I heard Mozart’s 39th symphony in concert last night, and it occurred to me (once again) that I also was witnessing one of mankind’s greatest technological achievements. Think about what went into the activity: each instrument, developed eventually to perfection and coordinated with the other instruments. The system of tuning and the underlying principles of the music. The acoustics of the music hall. The sheet music on paper and the musical notation. All of those features extremely well coordinated with the kind of compositional talent being produced in Central and Western Europe from say 1710 to 1920. And by the mid-18th century most of the key features of this system were in place and by the early 19th century they were more or less perfected.
Sometimes I think of the Industrial Revolution as fundamentally a Cultural Revolution. The first instantiation of this Cultural Revolution maybe was the rise of early Renaissance Art in Italy and in the Low Countries. That too was based on a series of technological developments, including improved quality tempera paint, the development of oil painting, the resumption of bronze and marble techniques for sculpture, and the reintroduction of paper into Europe, which enabled artists’ sketches and drawings.
As with classical music, this unfolding of quality production was all based on extreme experimentation, a kind of scientific method, urbanization, and competing city-states. There was also the rediscovery of knowledge from antiquity, and the importation or reimportation of science from China and the Arabic world, including the afore-mentioned knowledge of paper-making.
The creation of a book culture, and a culture of experimental science, could be cited as well.
Perhaps the only [sic] difference with the Industrial Revolution proper is that it came to sectors — energy, transport, and textiles — that boosted living standards immensely. But arguably it was just another of a series of Cultural Revolutions that had their roots in late medieval times, with even classical music deriving ultimately from Franco-Flemish polyphony. One of these Cultural Revolutions just happened to be Industrial.
Of course the earliest parts of Revolutions are often the best, as we’ve surpassed the steam engines of the 19th century but Mozart and Leonardo are still with us.
Only 3 percent of white Christians are first-generation immigrants. That compares with 10 percent of black Christians, 58 percent of Latino Christians, and 66 percent of Asian Christians. In other words, American Christianity is growing heavily through immigrants who are people of color. If Christians are really so scary, maybe it’s time to build that wall.
By the way:
And around the globe, the people most likely to be Christians are women of color.
So to put all the pieces together:
if you’re mocking Christians, you’re mostly mocking women, because women are more likely than men to be Christians. The greatest disproportion is found among black Christians, of whom only 41 percent are male. So you’re mocking black women in particular.
1. Prom expenses are going up at a relatively slow rate, one economist calculates (WSJ). And MIE: murder stories are now being in the Faroe Islands (also WSJ), where there is basically no murder.
2. Maybe emblematic maybe not (dead kangaroo edition).
5. “So although she does not receive any benefit of believing in God—because she doesn’t—she honestly believes she has deceived herself into believing in God…” Link here.
This award strikes me as the last remaining award, at least in the near term, from the matching/market design boom of the past 20 years. As Becker took economics out of pure market transactions and into a wider world of rational choice under constraints, the work of Al Roth and his descendants, including Parag Pathak, has greatly expanded our ability to take advantage of choice and local knowledge in situations like education and health where, for many reasons, we do not use the price mechanism. That said, there remains quite a bit to do on understanding how to get the benefits of decentralization without price – I am deeply interested in this question when it comes to innovation policy – and I don’t doubt that two decades from now, continued inquiry along these lines will have fruitfully exploited the methods and careful technique that Parag Pathak embodies.
The post is excellent throughout.
Ice-breaker question I came up with a few years ago that I call the “off-diagonal” question: Tell me about something you love doing that you’re terrible at. And tell me about something you really do not like doing that you’re great at.
That is from Mike Kim on Twitter.
Alex W. inquires:
…Americans are loud
A final point about why restaurants are so loud. This has nothing to do with restaurateurs or designers or acoustic engineers. It has to do with Americans — who I believe are a slightly louder people, on average.
As a Canadian working in the US, I am often struck by how much louder my fellow diners in restaurants seem to be, and how much more loudly the people I’m walking near on streets speak to one another or into their cellphones.
This is not a scientific observation, but it’s one that’s fueled Reddit discussions and even a ban on “loud Americans” in a pub in Ireland. Sietsema, for one, also agreed with my view. “When Europeans imitate Americans, they shout,” he said. “We tend to be louder people — we’re louder talkers; we’re bigger with our expressions.”
…Since you’re so well traveled, is this true, and if so, why?
I can think of a few hypotheses:
1. At least originally, Americans had much more space than did Europeans, and this is still true to some degree. That induce norms of loudness, which have to some extent persisted.
2. America is a nation of immigrants, with English-language proficiency of varying quality, including historically. For whatever reason, good or bad, we tend to shout a bit when the listener is not fluent in our language.
3. Taleb has suggested that higher status people shout less, talk in more hushed tones, and are more likely to whisper, to grab the attention of the crowd. Perhaps America has fewer high status people to set social norms. Or perhaps our high status people derive status from their wealth, and feel the need to emit fewer cultural signals, just as wealthy Americans often dress more poorly or eat a worse diet than European elites.
4. Characters on TV speak more loudly, and Americans watch more TV and admire and mimic it more.
5. Americans command a broader personal space, keeping a greater distance, and thus they have to speak more loudly to each other (and they feel Italians are intrusive with respect to how close they stand).
7. American culture values “forthrightness and self-confidence.” Plus maybe it’s a regional thing?
What else? Here is a Vox piece on how restaurants became so loud.
Parag Pathak, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor whose research suggests that school choice can lead to improved student performance, won the John Bates Clark award for contributions from a young economist.
Pathak, 37, was honored for his work on market design and education policy, the Nashville, Tennessee-based American Economic Association said Friday in a statement on its website. It said his work “blends institutional knowledge, theoretical sophistication, and careful empirical analysis to provide insights that are of immediate value to important public-policy issues.”
That is from Bloomberg. Here is scholar.google.com. There is lots on his home page. Only 808 Twitter followers! His Wikipedia page is good. He is a protege of Al Roth, and overall this prize is a victory for the notion of market design.
Can somebody explain the logic of the European “we forgot to make the doors go all the way” shower/bath?
That is from Alex Rampell. Here are the lame answers from the otherwise excellent Twitter.
The idea of inserting “social-psychological interventions” into learning software is gaining steam, raising both hopes and fears about the ways the ed-tech industry might seek to capitalize on recent research into the impact of students’ mindsets on their learning.
…Publishing giant Pearson recently conducted an experiment involving more than 9,000 unwitting students at 165 different U.S. colleges and universities. Without seeking prior consent from participating institutions or individuals, the company embedded “growth-mindset” and other psychological messaging into some versions of one of its commercial learning software programs. The company then randomly assigned different colleges to use different versions of that software, tracking whether students who received the messages attempted and completed more problems than their counterparts at other institutions.
The results included some modest signs that some such messaging can increase students’ persistence when they start a problem, then run into difficulty. That’s likely to bolster growth-mindset proponents, who say it’s important to encourage students to view intelligence as something that can change with practice and hard work.
But the bigger takeaway, according to Pearson’s AERA paper, is the possibility of leveraging commercial educational software for new research into the emerging science around students’ attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking about themselves.
Approximately 6.2 of every 1,000 children surveyed had ever been married. Prevalence varied from more than 10 per 1,000 in West Virginia, Hawaii and North Dakota to less than four per 1,000 in Maine, Rhode Island and Wyoming. It was higher among girls than among boys (6.8 vs. 5.7 per 1,000), and was lower among white non‐Hispanic children (5.0 per 1,000) than among almost every other racial or ethnic group studied; it was especially high among children of American Indian or Chinese descent (10.3 and 14.2, respectively). Immigrant children were more likely than U.S.‐born children to have been married; prevalence among children from Mexico, Central America and the Middle East was 2–4 times that of children born in the United States. Only 20% of married children were living with their spouses; the majority of the rest were living with their parents.
Spaniards have became richer than Italians — a heartening indication of Spain’s economic revival but a worrying sign for Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy, which is stuck in political gridlock. Spain’s per capita gross domestic product exceeded that of Italy in 2017, according to IMF data published this week that compare countries on a so-called “purchasing power parity” basis. The IMF also forecast that Spain would become 7 per cent richer than Italy over the next five years. A decade ago Italy was 10 per cent richer on the same basis.
That is from Valentina Romei from the FT.
Sub-Saharan Africa is slipping into a new debt crisis, with 40 per cent of the region’s countries now at high risk of debt distress — double the proportion of five years ago.
Chad, South Sudan, the Republic of Congo and Mozambique moved into “debt distress” in 2017, the IMF said, which means they have defaulted or cannot service their debts. A much higher number have breached one of the fund’s thresholds for debt or servicing burdens, putting them into the IMF category of highly vulnerable to default.
As officials scramble to convene the hastily announced and once-unthinkable meeting in the coming weeks, the site itself remains an open question. It is unclear whether Mr. Kim’s fleet of Soviet-era planes can fly him more than a few thousand miles from North Korea.
“We know he has a plane, but it’s an old plane,” said Sue Mi Terry, a former C.I.A. analyst and National Security Council aide who worked on Korea issues. “No one really knows if it works.”
Since taking power in 2011, Mr. Kim is not known to have flown outside his country, and the question of his transportation adds a layer of political complications to a fraught and uncertain summit meeting…
With the expected range of Mr. Kim’s planes, a trip to Hawaii or Guam, the closest United States territory to North Korea, would almost certainly require a refueling stop or a borrowed plane. Korea experts call that an indignity that Mr. Kim would not accept.
That is from Ali Watkins of the NYT.