Assorted links

by on December 30, 2009 at 11:48 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Ross Douthat defends the filibuster; here is Will Wilkinson on the same.

2. Most Kindle best-sellers are free.

3. The year's best and worst: a Ukrainian perspective.

4. People are reading more not less.

5. Revisionist history of the Ivy League?

6. Map scaled by how many languages an area has produced.

7. Top ten pro-liberty books of the decade?

anon December 30, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Top ten pro-liberty books of the decade?

I would very much like to see Tyler’s list and Alex’s list of their top ten pro-liberty books of the decade.

dearieme December 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm

The argument for independent universities is very appealing, but there are historical counterexamples. In the late 18th century easily the best British university was Edinburgh, which was governed by the City Council, while the fully independent Oxford and Cambridge were at a low ebb. Any attempt to explain the high standing of the best US universities ought to explain why their high standing is so recent (post WWII) while their independence is much older, and it ought to explain the hundred years and more when the best university system was the German.

Andy December 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

For linguistics it’s probably good if there are many languages. But for most people the opposite is true. In that sense the map should be sized inversely to what it is now.

Curt Fischer December 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm

6. The blog Tyler links to, and Tyler himself, mislead by saying the map illustrates how many languages an area “has produced”. In fact it is a map with each countries’ size scaled by “the number of languages spoken in it…”.

It might seem trivial but I was confused for a bit when looking at the map. Didn’t the Americas produce hundreds and hundreds of distinct languages in native times, many of which have been lost? How does anyone know how many languages an area “has produced”?

Anthony December 30, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Curt’s point can be expanded upon – there are probably at least 50 to 100 American Indian languages spoken in the US, and about the same or more in Mexico and Canada, but neither looks to be scaled to that level. Similarly, the Caucuses mountains produced a lot of languages, but Russia and its neighbors in the region don’t seem to be very well scaled, either.

anon December 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I really object to these books being called the top ten “pro-liberty” books of the decade.

Uh, you comment here regularly, so why not post YOUR top 10?

liberalarts December 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Soren: I think that you are not representing Diamond properly. He said that cultures in geographic areas with animals that could be domesticated and were large enough to do draft work were the cultures that had the wealth to better advance. Other stuff too. Before the Dawn, reviewed on this blog this year, explained how geographies with few languages represented areas with more recent (relatively) population expansion from a dominant group.

Candadai Tirumalai December 31, 2009 at 9:23 am

I was at the University of Pennsylvania from
1960 to 1967, as a graduate student and as an
Instructor. It was founded by Benjamin Franklin,
who had moved fairly early in life from Boston
to Philadelphia, and who represented the
Enlightenment, non-theological habit of mind.
Unlike Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, Penn got
a rather different start.
I lived in Oxford for many years, and the
University still ranks among the top ten in
the world. But it assiduously seeks government
funding and tries to attract as many students
from overseas as possible because they pay
steeper tuition fees.
dierieme has raised very interesting
considerations. I do not know the extent to
which Edinburgh University participated in
the Scottish Enlightenment but if it did, it
would share something with Penn. In the 18th
century Oxford was indeed at a low ebb. Both
Dr. Johnson, the first lexicographer of the
language, and Gibbon, the superb historian
of Rome, had been at Oxford but left after
about a year, Johnson for lack of funds.

Bernard Yomtov December 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm


Sorry. I did read it as a snarky comment. My mistake.

Anyway, to give a more polite answer: I don’t really feel able to post a top ten list on a specific topic because to do so honestly would require that I read a lot of books – 50, 100? – on that topic. I do read a lot, but the subject matter tends to be pretty broad. Posting my top ten books of the decade on English history, say, isn’t very meaningful if I’ve only read eleven such books.

Some other points are that I don’t exactly remember when I read a specific book. Maybe it was in 1999, so it wouldn’t qualify. And does the date of publication of a book rule, or the date I read it? I suppose, to be objective, it has to be publication, but I’m not inclined to check.

Also, my response was not entirely snarky. It is true that I don’t feel like it.

However, in the general spirit of atonement and responsiveness, some of the books I have enjoyed in recent years include:

Various novels by Michael Chabon.
Jared Diamond, particularly G,G,&S
Some of the “popular economics” books.

Lords of Finance, by Liaquat Ahamed
Agincourt, by Juliet Barker (a little too pro-Henry, but informative)
God’s Crucible, by David Levering-Lewis (read on recommendation from Tyler – excellent)
Temperament, by Stewart Isacoff
Carry Me Home, by Diane McWhorter (about the civil rights battle – a battle for liberty, BTW – in Birmingham. I lived there at the time.)
Bankers and Pashas by David Landes
John Adams, by David McCullough. Adams was generally pro-liberty, despite the mistake of the Alien and Sedition acts.
Brunelleschi’s Dome, by Ross King

Many others.

This is not intended to be a top ten list, or any sort of ranking at all. It’s a random sample, probably really only covering recent activity, intended to give an idea of my reading. And yes, I read a lot of detective/mystery/thriller stuff too. I left that out so as to create a more intellectual impression.

anon January 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

And yes, I read a lot of detective/mystery/thriller stuff too. I left that out so as to create a more intellectual impression.

Thank you!

So what is your top ten for the decade in the detective/mystery/thriller genre?

tempurpedic April 24, 2010 at 4:00 am

Thank you for links. You help me a lot, thanks!

pool alarms July 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm

The article is talking about legend. It’s fun to know how legend was created and now being told.pool alarms

cage covers October 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

Well this is very interesting indeed. Would love to read a little more of this. Great post. Thanks for the heads-up. This blog was very informative and knowledgeable

passive house November 2, 2010 at 8:57 am

Well this is very interesting indeed. Would love to read a little more of this. Great post. Thanks for the heads-up. This blog was very informative and knowledgeable

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Assorted links

by on December 1, 2009 at 11:48 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Charles Goodhart wants to stop QE.

2. Will premiums go up or down?

3. Free chapter on experimental economics.  And the first chapter from Scroogenomics.

4. The first chapter from Randall Collins's Violence, an excellent book.

5. "Hobbits" seem to be a unique human species.

6. "Although it may sound counterintuitive, loneliness can spread from one person to another…"

Andrew December 1, 2009 at 1:13 pm

2. What if you don’t believe that someone really believes what they are saying, despite their passion for their agenda?

John Dewey December 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

“Will premiums go up or down?”

If the Health Care reform bill increases utilization of health care providers, yet does nothing to increase the supply of health care providers, then health care prices should rise faster than they would have risen. Someone’s got to pay more.

Of course, the alternative to rising prices could be government price controls. And rationing. In which case the premiums are not providing the same product that existed in the pre-”reform” world.

Ed December 1, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Regarding “hobbits”…

So analysis of one skeleton, based one equation created by one person is enough to declared the existence of an entire species?

I don’t get it but it sounds a little weak… Great for headlines and for publishing papers… but weak…


Alex December 1, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I would strongly encourage you to review this paper from PNAS regarding the ‘hobbit’ before you make any conclusions about it:

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