Month: August 2017
5. The new book burnings: “I have never seen social interaction this fucked up,” she wrote in an email. “And I’ve been in prison.”
6. Ross Douthat NYT.
Hayek argued that support for redistribution was driven by emotions that had been optimally evolved for small, hunter-gatherer societies but that were now at tension with the rules necessary to create an extended social order such as under capitalism.
Support for Hayek’s hypothesis is given in a new paper by Sznycer et al. (et al. including Cosmides and Tooby). The authors use surveys to measure an individual’s disposition to compassion and envy. For example, for compassion there are 11 items such as “I suffer from others sorrows,” or (negative) “I tend to dislike soft-hearted people,” and for envy there are questions like “It is so frustrating to see some people succeed so easily”. In each case there is a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The authors also ask whether the respondents think a tax on the wealthy would benefit them (measured on a 1 to 5 scale).
What makes these three items–compassion, envy and self-interest– interesting is that each of these can be understood as having evolved for functional reasons in the ancestral environment (see the paper for cites and arguments.)
In contrast, “fairness” is a much more abstract and difficult to define concept and because it is based on groups rather than on interpersonal relations it is not clear how it would have evolved in the ancestral environment. The authors measure the demand for distributional fairness by asking a variety of questions about hypothetical distributions and they use survey questions such as “the law of the land should apply to everyone in the same way” to measure support for procedural fairness.
The main things to be explained are support for redistribution (again measured via a questionnaire) and private giving to charity. The authors have just over six thousand participants over four countries (the U.S., India, the UK and Israel).
A key finding:
Compassion, envy, and self-interest independently predict support for redistribution in four countries with different economic histories and distributional policies. This is consistent with an evolutionary-psychological approach…the effects of fairness as a group-wide concern is unreliable and of far smaller magnitude than the effect of the emotion/motivational triplet.
A scary/sad finding:
Respondents were given two scenarios, a 10% tax on the rich that led to X dollars for the poor or a 50% tax on the rich that because it reduced incentives led to X/2 dollars for the poor. This experiment was run in America, India and the UK.
Fourteen percent to 18% of the…participants indicated a preference for the scenario featuring a higher tax rate for the rich even though it produced less money for the poor.
It’s easy to be skeptical of survey answers (I prefer measured actions) but answers on questions like this have been shown to be predictive for a variety of behaviors and there is an internal logic among the answers that suggests real motivations and behaviors are being measured. Most notably, compassion and envy both predict support for redistribution but only compassion predicts private giving to charity.
Addendum: It is a scandal that so few of Hayek’s works are available online. I believe this is a serious detriment to Hayek research.
Thanks to a little-noticed auction sale, a South Bay couple are the proud owners of one of the most exclusive streets in San Francisco — and they’re looking for ways to make their purchase pay.
Let’s cut to the chase:
1. Symphonies #1, 5, and 7 are dominated assets, the latter two being too sprawling. #8 is meant to be seen live, and #10 isn’t Mahler’s finished version. #4 is attractive, but somewhat lightweight.
2. #2 requires a very good recording, my favorite is Stokowski with the London Symphony Orchestra, even though he changes the score. If you can’t find that, try Abbado or Levine, both of those two being good default choices for Mahler. Those two conductors are also good choices for #3, another symphony in the Mahler pantheon.
3. #6 is the most nerve-wracking and insane and requiring of full volume. I’m still looking for the perfect recording of that one, sometimes I like Barbirolli.
4. #9 is the best music, I recommend von Karajan.
5. Pierre Boulez offers an alternative perspective on any of these symphonies, plus he has one of the very best Das Lied von der Erde recordings, that song cycle being part of the canon of essential Mahler works.
6. The quality of your listening conditions is especially important for Mahler. And during any listen a) try to spot the Austrian folk tunes, and b) think of Mahler as one of the greatest opera conductors, including for Mozart, of his time.
7. A short piano piece by Mozart, as a palate cleaner, sounds especially good after a Mahler symphony.
That’s what you need to know.
A University of Georgia professor has adopted a “stress reduction policy” that will allow students to select their own grades if they “feel unduly stressed” by the ones they earned.
According to online course syllabi for two of Dr. Richard Watson’s fall business courses, he has introduced the policy because “emotional reactions to stressful situations can have profound consequences for all involved.”
2. Buy Buchanan’s house for $239k. No vending machine.
4. Why do rich people love endurance sports? (speculative)
6. A murder committed by a game theorist. He was caught.
Here is the podcast and partial transcript. Russ describes it as follows:
Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and the co-host of the blog Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Stubborn Attachments, his book-length treatment of how to think about public policy. Cowen argues that economic growth–properly defined–is the moral key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being. Along the way, the conversation also deals with inequality, environmental issues, and education.
The new NBER paper is “Consumption and Income Inequality in the U.S. Since the 1960s,” by Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan. Here is the abstract:
Official income inequality statistics indicate a sharp rise in inequality over the past five decades. These statistics do not accurately reflect inequality because income is poorly measured, particularly in the tails of the distribution, and current income differs from permanent income, failing to capture the consumption paid for through borrowing and dissaving and the consumption of durables such as houses and cars. We examine income inequality between 1963 and 2014 using the Current Population Survey and consumption inequality between 1960 and 2014 using the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We construct improved measures of consumption, focusing on its well-measured components that are reported at a high and stable rate relative to national accounts. While overall income inequality (as measured by the 90/10 ratio) rose over the past five decades, the rise in overall consumption inequality was small. The patterns for the two measures differ by decade, and they moved in opposite directions after 2006. Income inequality rose in both the top and bottom halves of the distribution, but increases in consumption inequality are only evident in the top half. The differences are also concentrated in single parent families and single individuals. Although changing demographics can account for some of the changes in consumption inequality, they account for little of the changes in income inequality. Consumption smoothing cannot explain the differences between income and consumption at the very bottom, but the declining quality of income data can. Asset price changes likely account for some of the differences between the measures in recent years for the top half of the distribution.
This is one big reason why you can believe income inequality is high and/or rising, and not see it as the most significant normative issue.
…the theater and film industry are beginning to recognize the need for “intimacy directors,” people who specialize in choreographing onstage intimacy.
They are practitioners who use concrete guidelines and techniques, such as the “four pillars” of intimacy direction, according to Alicia Rodis, a member of Intimacy Directors International.
Consent: Get the performers’ permission — including concrete boundaries and out of bounds body parts, and do it before you start.
Communication: Keep talking throughout the process. What’s working, what’s not, who’s touching who and how and do they feel safe.
Choreography: Performers wouldn’t spontaneously add an extra pirouette to a dance number or an extra kick to a fight scene. Don’t add an ass grab or extra kissing.
Context: Just because you kiss someone in one scene doesn’t mean you can kiss them in another scene without communicating about adjusting the choreography and seeking consent to do so. Just because someone is topless with you on stage, it doesn’t mean they won’t mind being topless around you offstage, or in another scene onstage.
To explore the ideas of intimacy and safety on stage in a variety of situations, LEO spoke with Rodis, as well as Tony Prince, a local director; and Sarah Flanagan, a Louisville-based fight director.
Rodis, the New York intimacy director, started as a fight director, and that led to her new focus. She shared one experience from that evolution.
“There was one show I was working on where there was a woman who slapped the man and then kissed him. So I was brought in for the slap.”
She ended up working on the slap and the kiss. For that kiss, she used her stage combat skills. That included asking standard questions like where do the actors touch each other, and new questions like how long does the kiss last?
Here is the full story, via Catherine Rampell.
On Tuesday, Cuba’s government said it would suspend the issuance of permits for a range of occupations and ventures, including restaurants and renting out rooms in private homes.
The suspension included the growing field of private teachers, as well as street vendors of agricultural products, dressmakers and the relatively recent profession of real-estate broker.
The announcement did not say when the issuing of permits would resume and said that enterprises already in operation could continue.
Cuban President Raul Castro expanded an opening of the economy to private-sector employment in 200 categories of business in 2010. It later also legalized nonagricultural cooperatives.
The government has said nearly 570,000 people are employed in the enterprises, which include hundreds of restaurants and guest houses.
The latest moves have created fears that Cuba is putting the brakes on plans to reform its centrally planned economy, though officials said the country is not going back on its economic opening.
1. The costs of sports segregation are higher than you think (NYT): “Dr. Eric Vilain, a medical geneticist, helped create the International Olympic Committee’s hyperandrogenism policy, which requires a competitor with the condition to undergo treatment that lowers her testosterone levels.”
4. The effects of common ownership on bank behavior, properly measured, seem quite small. And newer version of the paper here.
Recently Macedonia signed a “good relations” treaty with Bulgaria, so Macedonia cannot be said to have bad relations with all of its neighboring countries; they get along OK with Kosovo too. Israel is another possible candidate, although it could be argued that de facto relations with Egypt are not so bad. How about Palestine? Qatar is a country surrounded by hostile powers, and for the time being they win this designation.
Belarus is on increasingly bad terms with Russia, but Russia has quite a few adjoining countries, and I am not sure if all of those relations are so bad. China has frosty relations with many neighbors, although with Russia you would call it mixed and “not yet negative.” And relations with “the Stans” are not terrible. They don’t like North Korea so much any more, even if they won’t topple it.
I think of Chile as bordering on a hostile Bolivia, but relations with Argentina are acceptable, even if Porteños look down on the Chileans for being provincial.
Then there are countries with only one neighbor, such as how Haiti and the Dominican Republic rather uncomfortably share the island of Hispaniola. Relations across Central America seem to have improved considerably.
Which countries are the other contenders for this honorary designation?
There’s no point in doing a complete survey, but here are a few observations and suggestions:
1. I am not intrigued by much Mozart written before K330 or so. Piano Concerto #9 is one exception to this. But Toscanini was right to claim that too much of it sounds the same.
2. The string quintets are the best Mozart pieces you might not know, but skip K174.
3. The string quartets and Requiem might be the most overrated Mozart, though the latter would be wonderful if he could have finished it. It is better to listen to the fragmented version, without the artificial Süssmayr ending.
4. The Milos Forman Mozart movie is worth a viewing, if you don’t already know it. I thought I would hate it, but didn’t. Don’t try to learn history from it, however.
6. The operas reign supreme. Try Currentzis or Colin Davis for Don Giovanni, Haitink or Klemperer for The Magic Flute, Boehm for Cosi Fan Tutte, Giulini for Figaro, and Rene Jacobs for Idomeneo. I don’t know of a definitive version of Abduction from the Seraglio, but Beecham and Krips are good and Harnoncourt does the overture best, as he never lets up on the rambunctious in it. If I had to choose the operas, or all the rest of Mozart put together, I would go for the operas.
In the 1960s, an average hit song on the Billboard Top 10 had an average of 1.87 writers and 1.68 publishers each year. Songwriting duos were common, and creativity a simpler endeavor…
During the LP era (60s-80s), the number of songwriters and publishers on hit songs didn’t rise as dramatically. Based on the Songdex analysis, in the 70s, hit songs on the Billboard Top 10 had an average of 1.95 writers and 2.04 publishers each. During the 80s, the number of average publishers in top 10 songs slightly rose to 2.06. The number of writers remained the same.
In the 90s, the number spiked to an average of 3.13 writers and 3.49 publishers per top 10 song. Incidentally, the change coincides with the rise of digital music formats, such as the MP3. Napster also launched in 1999. All of which ushered in an era of massive data overload (and that’s before streaming took hold).
Consumers quickly adopted digital music formats, resulting in a “market need for registration, licensing and reporting systems,” says Music Reports. In the 2000s, Billboard Top 10 hits had an average of 3.50 writers and 4.96 publishers each year.
This past decade, streaming has emerged as a major source of revenue for record labels. Using its Songdex catalog registry, Music Reports noted that Billboard Top 10 hits saw an average of 4.07 writers and six publishers.
Here is the full story, I am glad Beethoven never did much co-authoring, with apologies to Diabelli.