Assorted links

by on February 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. There is no great stagnation (mechanism design), and Andrew Sullivan on TGS and video about jet packs.

2. Dolphins may call each other by name.

3. Adam Phillips on frustration.

4. John van Reenen, and the books that inspired him.  And his on-line course materials.

5. Business Ethics Journal Review, modeled in part on Econ Journal Watch.

6. Bitcoin-denominated securities.

Ray Lopez February 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm

@#4–wow, what passes for scholarship these days. Back in the days when I went to skool a PhD meant something special. “John Van Reenen, Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance LSE, talks us through the must-read comics that first inspired his interest in science and technology, the books he would recommend for a non-economist, and why everyone should read Milton Friedman’s Right to Choose”. That speaks volumes.

Simone Simonini February 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

What are you saying? Scholars shouldn’t enjoy comic books?

Therapsid February 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Adults shouldn’t enjoy comic books. Or excuse me, graphic novels.

JWatts February 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

“Adults shouldn’t enjoy comic books”

Why? I’m not much of a comic book reader, I wasn’t even when I was young, but I’ve never seen anything wrong with them.

Thor February 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm

What passes for reading carefully these days, Ray?

The very title of the piece on John Van Reenen is explicit. It doesn’t ask say “books that JVR thinks are the greatest works of scholarship”; it says “books that influenced him and first inspired him”, and that (obviously) can include books from a variety of genres, which he could have read at any time prior to becoming an economist, including his teen years.

By the way, his choice of Elster’s brilliant book Making Sense of Marx bespeaks his intellectual integrity: the book is a thorough, philosophically deep and honest appraisal of what is salvageable and what isn’t in the thought of Marx. (For non-Marxists like myself, the good news is that Elster — himself on the left — concludes that not much is salvageable: the moral critique of capitalism might be worthy, in places, but the philosophy is not and above Marxian economics is highly tendentious and flawed.)

Ray Lopez February 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I love to masturbate. I would not however put that in my resume as a hobby. Likewise, that you were inspired by Spiderman, like Prof. Van Reenen was as a boy, I would not list that in my books that inspired me, unless you want to come across as silly, no matter how ‘honest’ that may be (like my hobby). As for Marx, once you figure out he believed in the labour theory of value so much that in Das Capital he gives no weight to the time value of money, you can conclude, without reading Elster or anybody else, that Marx was mistaken at best and a charlatan at worse. Nuff said. … aaaaahhhhh.

Thor February 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Depends what job you are applying for! ;-)

Claudia February 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Can I just say that I am looking forward to when dolphins write blog comments … (#2 is great). Also there were lots of fun bits in #3 like “So happiness equals denial of reality.” In that spirit, I am going to deny that I just read this thread (with sound effects, ick). Never dull around here.

NPW February 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I want a jet pack. That said, why would EMS/military use chose this over the currently deployed VTOL drones or on a slightly larger scale a Little Bird? I do not see the range or the payload being sufficient to perform meaningful missions not already covered by drones or conventional airframes.

The benefit of being an ultralight is to the private citizen, not governmental entities or professional pilots.

Also, the link is not a jet pack. It is a ducted fan.

Major February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

It’s a toy for the rich. The noise alone kills it for widespread use in populated areas.

anon February 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

5. Business Ethics Journal Review

Can anyone explain to me what “business ethics” means other than “criminal law” or “this is how I believe the world should work”?

Hazel Meade February 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Speaking of bitcoin, I found a paper by some Standford economists discussing some of bitcoins limitiations.
http://crypto.stanford.edu/~xb/fc12/bitcoin.pdf

In particular the authors argue that bitcoin is a deflationary currency, which is built into the eventual decay-to-zero of the generation rate of the currency and the possibility for coins to be “lost” (by people losing their private keys). In other words, there eventually be a fixed, gradually decaying number of bitcoins in existence. This may help to explain why the exchange rate of the bitcoin is consistently rising.
Aside from the incentive to hoard bitcoins, the athors argue that this will eventually lead to a collapse of the currency since the decline in incentives to “mine” new bitcoins will cause the number of people engaged in transaction verification in the peer-to-peer network to decline, which will leave the system open to certain types of cyber attacks.

I’m curious to know if this paper has been previously discussed and what responses there have been to it. Are there any plans to modify the formula by which bitcoins are mined? Do people disagree with the prediction that bitcoin will eventually become suceptible to attack and suffer a collapse?

Ray Lopez February 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Thanks for this link. I myself was scared off from investing in bitcoin because I notice the huge peaks and subsequent crashes, and it seems now the bitcoin craze is in a ‘bull market’ again, with 1 BTC = $22 USD, which is unsustainable. It’s a neat concept though and when and if it becomes popular I might invest. Also I share the concern that with open source, I’m sure somebody will figure out a way to ‘counterfeit’ a bitcoin using a farm of illicit bots, akin to what is used to circumvent and crack copyrighted programs.

Hazel Meade February 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Re: Andrew Sullivan’s post. The thing is that more cool shit in the virtual world is rapidly losing it’s relevance to consumers who want to improve their material wellbeing.
Infinite games of angry birds, books, and movies is poor compensation for not being able to afford a house, a car, or airplane tickets for a vacation.

Major February 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Here we go again. FYI, housing affordability is at or close to its all-time. Airplane tickets have become dramatically cheaper over the past few decades. Cars are better than ever. We have all that “cool shit in the virtual world” plus improved “material well-being.”

Wonks Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm

“Right” to Choose? Did “Free to Choose” have a separate title in limey-land?

Wonks Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Also, FTC was televised on PBS before it was made into a book. “Capitalism and Freedom” is probably a better recommendation.

JW February 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

“mechanism design” totally misled me, haha

JWatts February 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

That machine struck me as a little bit RubeGoldbergian.

I’ve worked in a M&M plant. The candies are made by dropping into large rotating coating machines that look a lot like laundramat driers including a see through front door. Each machine creates a specific color of candy. When the process is done the candies are printed and then dumped into a bag. Each bag getting a certain amount of each color.

In essence this machine just undoes the color mixing the original factory did. So would this sorting be evidence in favor of TGS?

CW February 24, 2013 at 4:47 am

Color sorting machines have been around for decades. They are utilized in nut processing facilities. I work in a popcorn plant and they have a color sorter in the processing area. I suppose this is a scaled down home use version, but that doesn’t seem all that useful, or innovative, unless you really really hate a certain color skittle or M&M.

Phil February 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

“Dolphins may call each other by name.”

Yeah but do they have cool handshakes?

Ed February 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm

The bitcoin “securities market” does not inspire much confidence. Looks like a ponzi scam market. The “verification” procedures the exchange offers are likewise a joke: regular “verification” involves verifying one’s email address, while “premium verification” involves verifying ones mailing address (only) by receiving a postcard with a code.

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