Assorted links

by on October 20, 2012 at 8:07 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Analysis of how Bitcoin is actually used.

2. Are conservatives actually more generous than liberals?

3. Profile of Felix Salmon.

4. Can humans beat horses in marathons?  And what is special about human faces?  Interesting throughout.

5. Wedding markets in everything, assortative mating Star Trek edition.

Anon. October 20, 2012 at 10:19 am

>He once stormed out of a Reuters meeting because the agenda had been rendered in Comic Sans.

Hah.

Insecure Sinecure October 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

a man of principle

Rahul October 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

I find it hard to believe that someone innocently chose Comic Sans “by accident” as the font for a Meeting Agenda…..

The Original D October 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

This sounds like embellishment. The more likely story is he made fun of it, pretended to storm out in a fuss, then came back.

Bender Bending Rodriguez October 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

That sounds like a riff on “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad.

Ted Craig October 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

I still don’t get the appeal of Felix Salmon, but smarter people than me love him.

As for No. 2, what I found really interesting is that Brooks originally said, “My guys are better than your guys.” Then this study says, “No, both sides are equal.” Now the comments on The Monkey Cage attempt to prove that their side is actually better because they give to “real” charities.

Ape Man October 20, 2012 at 11:35 am

Well, I read him because it spares me from reading a lot of the business press. If there is a big story, he will cover it and I can decided if I want to follow up on it on my own.

That said, I don’t understand the regard a lot of people have for him either. To me, he is just an average journalist who gets blogging. If more journalists got blogging, I would probably read Felix less.

I don’t mean to knock the man. Everyone has got to have a job. I am average in my field myself. But to call Felix a top shelf thinker is to set the bar for a top shelf thinker really low.

Scout October 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

He casts a pretty wide net. Compared to someone like Rolfe Winkler who’s been called ‘a thinking man’s Felix Salmon’, I find that Felix has a better S/N ratio. That probably means he’s more of a ‘hedgehog’ than a ‘fox’, and personality is also a factor. This shows in something as simple as aggregating links (when he used to do the Counterparties section on his blog; it’s now done by Ben Walsh and the difference is obvious and I no longer read them). Nowadays the best Econ link aggregators I turn to are Yves Smith and Tyler here.

Ape Man October 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Yeah, I stopped reading counter parties after Ben Walsh took over as well. Maybe I should not have said average as he obviously has talents. I just don’t think of him as a thinker.

Zachary October 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

Anyone who has EVER tried to run barefooted on concrete knows that you end up, practically, running on your toes. You feel like a gazelle rather than the machine and it stretches you out. You put a lot less effort into pumping and a lot more effort into gliding (which is pretty effortless). It does wonders for your agility!

Scout October 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I find it almost impossible to run properly in gym shoes. I’m not about to go running barefoot but racing flats are pretty close to it.

hanmeng October 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

What really annoyed me was Daniel Lieberman’s suggestion that organic food was healthy food.

But then I read, “I would argue that many of the ways in which we get sick today have a corporate, almost capitalist origin.” So it’s all OK.

Curt F. October 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I think I agree with your criticism, but if that’s the prime reaction you had to the Lieberman video, I feel sorry for you. I’d never heard before about how profoundly our faces differ from the faces of other primates; I’d never heard about how our arms counterbalance our heads when running. Neat stuff! The fact that modern medicine is largely dismissive of evolutionary perspectives is something else I’d never thought about. After hearing Lieberman speak, it does seem like its a mode of thought that may need serious re-examination.

john personna October 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Ah, but it is ;-). Not because organic carrots are than much different than regular carrots, but because you are buying carrots and not graham crackers.

Dkr October 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm

http://www.attunefoods.com/products/New-Morning/new-morning-organic-graham-crackers-honey

The important distinction is not organic v. non-organic, but rather nutritious v. non-nutritious, overly processed v. non processed, etc.

Rahul October 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm

What about organic Graham crackers?

Strick October 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Great article at the Edge. Thanks for posting it and leading me to that site.

While the article you linked to is fascinating, the article on Constructor Theory is transformative. Looking beyond the quantum theory of computation leads to a quasi-proof that “all evils are due to lack of knowledge”? Yum.

Bob Knaus October 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Asserting that computing is physical, not abstract, gets you to a black/white universe where there is no incompleteness and uncertainty? Color me skeptical. I thought we had this settled back in the 1930s.

Good read though.

Brian Donohue October 21, 2012 at 11:05 am

Edge is an outstanding site.

Foo October 21, 2012 at 6:41 am

Anyone knows anything about that Nov 2010 BitCoin trade?

Was it perhaps someone stealing all BTC from an exchange or bank?

Larry Rothfield October 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Brooks’ work was pure ideology masquerading as research, as is obvious from the number of serious questions it begged about the meaning of the evidence it worked with. But beyond these evidential questions about the giving of money there is also the larger problem of defining giving as what one does at leisure with money or time that one has earned. There is another kind of giving that liberals do far more frequently than conservatives: giving one’s life to a nonprofit or public sector career. This amounts to sacrificing income one would otherwise accrue, income one would otherwise have available to then give. I haven’t done the research, but I’m willing to bet that had Brooks simply counted foregone income as giving he would have found that liberals are far more giving than conservatives.

Brooks’ idea of what counts as giving is misguided; his concept of selfishness is misguided as well. He does not recognize a basic economic principle: that like any other choice, all giving includes some element of selfishness. The difference between the giving of one’s free time, or of one’s money, and the giving of one’s life is arguably that one gets more selfish pleasure in the multiple punctual givings of things that one owns than in the giving of one’s self that a teacher or a doctor does.

Brian Donohue October 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

giving one’s life to a public sector career? Dude, you should go back to 1960, when such a view could easily be put forth with a straight face.

RmDeep October 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Damn, I was hoping link #1 would answer the question “What products are people spending their bitcoins on?”

Basically, can anyone answer the question: What percentage of the Bitcoin economy is (a) drugs, (b) child pornography, (c) violence (hitmen, etc.), (d) stolen credit card numbers?

The Internet Libertarians don’t want to know the answer to this (Bitcoin is about freeing ourselves from the Fed, man!), so not many people are putting much effort into answering it. The only study I know of is the one that looked at Silk Road, which found that in the first half of 2012, average daily sales volume on that one drug site was 11,650 BTC/day. Compare that to then entire Bitcoin economy, about 250,000 BTC/day. So that one drug-trading site was almost 5% of the Bitcoin economy!

TGGP October 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm

There is a large market for drugs. If you try to hire a hitman, he is probably a police officer/informant. I don’t know anything about BitCoin, but I expect its economy resembles meatspace in those ways.

Carlos Fernando October 22, 2012 at 1:25 am

#2

It wouldn’t impress me if this was actually true, specially because of the way the question is posed.

“Generosity” is itself a conservative way to see redistribution, as is charity, the giving away of those capable of producing wealth to help those who are less capable.

Liberals don’t see redistribution as an act of kindness and generosity, but of fairness, and not at an individual level of charity, but at a colective level of sharing the social product.

I believe liberals would be more participative in voluntary, social and community work and stuff alike, while could be conservatives more generous in actual direct charity.

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