10 Weekend Reads

Good Saturday morning. Pour yourself a hot cup-o-joe, settle into your favorite easy chair, and enjoy our longer form weekend reads:

• She Short Sells Shoes On A Shopping Site (Medium)
• China is Planning to Purge Foreign Technology and Replace With Homegrown Suppliers (Bloomberg)
• Market Fundamentalism & the Power of Bad Ideas (Boston Review) see also Slavery and Capitalism (Chronicle of Higher Education)
• The Army Is Building An Algorithm To Prevent Suicide (fivethirtyeight.com)
• Lucasfilm Owns All of Your Droids (Priceonomics)
• The Steep Cost of America’s High Incarceration Rate (WSJ)
• Silicon Valley Predictions For 2015: There Will Be Blood (ValleyWag) see also Fred Wilson: What Just Happened? (AVC)
• What 800 Nerds on a Cruise Ship Taught Me About Life, the Universe, and Snorkeling (Wired)
• A scandal’s long shadow: Football’s back, but the valley isn’t happy. Penn Staters still seethe over Paterno’s treatment. (Philly.com)
• The Tragedy of the American Military: The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win. (The Atlantic)

Whats up for the weekend?


U.S. Muni-Bond Market Is on a Tear

Source: WSJ


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Discussions found on the web:
  1. Internet Tourettes commented on Jan 3

    I’m all for peer review in an academic setting but this looks more like an assault based on ideology as opposed to statistical methodology. Too bad that these same economists never performed the same level of review on “Growth in a Time of Debt” by Reinhart and Rogoff which was riddled with basic statistical flaws and errors that could only be found by a graduate student at Amherst…. Harvard should be ashamed…..

    From Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2015-01-02/french-economist-thomas-piketty-faces-trial-by-peers#r=lr-sr

    “This weekend, though, Piketty faces a trial conducted by some of the world’s top academic economists—his peers. And from the looks of it, they won’t be going easy. Presiding over the session is N. Gregory Mankiw, a conservative economist at Harvard University who was a chief economic adviser to President George W. Bush.”

  2. rd commented on Jan 3

    Re: The Tragedy of the American Military

    If you read this piece, Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, and Part One of The Second Amendment by Michael Waldmann, you come to the conclusion very quickly that the Founding Fathers, Civil War participants, and the WW I and WW II soldiers would be quite upset with the current state of the US military and its priorities.

    After the American Revolution, there was a huge push to not have a standing national army but to rely on state militias instead (that pesky “well-regulated militia” that nobody understands today). The War of 1812 started the path down the road to the large standing military that exists today after the militias couldn’t prevent the British from sacking Washington.

    It would be nice if we could have real, meaningful debates about the US military and what it is expected to do and why it should be equipped. Instead, we get sound bites about whether or not somebody is wearing a flag pin on their lapel.

    The British largely held their empire together for a century by using a segment of a local population to exert control over the rest of the territory in places like India. The Soviets, and even Nazi Germany did much the same thing. It is unreasonable to parachute in US soldiers into a foreign land and a foreign culture and expect them to keep the peace in a place that really doesn’t want them around or establish a democratic national government in a culture that only pays lip service to the concepts of country or democracy. The only times that have worked have been in places like Germany, Italy, and Japan that were literally crushed and exhausted into submission. The mighty power of the US military today only exacerbates the situation because they defeat armies so quickly and decisively with relatively little bloodshed that there is no crushing or exhaustion. Instead there is a bunch of demobilized and humiliated soldiers that want to re-establish their manhood and can do it with guerilla warfare.



    • ilsm commented on Jan 3

      Friedman tilted with General Westmoreland in the “all volunteer force” debate as “slave [conscript] versus [volunteers] mercenary”. What US got is a guild-like idolatry toward career military whose discipline had eroded to the same as NYPD union going off on Mayor DeBalsio.

      Laying off war profiteers would be unconscionable, therefore, don’t fund roads and bridges, cut food stamps, reduce medicare, slash medicaid and starve social security.

      Readiness; war preparation based on whim (profitable fictions) to be executed by generals out to prove theory (and go to work for the suppliers) rather than achieve national goals.

      The road to fascism!

    • willid3 commented on Jan 3

      originally the US wasnt going to have a standing army. might have a standing navy though. but that wasnt all that unusual as the first really large standing army was Rome’s, before that it was pretty much unusual. but since the 1800s, its become more of the norm, probably because it became much easier to travel across the globe. now all but one country has standing militarizes. now one might consider that maybe a reorganization of our military wouldnt be a bad idea, after all, we are among the few that still have marine corp. course the majority of current US fighters all originated back in the 1960s, only one was from the 1990s, and we have only once had all of the fighters be the same aircraft. but even then, the marine version wasnt that different than the others. not sure why we think we can do that and make them cheap, since they would have so much a different environment and usage. so maybe the best choice would have been to have built separate aircraft, but at different times.

  3. rd commented on Jan 3

    It is good to see the WSJ carrying opinion pieces on the American Prison State. I think readers of this blog would be stunned by the numbers of kids in my wife’s classroom each year who have one or more parents in jail, usually for minor drug offences. This is establishing a permanent underclass that will be forever under-employed.It is one of the biggest single determinants of how the kids do in school (please note that the politicians don’t mention this when they discuss the Common Core and teacher evaluations).

    It has been well-documented that the draconian sentencing laws in place often force innocent people to make guilty pleas simply so they won’t spend decades in jail as they can’t afford a decent lawyer who could put up a good fight at trial.

    If this Republican Congress did nothing but decriminalize marijuana and reform drug sentencing laws, it would probably have a bigger positive impact on the economy over the next two decades than any other action they could do other than infrastructure spending.

  4. Jojo commented on Jan 3

    Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security
    By SPIEGEL Staff

    US and British intelligence agencies undertake every effort imaginable to crack all types of encrypted Internet communication. The cloud, it seems, is full of holes. The good news: New Snowden documents show that some forms of encryption still cause problems for the NSA.

    When Christmas approaches, the spies of the Five Eyes intelligence services can look forward to a break from the arduous daily work of spying. In addition to their usual job — attempting to crack encryption all around the world — they play a game called the “Kryptos Kristmas Kwiz,” which involves solving challenging numerical and alphabetical puzzles. The proud winners of the competition are awarded “Kryptos” mugs.

    Encryption — the use of mathematics to protect communications from spying — is used for electronic transactions of all types, by governments, firms and private users alike. But a look into the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that not all encryption technologies live up to what they promise.


  5. Jojo commented on Jan 3

    5,200 Days in Space
    An exploration of life aboard the International Space Station, and the surprising reasons the mission is still worthwhile

    Charles Fishman
    January/February 2015

    When humans move to space, we are the aliens, the extraterrestrials. And so, living in space, the oddness never quite goes away. Consider something as elemental as sleep. In 2009, with the expansive International Space Station nearing completion after more than a decade of orbital construction, astronauts finally installed some staterooms on the U.S. side–four private cubicles about the size of airplane lavatories. That’s where the NASA astronauts sleep, in a space where they can close a folding door and have a few hours of privacy and quiet, a few hours away from the radio, the video cameras, the instructions from Mission Control. Each cabin is upholstered in white quilted material and equipped with a sleeping bag tethered to an inside wall. When an astronaut is ready to sleep, he climbs into the sleeping bag.

    “The biggest thing with falling asleep in space,” says Mike Hopkins, who returned from a six-month tour on the Space Station last March, “is kind of a mental thing. On Earth, when I’ve had a long day, when I’m mentally and physically tired–when you first lie down on your bed, there’s a sense of relief. You get a load off your feet. There’s an immediate sense of relaxation. In space, you never feel that. You never have that feeling of taking weight off your feet–or that emotional relief.” Some astronauts miss it enough that they bungee-cord themselves to the wall, to provide a sense of lying down.

    Sleep position presents its own challenges. The main question is whether you want your arms inside or outside the sleeping bag. If you leave your arms out, they float free in zero gravity, often drifting out from your body, giving a sleeping astronaut the look of a wacky ballet dancer. “I’m an inside guy,” Hopkins says. “I like to be cocooned up.”

    Hopkins says he didn’t have unusual dreams in space, although now, back on Earth, he does occasionally dream of floating through the station. “I wish I dreamed every night of floating,” he says. “I wish I could recapture that.”

    Spaceflight has faded from American consciousness even as our performance in space has reached a new level of accomplishment. In the past decade, America has become a truly, permanently spacefaring nation. All day, every day, half a dozen men and women, including two Americans, are living and working in orbit, and have been since November 2000. Mission Control in Houston literally never sleeps now, and in one corner of a huge video screen there, a counter ticks the days and hours the Space Station has been continuously staffed. The number is rounding past 5,200 days.


  6. mrflash818 commented on Jan 3

    re: Nerd Cruise

    Fantastic! I had no idea such themed cruises existed.

    Sincerely, thanks for sharing that one.

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