Assorted links

1. The wisdom of Garett Jones and Reihan Salam.

2. Are they raising a gender-free baby?

3. The story of economics, a three-minute video, via Tim Harford, quite good I thought and also pleasingly philosophical.

4. Thwarted markets in everything: Denmark bans Marmite.

5. Do medical patients have an excess status quo bias?

6. The online grocery business is returning.

7. A good post on project evaluation.

Comments

Raising the gender-free baby sounds pretty quixotic. My bet is that it will last until Storm (a stupid name if it's a boy) gets into elementary school, at which point gender-typing from his/her peer group and teachers will become very present and clear.

This should be an interesting experiment in how the parents rationalize their discovery that there are, in fact, innate differences between the sexes. Will they force the kid to do an equal amount of opposite-sex activities?

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It gives me a hankering to watch "Mosquito Coast" again.

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Well, the question becomes, when is gender identity typically established?

Previous studies have suggested that it happens very early on--one year old boys will play with different toys than one year old girls. The question for me is whether gender-typing from family and visitors causes that.

Not that this would be a perfect test for this, as these parents know the biological sex of the child and that will inevitably effect how they act around zhe.

"Well, the question becomes, when is gender identity typically established?"

Well, step one, when you're a zygote you get either an X or a Y chromosome...

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I read that they parents home-school, so Storm won't be forced into that situation so quickly.

It's worse than that... they practice "unschooling". I found that the most disturbing part of the whole piece. Will their kids be "unschooled" their whole lives? What sort of productive job can a kid without any formal education do? And if they're going to transition from "unschooling" to a more normal source of human capital attainment at a future date, won't that be rough on the kids? One of the important roles of high school is to help to prepare kids be prepared to get the most out of university. Likewise middle school helps kids get the most out of high school .... all the way back to kindergarten. Playing in the mud whenever they like isn't much preparation for anything...

(a father of 3 school-aged girls)

What sort of productive job can a kid without any formal education do?

My guess is that Storm will eventually have to get a GED. Either that, or the parents will cave and send him/her to school. I share some of your concern; one of my friends was "unschooled" until he was about 10-11, when his parents put him into public school. He was way behind before catching up.

I don't think formal schooling will necessarily prevent it. Unless they keep Storm in a rather isolated group of kids, he/she's going to eventually build a peer group who will educate him/her in some of the gender roles.

JJ

Come on man.

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"He was way behind before catching up"

That isn't very damning. "He was way behind and he never caught up" is scary. People overrate education compared to genetics.

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I've heard some pretty good things about unschooling - certainly it's not difficult to improve on factory-style teaching in schools. But these depend on bright and motivated parents, as well as (I assume) high intelligence and conscientiousness in the kids. In the hands of irresponsible parents it can easily become an excuse for bad parenting.

This just seems like yet another thing where if the parents and kids are intelligent, curious, and conscientious, things will turn out for the better, and if they aren't, they will turn out for the worse.

Once again, intelligence, curiosity, and conscientiousness for the win.

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"What sort of productive job can a kid without any formal education do?"
None, just like their parents?
"unschooling" may look like a good idea, but it would only work for higly motivated and intelligent kid interested in useful knowledge and skills. Also, absence of structured information input creates "shamanistic" approach to problem solving.

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I was hoping it was an article from the Onion. I was wrong. I could only imagine the smug look on the parents faces when they tell others that they are raising " a gender-free baby to subvert the hegemony of gender norms" or something to that effect.

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For lack of a better place to send this, let me ask here: does government spending add a fat thumb to how GDP is weighed? For example is govt R&D (e.g., CDC's budget) included but not private R&D? Is a greater portion of government activity included than private activity (e.g., private or second-hand sales?). Are these differences inconsequential?

I think so, for a different reason: because government doesn't use real market prices. It seizes its income by force or threat of force, and doesn't have the motivation of non-governments to spend its own money to achieve maximum utility for minimum cost. So I think GDP as measured by government spending is generally exaggerated, though by how much would be difficult to quantify.

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I've used Peapod so many years now, the notion of actually going to a store to get most of my food rather than ordering it from a computer seems strange and primitive.

I was also confused by the title of #6, but it seems like Peapod is regional and NE IL is one of those regions.

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Procuring food is one of the great simple pleasures of life! I can't imagine doing it by computer. Picking out food based on digital images and descriptions as if it were a pair of jeans... Might as well use a program to eat it for you, too.

In the UK, online grocery shopping never went away. For city-dwellers without cars it's a godsend. For families downsizing from two cars to one, it means the housewife can still do the weekly shop. For students, disabled, elderly - anybody who can't drive a car - these are the groups in society who find online grocery shopping most useful.

It's a bit like Netflix. Until you try it and use it regularly, you just don't get what the fuss is about.

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I've met a lot of women who say that. Maybe it's one of those gender differences.

For my part, I find it tedious and would prefer to save the time to engage in activities of higher utility. But then probably half my calories are from protein shakes these days, so I might be the outlier here.

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It's also worth watching the video of the Making of the Story of Economics. An intriguing production process getting the idea out to the world.

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Does anybody know why Denmark bans vitamins? Do they ban vitamin pills too?

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Re #3: The story of economics is also a 3 part podcast. I subscribe to the podcast of Tim Harford's excellent "More or Less", and this was included during the time "More or Less" was on hiatus.

The 3 part podcast is much more entertaining than this sound bite video, but longer.

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On #3, I think you already linked to a post casting doubt on the "silent trade".

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This shows which they last very much lengthier and thus saving you income which could otherwise are actually utilized to purchase new ones.
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