Favorite books by female authors

Elena Ferrante named her top forty, and I am not sure I approve of the exercise at all.  Still, here are my top twenty, in no particular order, fiction only, not counting poetry:

1.Lady Murasaki, Tale of Genji.

2. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

3. Alice Munro, any and all.

4. Elena Ferrante, the Neapolitan quadrology.

5. Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook.

6. Octavia Butler, Xenogenesis trilogy.

7. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

8. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

9. Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter.

10. Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

11. Virginia Woolf, many.

12. Willa Cather, My Antonia.

13. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

14. Jane Austen, Persuasion.

15. Anne Rice, The Witching Hour, and #2 in the vampire series.

16. Anaïs Nin? P.D.James? A general award to the mystery genre?

17. Christa Wolf, Cassandra.

18. Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian.

19. Irene Nemirovsky, Suite Francaise.

20. Ursula LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness.

Comments: No, I didn’t forget George Eliot, these are “my favorites,” not “the best.”  Maybe Edith Wharton would have made #21?  Or Byatt’s Possession?  The other marginal picks mostly would have come from the Anglosphere.  I learned my favorite Latin American writers are all male.

Radio and riots

Although the 1960s race riots have gone down in history as America’s most violent and destructive ethnic civil disturbances, a single common factor able to explain their insurgence is yet to be found. Using a novel data set on the universe of radio stations airing black-appeal programming, the effect of media on riots is found to be sizable and statistically significant. A marginal increase in the signal reception from these stations is estimated to lead to a 7% and 15% rise in the mean levels of the likelihood and intensity of riots, respectively. Several mechanisms behind this result are considered, with the quantity, quality, and the length of exposure to radio programming all being decisive factors.

That is from a recent paper by Andrea Bernini, a job market candidate from Oxford University.  We forget sometimes that arguably the internet is a more peace-inducing institution than was radio.

The political economy of Swine flu vaccine allocation

Previous research has isolated the effect of “congressional dominance” in explaining bureaucracy-related outcomes. This analysis extends the concept of congressional dominance to the allocation of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine doses. States with Democratic United States Representatives on the relevant House oversight committee received roughly 60,000 additional doses per legislator during the initial allocation period, though this political advantage dissipated after the first 3 weeks of vaccine distribution. As a result political factors played a role in determining vaccine allocation only when the vaccine was in particularly short supply. At-risk groups identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), such as younger age groups and first responders, do not receive more vaccine doses, and in fact receive slightly fewer units of vaccine.

That is from an Economic Inquiry paper by Matt E. Ryan.  Via Henry Thompson.

Mental health and Covid — correction

Earlier I had reported incorrectly that one in five Covid patients developed subsequently mental health problems.  Here is the original paper, and a more accurate rendering of the result is this:

“In the period between 14 and 90 days after COVID-19 diagnosis, 5.8% COVID-19 survivors had their first recorded diagnosis of psychiatric illness (F20–F48), compared with 2.5–3.4% of patients in the comparison cohorts. Thus, adults have an approximately doubled risk of being newly diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder after COVID-19 diagnosis.”

That is still a lot of mental health problems, but much smaller than the original claim.

For a pointer on the econometrics I thank Patrick Collison.

And here is a new paper Discussion of Mental Illness and Mental Health by NBA Players on Twitter.

Progress against HIV-AIDS hasn’t been reported enough

While an effective vaccine against HIV may still be a long way off, a new HIV prevention technique has proven remarkably effective at protecting women against the virus.

A single injection of a drug called cabotegravir every two months was so successful in preventing HIV in a clinical trial among women in sub-Saharan Africa that the study was wrapped up ahead of schedule.

The study, run by the HIV Prevention Trials Network, was looking at two forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis or (PrEP) aimed at women. PrEP is a technique of administering low doses of anti-AIDS drugs to people who are HIV negative as a way to protect them from infection. The study compared the effectiveness of the new long-acting injectable against the current form of PrEP, a daily pill of Truvada.

The findings were announced by the study’s researchers on Monday.

“This is a major, major advance,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in a briefing. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was involved in the study, Fauci has spent much of his career working on HIV/AIDS.

Here is the full NPR report, here is NYT coverage. Yes, it still needs to be easier to deliver.  But how many Americans, right now, could identify what cabotegravir is?  As I said earlier this morning, the great stagnation may be ending.

Covid travel markets in everything

EVA Airways, one of the largest carriers in Taiwan, is partnering with travel experience company Mobius on a campaign called “Fly! Love is in the Air.” These are flights for singles on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year Day.

“Because of Covid-19, EVA Air has been organizing “faux travel” experiences to fulfill people’s desire for travel. When single men and women travel, apart from enjoying the fun in travel, they may wish to meet someone — like a scene in a romantic movie,” Chiang Tsung-Wei, the spokesperson for You and Me, the speed dating arm of Mobius, tells CNN Travel.

Each of the dating experiences includes a three-hour flight that departs from Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport and circles the airspace above Taiwan, plus another two hours of a romantic date back on land.

Participants are encouraged to have in-depth conversations with each other on board while sampling meals prepared by Michelin-starred chef Motoke Nakamura. They are also encouraged to keep masks on when they’re not eating or drinking.

Here is the full story, via Air Genius Gary Leff.

Is the Great Stagnation over?

– A working mRNA vaccine (first ever in humans!),

– Apple M1 chip,

– SpaceX rocket launch,

– GPT-3,

– Tons of cool companies IPO’ing and tons more getting started,

– V-shaped recovery

– Electric cars

– Crypto going mainstream

That is from a tweet by Nabeel S.Qureshi.  One could add warp speed, affordable solar power, the eggplant, and distanced work to that list, the latter also implying significant rent declines and child care cost declines for many people.

Around the time The Great Stagnation came out in 2011, I predicted that it was most likely to end within the next twenty years.  We are not there yet, but that claim is no longer looking so absurd.

Note that the vaccine-driven recovery will measure as a rise in labor inputs, but in reality it will be pure TFP.  In 2021 (but which quarter?), true TFP will be remarkably high, maybe the highest ever?

What should I ask Benjamin M. Friedman?

As noted, Ben has a new and very interesting book coming out Religion and the Rise of Capitalism.  He is also the author of the superb The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, and the earlier Day of Reckoning, about the economic policies of the Reagan administration.  Ben has been a leading macroeconomist since the 1970s, and he taught me Ph.D. macro at Harvard in 1984, one of my favorite professors I might add.  Here is Ben on scholar.google.com.

So what should I ask him?