A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: April, 2013

Read — 2013/04/27

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Europe Facing More Pressure to Reconsider Cuts as a Cure“, by Andrew Higgins (NY Times). European leaders do an about-face vis-à-vis the 2011 review (“This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly”) of financial crises by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. A prudent move or merely a convenient ground for policy change? (Also featured in the article is the economist Guntram Wolff.)
  2. In Speech to Planned Parenthood, Obama Criticizes New Abortion Laws“, by Peter Baker (NY Times). Said Obama, “You’ve also got a president who’s going to be right here with you fighting every stop of the way”.
  3. Dutch Man Said to Be Held in Powerful Internet Attack“, by Nicole Perlroth (NY Times). M Kamphuis’s offense: DDoS, or distributed denial of service. A subsequent attack volleyed fire of 300 GB per second, “slowing Internet traffic for millions of Internet users worldwide”.
  4. Haute Hostels Put to the Test“, by Seth Sherwood (NY Times). For those of you considering a trip to Paris, Lisbon, Barcelona, or Berlin. And a personal recommendation, for those of you visiting Milan: Ostello Bello.

Read — 2013/04/26

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Health Chaos Ahead“, by David Brooks (NY Times). “[T]he clear majority [of health-care experts]…believe that we’re probably in for a few years of shambolic messiness, during which time everybody will scramble and adjust, and eventually we will settle down to a new normal”. Brooks prophesies of various “cascades”: structural, technical, cost, adverse-selection, and provider-concentration.
  2. Looking at Facebook’s Friend and Relationship Status through Big Data“, by Nick Bilton (NY Times). A few findings about friends, boy/girl friends, and marriage.
  3. Judging ‘Gatsby’ by Its Cover(s)“, by Julie Bosman (NY Times). Art deco vs DiCaprio: Round 1. Fight!
  4. Soviet Announces Nuclear Accident at Electric Plant“, by Serge Schmemann (NY Times, 28 Apr 1986). Remembering the tragedy of Chernobyl.

Read — 2013/04/25

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Possible Fed Successor Has Admirers and Foes“, by Binyamin Appelbaum (NY Times). Janet Yellen, Vice Chair of the Board of Governers of the Federal Reserve, finds the spotlight as “Most Likely to Replace Bernanke” in 2014. Said former Chairman Alan Greenspan, “she articulates her position in a way that you can follow it analytically”; however, some financiers are chary of her commitment to low inflation.
  2. Joint Effort Seeks Drugs for Autism“, by Katie Thomas (NY Times). UCLA is to lead a $9 “Fast Fail” program for autism drugs. According to the article, “one in 50 children aged 6 to 17 ha[ve] been found to have autism or a related disorder”.
  3. Learning from China, but What?“, by Yu Hua (NY Times). Chinese author Yu Hua pooh-poohs the recent Schwartzman Scholars announcement, seeming to favor the response “Now we teach them”. Another response to the Qing dynasty joke: Rather than breaking a perfectly good bamboo pole in two, perhaps the visitor can solicit the help of one of the natives of the city to carry the pole through the gate like a train through a tunnel.
  4. Despair Drives Guantánamo Detainees to Revolt“, by Charlie Savage (NY Times). A delicate situation indeed, and proof of the power of hope (or lack thereof). 93 of Guantánamo’s 166 prisoners are participating in a hunger strike, some being force-fed through nasal tubes to keep them alive. Intelligence agencies report that 16% of released detainees where confirmed to have taken part in terrorist activities post release, and another 11% suspected of having done so. (One wonders what qualifies as “taking part” and “terrorist activities”.)
  5. Energy” (NY Times). Not an article, but a gateway to several articles on the future of energy.

Happy birthday to Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Wolfgang Pauli, and Ella Fitzgerald!

Read — 2013/04/24

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. In Hard Times, Open Dissent and Repression Rise in Vietnam“, by Thomas Fuller (NY Times). “Dissent is flourishing, but at the same time, so is repression”.
  2. Why Tim Cook Is Like Steve Ballmer“, by Nick Wingfield (NY Times). Seemingly healthy companies stuck in “investor purgatory”.
  3. A Health Provider Finds Success in Keeping Hospital Beds Empty“, by Annie Lowrey (NY Times). “Accountable care” programs use financial targets and incentives to hospitals and doctors to contain health-care costs costs. A key development in controlling costs, or HMO 2.0?
  4. The Young Salinger, Mordant Yet Hopeful“, by Dave Itzkoff (NY Times). Speaking of the costs of health care…the costs of health care bring nine revealing letters from a young J.D. Salinger to light. Insight into the life and self-prospects of an aspiring author: “It will doubtless tear the country’s heart out, and return the thing a far richer organ. (I’ll probably fail completely with it.)”

Happy birthday to the Library of Congress!

Read — 2013/04/23

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Boston Suspect Is Charged and Could Face the Death Penalty“, by Katharine Q. Seelye, Michael S. Schmidt, & William K. Rashbaum (NY Times).
  2. Another Scourge in His Sights“, by Donald G. McNeil, Jr. (NY Times). A profile of Dr. Donald R. Hopkins, bravely eradicating the world of the guinea worm disease. After reading the description of the disease, you, like Dr. Hopkins’s mother, will encourage him, “Don’t Quit“.
  3. The Confidence Question“, by David Brooks (NY Times). M Brooks solicits his readers’ help to answer questions about confidence and gender, overconfidence versus underconfidence.
  4. Game Theory: Jane Austen Had It First“, by Jennifer Schuessler (NY Times). UCLA political science professor Michael Chwe argues that Jane Austen, not John von Neumann, is the true father — er, mother — of game theory.

Read — 2013/04/22

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The Week Ahead: April 19th 2013” (The Economist). From The Economist: “London hosts a marathon, the trial of Alexei Navalny begins, Paraguay holds elections and an elephant bird egg goes to auction”.
  2. Young China Hands“, by G.E. (The Economist). The article finds M Schwarzman’s goal for his scholarship: “in 30 years’ time, the president of the United States will have been on a Schwarzman to Tsinghua, instead of a Rhodes to Oxford”.
  3. Chechnya and the Bombs in Boston“, by J.Y. (The Economist). “‘[L]osers’ who didn’t know what to make of themselves in America and…’hating everyone who did'”.
  4. Orbital in Orbit“, by T.C. (The Economist). A second privately run space company sends a rocket into orbit.
  5. G.O.P. Lawmakers Push to Have Boston Suspect Questioned as Enemy Combatant“, by Charlie Savage (NY Times).
  6. In Europe, Paid Permits for Pollution Are Fizzling“, by Stanley Reed & Mark Scott (NY Times). Markets for carbon emissions permits freeze up.
  7. Cancer Centers Racing to Map Patients’ Genes“, by Anemona Hartocollis (NY Times). The cost, benefit, and race of precision medicine.

Happy birthday Immanuel Kant, Charles Mingus, Jr., and J. Robert Oppenheimer!

Read — 2012/04/21

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Danes Rethink a Welfare State Ample to a Fault“, by Suzanne Daley (NY Times). One of Europe’s most generous welfare states begins prodding its citizens “into working more or longer or both”. Telling is the following remark from Karen Haekkerup, minister of social affairs and integration: “In the past, people never asked for help unless they needed it…But now people do not have that mentality. They think of these benefits as their rights.” Stigmatizing welfare benefits is a subtle game to play; better perhaps to encourage a more community-oriented mindset among citizens.
  2. $300 Million Scholarship for Study in China Signals a New Focus“, by Keith Bradsher (NY Times). Set to begin in 2016, the Schwarzman Scholars program is to offer 200 all-expenses-paid scholarships each year for 1-year Master’s programs at Tsinghua University.
  3. Two Cheers for Web U!“, by A.J. Jacobs (NY Times). As the spring semester comes to a close, A.J. Jacobs turns the tables and grades his massive online open courses (MOOCs). He highlights student-to-student interaction and assignments as two aspects MOOCs should strive to improve. As a bonus (to the reader), the article gets an A for style and wit.
  4. An Instant Path to an Online Army“, by Randall Stross (NY Times).
  5. Big Data, Trying to Build Better Workers“, by Steve Lohr (NY Times).
  6. Is It Time for Off-the-Shelf Birth-Control Pills?“, by Elisabeth Rosenthal (NY Times).

Happy birthday to Queen Elizabeth II, John Muir, and Max Weber!

Read — 2013/04/20

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. 2nd Bombing Suspect Caught after Frenzied Hunt Paralyzes Boston“, by Katharine Q. Seelye, William K. Rashbaum, & Michael Cooper (NY Times).
  2. The Anxiety of the Unanswered E-Mail“, by Alina Tugend (NY Times). Deciphering the meaning of — and reason for — the non-reply. One tactic suggested by an interviewee: “If the issue is not resolved within six e-mails,…pick up the phone”.
  3. A Digital Eye to Watch Soccer’s Trouble Spots“, by Sam Borden (NY Times). Football contemplates incorporating real-time technology to aid referees.
  4. Measuring College Prestige vs. Cost of Enrollment“, by Paul Sullivan (NY Times). A discussion of factors in the college decision. References The College Solution, a blog by Lynn O’Shaughnessy.

Read — 2013/04/16

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Blasts at Boston Marathon Kill 3 and Injure 100“, by John Eligon & Michael Cooper (NY Times). How to respond to such horrific, senseless tragedy? The NY Times editorial board offers words of resilience.
  2. French Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill“, by Scott Sayare (NY Times). A final vote in the Assemblée nationale is scheduled for next week.
  3. Europe Split over Austerity as a Path to Growth“, by Annie Lowrey (NY Times).
  4. Online Furor Draws Press to Abortion Doctor’s Trial“, by Trip Gabriel (NY Times).
  5. Collecting Data on the Habits of Passengers Underground“, by Matt Flegenheimer (NY Times). Top findings:
    • “Riders who choose to stand were ‘overwhelmingly attracted’ to vertical poles”. Obviously — we’re all secretly pole-dancers. Duh. Have the researchers ever essayed a provocative dance routine on an overhead graspable strap?
    • “New York’s gentlemen do live up to the cultural expectations regarding giving up seats to ladies and children”. And subsequently cursing madly at them when cut off in the above-ground streets.
    • “[A]symmetric doors…would stagger the crowds that tend to form near them”. And would make it much, much harder to hop across platforms through stopped trains.
  6. A Madman, but Angelic“, by Robin Williams (NY Times). For zee troops!

Read — 2013/04/15

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Justices Consider whether Patents on Genes Are Valid“, by Andrew Pollack (NY Times). A case concerning the patent-protection of genes highlights the differing gaits of genetic advances and the legal system.
  2. German Elites Drawn to Anti-Euro Party, Spelling Trouble for Merkel“, by Nicholas Kulish and Melissa Eddy (NY Times). A new, highly educated political party pushes to end the European monetary union.
  3. More Cracks Undermine the Citadel of TV Profits“, by David Carr (NY Times). The strategy of bundling begins to unwind.
  4. Titanic Sinks Four Hours after Hitting Iceberg” (NY Times, 16 April 1912).

A good day (historically) for science: Happy birthday to Leonardo da Vinci, Leonhard Euler, and Nikolaas Tinbergen. Also a birthday shout-out to Henry James.