Random Linkage, May 2015
Attention conservation notice: If you'd care about these links,
you've probably seen them already.
I have been very much distracted from blogging by teaching undergraduates
semester), by supervising graduate students, and by Life. Thus even this
link round-up is something I literally began years ago, and am only now posting
for lack of time to do real blogging.
- "Discovery: Fish Live Beneath Antarctica".
all that's missing is commentary from Drs. Lake and Danforth, and maybe the adjective "Stygian".
Sponge Reefs. I say again, zombie sponge reef.
- The growing
problem of Pablo Escobar's pet hippos: portrait of charismatic megafauna as
an invasive species.
- "The Strange Inevitability of Evolution" is a nice popularization of the role of neutral networks in evolution, and how they contribute
to both robustness and innovation. It's obviously very strongly based on talking with Andreas Wagner (rather than, e.g., Gerhart and Kirshner), but not crazily so.
was already 11 dynasties old when the last mammoth died on Wrangel Island."
- "The Epic Story of Maximum Likelihood"
- Abusing hierarchical regression to turn a p-value of 0.027 into 10-16. Relatedly,
attractive models, and rat neurons which predict the stock market.
- "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer": Thomas Lumley on
a failure mode of opinion surveys. Presumably there a linguistic-pragmatics explanation of this — people are interpreting the question so it makes sense as something asked for by an intelligent person, quite possibly more knowledgeable than they are. (Cf.)
we keep recycling the boomers' childhoods every Christmas.
(Also: that's what the guy who
wrote The War Against
Silence ended up doing for a living? How the mighty are fallen.)
- "Your Online Attention, Bought in an Instant by Advertisers": this is a good account of current
practices in on-line advertising, but takes the accuracy of the algorithms
on faith. (The "Republicans in such-and-such a part of Texas just don't exercise" thing screams multiple-testing issues to me.) Still, the idea that our for-profit mass surveillance mightn't work as well as its boosters hope is not exactly a great comfort. Cf. David Auebrach's
"Your Are What You Click".
- "R, the master troll of statistical languages"
all other contexts, we count from 1. Why, in programming, do we count from
- "The short life of publishing traditions". As we may cover our books, when our books are electronic.
on the New Aesthetic.
on the archives of Arthur C. Clarke, recently acquired by the Smithsonian.
(The latter makes me feel better about the time I had my ex take every Sterling
book I owned to a signing I couldn't make.)
review of Paula Merriman's Mungojerrie: A Brief History of the Cat
of the most beautifully annihilating book reviews I have ever seen, and I
say that with deep jealousy.
emergence of a linguistic peeve
- Physicists' hair in the 1930s
Agent Confessions: How can something be at once utterly unsurprising and
- The method in the European Central Bank's madness
- "The UK's
thirty year experiment in innovation policy" (though it makes the mistake
of measuring inputs to the innovation process, rather than the value
of the outputs);
in Anti-Trust Policy"
Fallows makes the case against credentialism in 1985, Thomas Frank
on "Too Smart to
Fail", and Moe Tkacik
Omniscient Gentlemen of The Atlantic"
- "The Web Is a Customer Service Medium", or, Why wasn't I consulted?
- The Black Panther Party considered as the father of the modern NRA.
and Pru stories, perhaps the only romantic fanfic about reading risque books
inspired by analytical moral philosophy.
- The only thing I find implausible
story about "The Worst Job I Ever Had" is the absence of live
Turns Five: "I enjoy the looking-glass aspect of our industry, where
running a mildly profitable small business makes me a crazy maverick not afraid
to break all the rules."
Cf. The Pinboard
Investment Co-Prosperity Cloud.
- Mitch Porter's Basilik
Blog is, I admit, a bit of a specialized taste: you have to like watching
self-proclaimed "rationalists" cowering in superstitious fear, but I
Pittsburgh the New Austin? The Austin We Hoped
and Dreamed of, the Austin That Was Foretold?
- Jo Freeman's 1970
essay The Tyranny
of Structurelessness is incredibly good, and I think foretells much of what
has happened as we've systematically dismantled the institutions of
- Classic Movies in the Style of Ottoman Miniatures: I think the ones for Alien and Star Wars are the best, but really, they're all good.
- When Trolls Attack; related,
"On Internet 'Bravery': This is not Nazi-Occupied France, Folks": Suddenly, much about
Kameron Hurley's work becomes clear.
- "The Future of Central Asian Studies: A Eulogy" (or: live by the transient surge of imperial interest, die by the ebb of imperial interest).
Do with More" is what happens when a mild-mannered neo-liberal economic
and Engels. — One implication of DeLong's argument is that prosperity
is moving the economy into areas where we know that markets
generically fail badly, and require extensive state-directed social engineering
to exist at all...
- I lack the expertise to evaluate this Randall Collins piece on gangs, the drug trade, and the likely future of the Mexican cartel wars, but found it interesting.
- Further to the Tilly-an theme of the link between state-making and organized crime, mate and co-author Henry Farrell on the reluctant king of the hidden Internet.
- Clay Shirky asks his students to put their laptops away. I think Shirky actually misses a trick here. A computer is a really useful note-taking device, and writing notes helps you remember (even if you don't consult the notes). What is really needed, for instructional purposes, is a switch we can throw which jams all wifi signals. (I actually tried to get the computing lab to block Internet access during my class hour, but they said it was technically infeasible.)
- Why I have not written an adequate reply to your gracious e-mail. (And yet I much prefer e-mail to just about every other online or printed medium; I have Issues.)
- "The Saudi Monarchy as a Family Firm". "Indeed, in some respects the Saudi system has more in common with systems of single party rule than with medieval European kingship..."
- Dani Rodrik proposes
Welfare State to Innovation State. I have
a modest proposal which
would have much the same effect.
- Peter Frase on what, if anything, lies beyond the welfare state.
Kickstarter raises more money for artists than the NEA. Here's why that's not
really surprising": This is right and fine as far as it goes, but it omits
the crucial point that donations to arts charities are tax-deductible,
subsidized. That is the huge channel of government support for
the arts in the US, and of course it's directed towards the arts liked by those
rich enough to really benefit from a tax deduction. (Kickstarter donations are
not, so far as I know, tax-deductible.) --- I didn't appreciate this point
Martel's guest lecture
in Gabriel Rossman's course
on the sociology of mass communications; I can't recall who he attributed it
to. Via Tom Slee, who
Praise of Fake Reviews", and says
"Some Obvious Things About Internet Reputation Systems". (The last are not just obvious but also, to my eyes, correct.)
- An empirical study of Uber surging-pricing; the economic theory. To summarize, surge pricing makes perfect sense as a way of reducing the consumer surplus of those who are willing and able to pay more to get a car right now (i.e., price-inelastic consumers); as a way of encouraging supply,
it will only help for times of predictably high demand, not emergencies. Since presumably the people at Uber have read their Shapiro & Varian, this is no coincidence.
- "The secret to the Uber economy is wealth inequality";
relatedly, re-creating a nation of servants.
Sharing Economy Isn't About Sharing at All" should, I'd have thought, been
obvious. I have used Zipcar (one of the examples in the article) regularly for
many years, and plan to keep doing so, but it would never have occurred to me
to regard it as some kind of sharing. (It's a car rental
company which is a lot more convenient for me than the older ones, or than
owning a car.) Something like Uber or Airbnb makes its money by being the
centralized intermediary between consumers and asset owners/service
workers. Their goal is to become the only effective marketplace for that sort
of good or service --- would that be the monagorist? --- and so collect rents,
ideally driving both consumer and producer surplus to zero, with a side-order
of regulatory arbitrage, and shifting risk to those least able to bear it. I'd have hoped
that people actually in these firms realized this, and their "sharing" rhetoric
was consciously deceptive, but this article makes it sound like they believe
their own press.
- When Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert
call for "socializing Uber", they mean "turn it into a workers' cooperative",
rather than nationalizing it. In some ways, then, Seth Ackermann's proposal is more radical: it would turn companies like Uber into a mere provider of a software service, which would have to compete without
other service providers.
- My ex-student A. Z. Jacob's description of the
Networks: Evidence from Illegal Insider Trading Tips" cannot be bettered,
so I'll just
"Insider trading happening adorably between childhood BFFs, not professional
contacts." (While the paper is the outgrowth of a truly heroic feat of
data acquisition, I'm not wild about things like OLS and ordinal logistic regression [would it kill you to use a spline once in a while?], though my gut
says that wouldn't affect the over-all trends much. One thought not explored here: might the tendency for those further down a tip chain to make more money be part of how these particular networks got caught?)
Posted at May 05, 2015 22:28 | permanent link