Blanchard: Public Debt and Low Interest Rates: “New theoretical foundations for how to think about fiscal policy and debt, which will stimulate the policy research agenda for the profession for years to come…

  5. It is journalistic malpractice for any story about Donald Trump to not begin with these seven facts: Dan Froomkin: Some Universal Truths About Donald Trump that Bear Repeating (Over and Over Again) – Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch: “While reading this morning’s crop of news and opinion, it struck me that there are several good examples here of stories that identify universal truths about Trump that are too often left out of the daily coverage… [but] are essential context for any story about him. And not just fact-checks or think pieces! Because how can readers possibly be expected to understand what is going on otherwise? [1] He lies all the time…. [2] He has no idea what he’s talking about most of the time…. [3] He is acting out of a profound sense of personal terror–of Mueller, of Ann Coulter, of losing the Senate Republicans…. [4] He is constantly projecting. See CNN, Trump says China is ‘more honorable than Chuck and Nancy‘…. [5] There is no ‘White House’…. [6] He is only playing to his base, nobody and nothing else matters anymore….. [7] He is exploiting (and exposing!) how the U.S. presidency has too much unchecked power…

  6. Fareed Zakaria: Trump’s Border Wall Standoff Is Really About Avoiding Impeachment: “This is the anti-impeachment strategy. What he’s doing is locking in a base so strongly that no Republican would dare cross it because they would worry about being primaried…


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