Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem

Economics/Politics, Math/Sci/Tech, and Religion/Music/Arts

Archive for the ‘Festival of Links’ Category

Festival of Links: The Best of March

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on March 31, 2011

The top stories from this past month that you probably didn’t hear about from your other blogs:

1. The King James Version of the Bible turns 400.

2. Will Wilkinson gives “A Scornful Review” to the new David Brooks novel The Social Animal.

3. “Illinois has 11 working nuclear reactors at six sites, more than any other state [in the USA]…”

4. Soon there will be no hiding place for Jacques Chirac.

5. Megan McArdle argues that “We Don’t Need More Stigma for Overweight Kids“. Excerpt:

But it seems to me that we frequently mix “healthy” up with “thin”.  Most people who switch to eating an actual healthy diet–little processed food, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, less salt and sugar–won’t end up thin.  Most people who exercise won’t lose much, if any weight without calorie restriction.  And most people who try to restrict their calories below what their body wants fail over the long term–eventually, their appetite wins.

6. A study released by a think-tank affiliated with the German Social Democratic Party (Germany’s large center-left party) reveals that nearly half of Germans believe that Israel is attempting to exterminate the Palestinians, and a slightly larger proportion of Germans agree with the statement “Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era”. As Tyler Cowen would say, “Yikes!”

7. Scott Adams gives his assessment of Charlie Sheen. That’s all the Charlie Sheen blogging you will get from me.

8. Rabbi Richard Jacobs is elected as the next president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

9. Economist Steven Horwitz, whose writings on cell phones I have previous blogged, cites telephone service as an example of an industry where cost has fallen and quality has risen (both dramatically). In other words, there is no great stagnation.

10. Vanity Fair’s offbeat interview with Paul Simon.

11. Very short Newsweek interview with Larry Summers. As some other bloggers have noted, the best line from Summers is, “I’m one of the few people who went to Washington to get out of politics.”

Posted in Arts and literature, Economics, Festival of Links, Music, Politics, Religion, Technology | Comments Off on Festival of Links: The Best of March

Festival of Links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on June 6, 2010

1. Matt Ridley’s new book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, is out. A positive review from The Economist is here. Ridley has written a Wall Street Journal op-ed explaining the book here. Ridley’s blog is here.

2. An extremely in-depth article about Lady Gaga, for those interested in such things.

3. Facebook’s new privacy controls explained. See also here.

4. Ranking diseases by prestige (hat tip to Tyler Cowen).

5. Homer Simpson named greatest TV character by Entertainment Weekly.

6. Allegations–very disturbing if true–about the Turkish government persecuting political opponents, from Turkish economist Dani Rodrik. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of his claims, but Rodrik is a widely-respected scholar, a highly-regarded teacher, and an excellent writer, and I have no reason to doubt him.

7. Amidst news that Apple has exceeded Microsoft in market capitalization, Microsoft is reorganizing its Entertainment & Devices division. This shakeup also includes the departure of J Allard and Robbie Bach, two prominent and influential Microsoft executives. Here are two good opinion pieces commenting on these developments, one from InfoWorld, and one from ArsTechnica.

8. A new profile of Gary Becker, who was awarded the University of Chicago Alumni Medal yesterday. Becker previously received the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 and the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. Becker’s blog (joint with Judge Richard Posner) is here.

9. In a move that heralds the future of the mobile telecoms industry, AT&T announced that new customers will no longer be able to purchase unlimited mobile data plans. Dan Indiviglio and Megan McArdle concur with AT&T estimates that most smartphone users would end up paying less under the new plans. Slashdot has a roundup of various other reactions to the change. The Unofficial Apple Weblog hosted a Q&A with an AT&T rep on how this will affect iPhone and iPad users.

10. The true history of the original Order of Assassins (hat tip to Alex Tabarrok, who has a good article in the Wall Street Journal about the portrayal of capitalism in American movies and TV, including in The Wire).

Posted in Festival of Links | Comments Off on Festival of Links

Somewhat-timely links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on October 25, 2008

1. Greg Mankiw on health insurance policy, last year and this year. See also here.

2. Christoper Buckley endorses Obama. One of Obama’s former professorial colleagues does not.

3. How Canada is relatively untouched by the financial crisis (free registration required).

4. A new essay by Nassim Taleb.

5. Efforts in the UK to improve their government-run health care system by using advanced information technology are falling short.

6. Tyler Cowen takes an overview of our economic situation.

7. As the ruling Kadima party fails to assemble a governing coalition, Israel is headed for elections.

Posted in Festival of Links, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Somewhat-timely links

Festival of Links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on August 23, 2008

As said before, I’ve missed a lot of cool stuff on the Internets due to not feeling well, but I’m back and swinging for the fences.

1. A profile of Reihan Salam, from the Daily Star‘s Forum monthly.

2. In defense of the new X-Files movie, by David Cox. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will eventually. My mom and her sister got me hooked on The X-Files TV series midway through its original broadcast (yes, the show went downhill in the last two seasons, but the previous X-Files movie was decent).

3. The Official Browseable Time Line of Internet Memes.

4. The fall of Hillary Clinton, meticulously explained in Joshua Green’s Atlantic Monthly feature.

5. According to a reliable first-hand account, American Airlines (and possibly other carriers as well) now charges a $100 fee if you take a pet in a carrier cage aboard the plane as a carry-on item.

6. The controversy over the University of Chicago’s proposed Milton Friedman Institute continues, as reported by my friend and former teacher Adam Kissel. Elsewhere, Brad DeLong, a top UC-Berkeley economist of center-left political affiliation (served in the Clinton administration, known for his constant attacks on the current president and Republicans in general), defends the MFI from its critics on the (academic) far-left.

7. On the behavior of lobbyists.

8. On the behavior of Internet trolls.

9. A detailed report on Barack Obama’s economic beliefs and policies, by David Leonhardt, forthcoming in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Here is a good companion piece from MIT’s Technology Review, a profile of Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago professor who is Senator Obama’s top economic adviser.

10. My friend David Munk has resumed writing his mostly-about-music-blog, The Telharmonium. Here is his recent post about finding good running music.

11. Devin Pogue, my neighbor back when I was in high school and all-around nice guy, is engaged. I missed the news because I was ill, as mentioned in my previous post. Sorry I’m late saying this, but congratulations to Devin and his fiancée Sarah Ruggles!!!

12. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has an excellent post on why you should listen to economists, even if they can’t correctly predict specific economic indicators that far into the future (à la Taleb). Adams (I believe he is speaking non-ironically) also reveals himself to be a hybrid-centrist technocratic “market pragmatist” (to use the term I coined), who favors the left on social issues and the right on economic issues, and who opposes large-scale government interventions in either sphere for practical reasons rather than out of any particular small-government or anti-government ideology.

Posted in Festival of Links | 1 Comment »

Festival of Links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on May 19, 2007

1. George Will on gasoline prices and the House Democrats’ impending “anti-gouging” bill. A great column, although I think that under-investment in R&D for extraction techniques (due to years of OPEC laziness and threats of “windfall profits” taxes from the US government) explain the slow rate of increase in US oil production better than the lack of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Link from Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek.)

2. Juan Luna has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Brown’s Chicken Massacre. On May 10, 2007, Luna was convicted of killing the two owners and five employees of the restaurant during a robbery-turned-mass-murder in January 1993. James Degorski, Luna’s alleged accomplice, is awaiting trial.

3. Civil society is not dead in Venezuela, as tens of thousands protest Hugo Chavez’s attempt to shut down a privately-owned television station. UPDATE: The protests are renewed on the eve of the station closure.

4. Andrew Sullivan’s excellent summaries of the first and second Republican primary debates. Sullivan correctly notes that despite the misinterpretations of some pundits, John McCain and Ron Paul are the only Republican presidential candidates that openly and thoroughly oppose the use of torture by United States military and intelligence forces. Both McCain and Paul, for very different reasons, would immediately shut down Gitmo and end “renditions”, waterboarding, etc. upon taking office, which is as good as we’re likely to get from Hillary or Obama. UPDATE: Sullivan wrote another good summary of the third Republican primay debate.

5. A formidable group of economists has written a letter asking the US government to deregulate the creation and operation of prediction markets for academic research.

6. The books Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations by David Warsh and Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert are both out in paperback. These were definitely the two best nonfiction books I have read in the past year, although Perry Mehrling’s Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance (hardcover only for now) was a close third.

7. New President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has appointed his Prime Minister and cabinet.

8. Tim Hartford, author of The Undercover Economist, discusses nominal price stickiness and the price of Coca-Cola. Read it at Slate or at FT.com.

9. Jack Treynor, who (independently from finance professors Sharpe and Lintner) developed the Capital Asset Pricing Model, has been awarded the CFA Institute Award for Professional Excellence. The CFA Institute publishes the Financial Analysts Journal (usually called the FAJ), a top publication for financial and business economics and quantitative financial analysis, which Treynor edited from 1969 to 1981. Strangely, as of now there is no Wikipedia article for Treynor.

Posted in Festival of Links | Comments Off on Festival of Links

Festival of Links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on March 28, 2007

1. Should bloggers adopt a voluntary code of conduct? Tim O’Reilly thinks so. Details here. The New York Times has more here.

2. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is the latest pick for Oprah’s Book Club.

3. What’s it like to teach an advanced college math class (Modern Algebra) without a textbook? Professor Robert Talbert intends to find out. UPDATE: link to Robert’s post now fixed.

4. Happy Zoroastrian New Year!

5. University of Chicago Computer Science Professor Lance Fortnow announced that he is ending his interesting math and CS blog, Computational Complexity. Presumably the fun and useful introduction to complexity theory will remain viewable.

6. At Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen defend fellow economist Steven Levitt against Noam Scheiber’s charges (subscriber only) that “Freakonomics is ruining the dismal science”. Subscribers to The Economist can read more about instrumental variables here. MAJOR UPDATES: Full versions of the article have been reprinted (legally?) here and here. Harvard economist Greg Mankiw weighs in here. Cowen adds more, and points to Joshua Angrist’s piece. Most importantly, Professor Levitt defends himself on his Freakonomics Blog. A glance through the entire Scheiber piece reveals several glaring factual inaccuracies. In particular, the following assertion is blatantly false: “Chicago had never been an ideal place to do empirical work. Nobel Prizewinning theorists like Gary Becker and Robert Lucas disliked dirtying their hands with data.” More on this later…

7. One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers offers a neo-conservative critique of the Bush administration and the Iraq debacle.

8. Daniel Drezner agrees with Cass Sunstein (almost). Unfortunately, the topic in question is the non-viability of the Internet as a medium for serious and thoughtful information-sharing…

9. Did the extinction of the dinosaurs help mammals? New research reported here.

Posted in Festival of Links | 1 Comment »