Month: April 2019
But Ms McRae is also concerned that programmes like Lambda School, though well-meaning, risk undermining existing educational institutions by offering a quicker route to work.
That is from The Economist coverage of Lambda School.
3. Rising wage returns to workers who are on call all the time and work long hours (NYT). The framing of the piece implies these workers impose negative externalities on others, but of course positive externalities are a more plausible scenario. Furthermore, the wedge created by marginal tax rates suggests many people are working too few hours at too unproductive a pace, compared to an optimum. It is the non-pecuniary aspects of the job which are oversupplied, as in basic micro, right?
1. Patrick Bergemann, Judge Thy Neighbor: Denunciations in the Spanish Inquisition, Romanov Russia, and Nazi Germany. A very specific, useful, and interesting account of actual denunciation practices during the above-mentioned episodes. During the Inquisition, there was general immunity given to most denouncers, you can imagine the resulting incentives. This book is becoming more relevant than it ought to be.
2. John L. Rudolph, How We Teach Science: What’s Changed, and Why It Matters. I found this book boring, but it is the kind of book people should be writing and I suspect some readers and researchers will find it very useful. A fact-rich, reference-laden history of American science education, still by the end I still was looking for more organizational principles.
3. Samme Chittum, Last Days of the Concorde: The Crash of Flight 4590 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel. An excellent book on why the Concorde was in fact abandoned. I hadn’t realized it was never so safe in the first place: “They soon learned that Concordes operated by British Airways and Air France had been involved in a range of tire failures over the years. No fewer than 57 such incidents had taken place since Concordes began flying in 1976, 47 were either burst or inflated tires, and 10 were instances in which tires lost tread.”
4. Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, translated and edited by Ken Liu. I found the “hit rate” in this collection to be slightly over fifty percent, which is rare for a science fiction anthology, plus even the lesser stories give one some insight into China, so definitely recommended, at least if you think you might like it. But don’t read this before The Three-Body Problem.
Ethan Pollock, Without the Banya We Would Perish: A History of the Russian Bathhouse, delivers what it promises. The coup against Gorbachev was plotted in a banya, I learned.
Joshua Specht, Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America. A good economic history of the “cattle-beef complex”: “Abilene, Kansas was the first major cattle town.”
Emily Oster, Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool is in my pile, it may someday be revised to cover older children.
Also in my pile is Julius Caesar, The War for Gaul, a new translation by James J. O’Donnell. I can’t speak to this translation, but the book is a winner.
A three-hour drive north of the Philippine capital Manila, local leaders have drawn a line in the sand against a swelling tide of scuttlebutt and innuendo.
They outlawed gossip.
In a world awash with fake news and online rumors, more than half a dozen neighborhoods in Binalonan have introduced an anti-gossip ordinance to put an end to too much idle chitchat. Town Mayor Ramon Guico III says the worst time is during the summer, when the scorching heat pushes people to huddle beneath the broad branches of century-old acacia trees, sipping soft drinks or munching on snacks in the shade.
“That’s how it starts,” he complains.
The chin-wagging usually revolves around who might be cheating on their spouse or running up debts. Facebook and messaging apps worsened the problem, but Mr. Guico says the really damaging stuff is gossip— the sort of thing your mother might have warned you about…
The first offense starts with a fine of 500 pesos, or around $10, followed by an embarrassing afternoon spent picking up trash.
Graduate students experience depression and anxiety at six times the rate of the general population, Gumport mentioned.
A study produced by Paul Barreira, director of Harvard’s University Health Service, found that “the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among economics Ph.D. students is comparable to the prevalence found in incarcerated populations.”
Most of the article (the top segment) is an interesting consideration of the economics of Stanford University Press.
The men were allowed to come on deck night and day if they wished, but it was the rule to whip the Negro men if they went in the hold with the women. Aboard the Creole, sex was apparently (and, it turned out, wrong) deemed a greater threat than slave rebellion. Gonorrhea, according to slaveholding commonplace, was a disease “generally contracted among Negroes en route who are brought for sale.” A number of different traders had their slaves aboard the ship, and segregating them by sex was a way to keep one slaveholder’s slaves from diminishing the value of another’s by passing a disease — or starting a pregnancy.
That is from Walter Johnson, Soul By Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market.
She also said Ms. Gardner had ranked reporters in job interviews according to how negative they were regarding tech companies, viewing that as a favorable trait, and had urged Ms. Angwin to run headlines on future stories like ‘Facebook is a dumpster fire.’ Ms. Angwin said her objections had led Ms. Gardner to seek her removal as editor in chief.
Here is the source (NYT), via Tom.
The U.S. saving rate declined by 8 percent between 1980 and 2009. We document that the decline can be explained by rising health expenditures. Using exogenous variation in medical expenses generated by FDA drug approvals, we document that a 1 percentage point increase in health expenditure generated a decline in saving rate of 0.9 percentage points. We then estimate a model of household decisions to evaluate the mechanisms behind the decline. We find that the rise in health expenses and drop in saving rate are driven by progress in health technology, reduction in co‐payment rates, and improvements in income processes.
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:
The first new study focuses on performance in high school, and the startling result is this: Girls with more exposure to high-achieving boys (as proxied by parental education) have a smaller chance of receiving a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, they do worse in math and science, are less likely to join the labor force, and more likely to have more children, which in turn may limit their later career prospects.
Those are disturbing results. Exposure to high-achieving peers is normally expected to be a plus, not a minus. It is what parents are trying to do when they place their children into better schools, or when school systems work hard to attract better students.
A second new study finds that even blind review does not avoid gender bias in the processing of grant proposal applications, drawn from data from the Gates Foundation. It turns out that women and men have different communications styles, with the women more likely to use narrow words, and the men more likely to use broader ones. And reviewers, it turns out, favor broad words, which are more commonly associated with more sweeping claims, and disfavor the use of too many narrow words.
The net result is that “even in an anonymous review process, there is a robust negative relationship between female applicants and the scores assigned by reviewers.” This discrepancy persists even after controlling for subject matter and other variables. Notably, however, it disappears when controlling for different rhetorical styles.
These two studies probably are connected to each other. While the two sets of researchers do not address each other’s claims, it is not a huge leap to think of broader, more sweeping language as reflecting a kind of confidence, whether merited or not. Narrow words, on the other hand, may reflect a lower level of confidence or a greater sense of rhetorical modesty. Not only might lower confidence hurt many women in life, but a greater unwillingness to signal confidence — regardless of whether it’s genuine — might hurt them too.
There is much more at the link, recommended.
In a bid to enhance interaction and business with the Chinese in Kano State, the Emir of Kano, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II has approved the appointment and instalment of a Chinese man, Mr Mike Zhang, as a chief and leader of the growing Chinese community in the northern Nigerian state.
Mr Mike Zhang, a Chinese trader in Kano will be referred to as “Wakilin Yan China” after his turbaning on April 25 at the Emir’s palace in Kano. He will be responsible for the proper management of the Chinese community and he would act as their representative in the Kano royalty in times of need.
That is the subtitle, the title of this very interesting book is News from Germany and the author is Heidi J.S. Tworek. Here are a few things I learned:
1. “News agencies became the central firms collecting international news from the mid-nineteenth century. The “Big Three” news agencies were all created in this period: Agence Havas in the early 1830s, Telgraphisches Bureau (Wolff) in 1849, and Reuters Telegram Company in 1851.”
2. There were very high fixed costs in telegraphic news gathering, and the telegraph was essential to being a major international news service. Those costs included financing a network of correspondents abroad and the expense of sending telegrams.
3. The three companies colluded, in part to lower the cost of news collection, and maintained a relatively stable cartel of sorts, running from 1870 up through the outbreak of World War II. World War I was a hiatus but not a break in the basic arrangement. The AP was added to the cartel in 1893.
4. These news agencies, being well-identified and somewhat monopolistic, were susceptible to political control, especially from Germany. But note that the British censored information coming from the Boer War.
5. The post WWII era was an exception, and throughout most of modern history it has been difficult to turn a profit by selling news coverage.
Anecdotally, he provides us with this gem:
“How is this tweet, from “Dina,” for showing lack of gratitude toward business? “If you think about it. People with glasses are literally paying to use their eyes. Capitalism is a bitch.” Shortly after it was posted, it had accumulated 257,000 likes, surely with more to come.”
What to do?
What Cowen has done is write this very important book, taking on the charges against capitalism/big business.
There is more at the link.
Philip Morris International, the tobacco company that sells Marlboro cigarettes, is getting into the life insurance business.
Called Reviti, the wholly owned subsidiary will initially sell life insurance in the U.K. with plans to expand into more markets overseas. Smokers will receive discounts if they stop, quit or switch to a possibly less carcinogenic product, like Philip Morris’ vaping devices.
On average, people who switch to e-cigarettes will receive a 2.5% discount on premiums, people who switch to Philip Morris’ heated tobacco product iQOS for three months will receive a 25% discount, and people who quit smoking for at least a year will receive a 50% discount, the company said. Premiums for a 20-year-old nonsmoker run about £5 ($6.47) per month for a life insurance policy that pays £150,000 ($194,125). The same premium would buy a £60,000 ($77,650) policy for a 40-year-old nonsmoker.
Here is more from Angelica LaVito, via Sheel.