Assorted links

by on February 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Kubrick on The Shining, more interviews here, and Russ Roberts on Arnold bread.

2. Naming rights in everything.

3. How did the collapse of the Soviet Union affect American mathematics?

4. The new John Tomasi book.

5. How Mexico benefits from the China slowdown.

6. A Hansonian paper on the quality of the moral intuitions of philosophers.

john personna February 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

#3, I used to make an argument that once a research area was “fully subscribed” it made no sense to demand higher funding. You can’t rush cheaper solar, or better batteries, once the area has interest. This bites against those (your book?) who look at innovations per capita. An active field may have a natural rate. Though also, a neglected field may have unsuspected treasures.

John Thacker February 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Number three has an definition of mathematicians that includes only academics. It would be interesting to see the effect on, say, the NSA and its supply of American mathematicians.

the spam robots are getting better and better February 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm

or quantative financiers.

swedenborg February 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Looking through the blurbs, I noted in passing that whenever I see the name “American Enterprise Institute” my immediate reaction is “oh, the torture and war-crime sponsors.” It’s unfair.

Wonks Anonymous February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I thought the name “Charles Murray” had achieved more notoriety than “American Enterprise Institute”.

Michael February 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

The arnold bread problem reminded me of a paper I ready in b-school on the proliferation of varieties in the cereal market and I think this is it. I don’t have access to jstor acticles, but for those that do, here is the link:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/3003584

Also, here is a blog that summarizes the findings: http://www.pricingforprofit.com/pricing-strategy-blog/are-there-so-many-different-types-cereals.htm

“Schmalensee theorizes that incumbents saturated the market to prevent new companies from entering and as a result, minimized possible price competition.”

Maybe that same thinking applies here.

Dan in Euroland February 7, 2012 at 2:05 am
Joe in Morgantown February 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

#6 hinges on the “actor-observer bias”.

“Are you morally obligated to do X?” vs
“Is Jim morally obligated to do X?”

It seems to me that the Jim question may be fairly read as referring to Jim’s moral code. I don’t know Jim, so I’m less likely to guess that he is morally obligated to do something than I am, ’cause I know my own moral code.

If this wasn’t addressed, it addresses the alleged weak intuitions of both lay and philosopher.

gwern February 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm
JETHRO February 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

#1 Kubrik was a genius, too bad he is gone.
2001 Space Odyssey was one of the reasons I took film courses in college. It’s still my favorite Kubrik film visual-wise.
The first part of Full Metal Jacket is my other favorite, but that may be more due to R Lee Emery tour de force performance.

cthulhu February 7, 2012 at 12:33 am

This comment from the “A Clockwork Orange” interview is priceless, and makes me miss Kubrick terribly:

Interviewer: Contrary to Rousseau, do you believe that man is born bad and that society makes him worse?

Kubrick: I wouldn’t put it like that. I think that when Rousseau transferred the concept of original sin from man to society, he was responsible for a lot of misguided social thinking which followed. I don’t think that man is what he is because of an imperfectly structured society, but rather that society is imperfectly structured because of the nature of man. No philosophy based on an incorrect view of the nature of man is likely to produce social good.

IVV February 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

Props to the interviewer for being able to start a question with “Contrary to Rousseau…”

babar February 7, 2012 at 5:39 am

#3. It would have been much easier for me to find a job in mathematics (my PhD was minted in 1996) if I hadn’t had east bloc and chinese mathematicians to compete with. That being said, I didn’t like my odds and found work in a different field after a short time.

Ed February 7, 2012 at 6:16 am

I’m going to take a wild guess that there aren’t really forty varieties of Arnold bread, its more forty varieties of packaging around a handful of varieties, produced with small variations.

In a parallel universe the same company gets the same amount of supermarket shelf space for its two or three varieties of bread. Maybe people complain about the quasi-monopoly, but no one thinks the solution is for the same company to make forty varieties of bread, which would be obviously ridiculous.

As to why the forty different types of packaging, maybe due to internal politics the company doesn’t like to discontinue brands and it doesn’t cost them that much to make the slight variations. And there is no reason for customers to flock overwhelming to one of the varieties and abandon the others, since they are all pretty much the same.

Corporate Serf February 7, 2012 at 6:48 am

How on earth do you measure the productivity of a mathematician? Number of cups of coffee consumed? Theorems published? How do you measure understanding?

NBER needs to measure its own productivity.

Corporate Serf February 7, 2012 at 6:58 am

Scanned the free version of the paper. Citation index. Seems like a poor proxy for influence in mathematics.

Also, they have managed to disambiguate mathematicians with the same name, but perhaps not merge different variants of spelling..

Rahul February 7, 2012 at 11:02 am

Theorems produced per hundred litres of coffee consumed?

….Or per ugly sweater owned?

I feel they have a knack to buy the ugliest sweaters.

jkl February 7, 2012 at 7:48 am
John February 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

1. Great stuff. I was a bit awed to read the amount of effort that went into it. His comments on commercials and silent films are interesting

Paul February 7, 2012 at 9:07 am

#3: Should we discount this find because it so closely adheres to the ideological agenda of Borjas’ other work? Should we presume that he dug deeper for this result than would somebody who wanted to emphasize a growing pie instead of total substitution? In general, should we trust work more when it is consisent with an author’s previous findings or inconsistent?

Rahul February 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

To me his best was the very long historical fiction (I forget the name) about the rise and fall of a English
( Scott?) gentelman.

Matt February 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Barry Lyndon

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