Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Archive for the ‘links’ Category

Further Link Dumping

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Because the neighbors’ wireless is functioning well, finally.  Who do they think they are, expecting me to keep paying $0 for a mediocre service?  Verizon should start piping in our own internets tomorrow.

1. This should not be inspiring.  But it is.  “Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it!”

2. The Gaussian copula, the formula that killed Wall Street.  Scientists and mathematicians can empower others to wreak havoc, and not just through traditional weapons development.  Of course, Marx did the most damage of all economists and he didn’t even give people tools, merely ideas.

3. Books and Music that make you Dumb– using data from Facebook.  The pages themselves have been up and down (its up now!) but Boing Boing has an image of the books chart to match the WSJ’s partial image of the music.  Glad to see Sufjan and Freakonomics up on the higher end, though of course the whole idea is a bit silly.  It is really sad for social science that Facebook took down their network pages though, those were amazing sources of data.  I hope they will someday reappear.

4.  Badass of the Week– a good idea for a website.

5. Thoughts on recent happiness research.  They cite “scientists” who have determined that happiness is about half due to chemistry/genetics and only 10% due to actual circumstances like income.  The unimportance of circumstances does mesh with my experience, as I think people are largely as happy as they make up their minds to be; of course some circumstances might be so objectively awful that they become more important, and people in these circumstances are probably not the people US-based happiness researchers will find to answer their survey questions.

6.  7 marathons on 7 continents in under 7 consecutive days.  Run by a 42-year old.  This reminds me of a line from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash:

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad. Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer has to worry about trying to be the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken.”

Written by James Bailey

August 13, 2009 at 1:34 am

Crazy Things

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1. Counterproductive craziness- I always suspected that tinfoil hats actually help the government/aliens to infiltrate your brain.  Now a study by electrical engineers at MIT confirms my suspicions.

2. So crazy it must be satire, and actually is- Obama is Literally Hitler.

3. Bridges made entirely from the roots of living trees.  Elves must have been involved.

4. Socratic dialogues as sitcoms– so crazy I would watch it.

5. The story of Genesis is officially true: I saw it on Facebook.

6.  The American Stonehenge.  Very bizarre for what it is, for the mystery of who built it, and because I had somehow never heard of it before.

7. For-credit classes in Underwater Basketweaving actually exist.  Have not confirmed if any of them qualify as full-contact.  Also, UC Berkeley is offering a class in Starcraft.

Written by James Bailey

August 13, 2009 at 12:54 am

Mini Biographies

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1) The Great Zucchini: How to make six figures while working two days a week with a high-school education. Plus: the dark side. Great reporting/writing.

2) A Profile of Andrew Sullivan: I knew from his blog that his life, both personally and intellectually, was interesting and a bit contradictory; but this story truly makes the reader wonder if it could all be describing a single person.

3) A Hagiography of Larry Summers: Definitely a puff piece, but it does make him sounds perfectly suited to his current job; and as Dr. Horn says, given who his parents and his uncles were he had no chance of living a gaffe-free life among ordinary people.  My favorite part of the piece is Summers’ quote about why he chose to be an economist:

During his senior year of college, Summers was considering graduate school in both theoretical physics and economics. For weeks, he anguished over whether to pursue his passion (physics) or the family business (in addition to his economist parents, Summers has two uncles–Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow–who won Nobel prizes in the field). After he finally decided on the latter, he explained his thinking to Rollins: “What does a bad theoretical physicist do for a living? He walks into an office, sits at a desk, and stares at a plain white sheet of paper.” “But,” Summers added, “there’s a lot of work in the world for a bad economist.”

4) John Rawls: On My Religion gives insights into the mind of the most influential political philosopher of recent times.  Apparently Rawls was at one point quite religious and considered attending a seminary to study for the Episcopal priesthood.

Written by James Bailey

June 14, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Some Ideas

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1) A big list of unsolved problems. Doesn’t seeing them like that make you want to solve them just to check them off, forgetting the benefits to humanity and the Nobel prize?

2) A debate over complicated, abstract ideas carried out by hundreds of people over decades. Sound hard to understand? Its not so bad if you just look at the map. I had this debate-mapping idea myself but had not done anything with it; I’d like to see lots more of these done, in a slightly different format.

3) According to Time, Rumsfeld failed at counter-insurgency not because it was so inherently difficult but because he simply wasn’t trying very hard. This seems shocking but based on other things I’ve read it is certainly plausible and probably true.

4) Dredge the entirety of New York Harbor. You’ll be rich, an environmental hero, and solve a lot of lingering mysteries.

Written by James Bailey

May 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Posted in goals, links, metacognition

More links

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1. Darwin- very gradual change we can believe in.

2. Political Truth in Advertising- What would Obama and McCain look like if they wore NASCAR-style uniforms celecrating their sponsors?  Something like this.

3.  When companies mock their own customers.  Brilliant, though Hipsters do get it a lot.

4.  On Role Models and Their Bongs. A little late to post about the Phelps controversy but the analysis and especially the quotes are as true as ever.  Clearly some refer to hemp as a material and others to alcohol prohibition, and I wonder about the authenticity of the rest.  But if true the Lincoln, Sagan and Obama quotes are incredible and a real indictment of parts of the current culture and legal system.

Written by James Bailey

February 22, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Posted in links, marijuana, Politics

Happy Links!

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1. Thirsty animal pictures.

2. Folk song about the economic crisis.

3. Unscrew America.  Changing lightbulbs is happy and exciting!

4. Yankee/Rebel Vocab Test.  I was surprised to see how localized some words I used are, and more surpised to see some words are used at all.  The test is pretty good; the one problem I found is that the question “What’s that road along an Interstate highway?” Should have an option like “What road?” or “You mean the trees?” for Mainers and other residents of intfrastructure-deprived areas.  I am apparently 24% Southern by the way.

Written by James Bailey

January 30, 2009 at 2:25 am

Posted in links