A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: October, 2013

Read — 2013/10/22

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Obama Admits Web Site Flaws on Health Law“, by Michael D. Shear & Robert Pear (NY Times). Better to own up, offer candid information about the situation, and implement concrete steps to remedy the shortcomings. Extending the enrollment period would be a good place to start.
  2. French Condemn Surveillance by N.S.A.“, by Alissa J. Rubin (NY Times). The fallout from Snowden’s revelation continues, with accusations that the N.S.A. has been spying on allies. The article notes that “France runs its own version of a spying program on the Americans, which came to light in 2010” and contends that French intelligence conducts electronic eavesdropping on its own citizens.
  3. Sales Are Cololssal, Shares Are Soaring. All Amazon Is Missing Is a Profit“, by David Streitfeld (NY Times). The quote from a London analyst Benedict Evans may be most telling: “Bezos has chosen to run Amazon to be the biggest, most powerful and successful retailer on Earth 20 years from now. Any fool could run it profitably today.”
  4. ‘Airpocalypse’ Hits Harbin, Closing Schools“, by Mia Li (NY Times). The Chinese city of Harbin (in northeast China; urban population over 5 million) is paralyzed by pollution so dense visibility is less than 10 meters in places. Doctors’ recommendation: Wear masks and eat pears.

Read — 2013/10/21

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Why Is the Liquidity Trap“, by R.A. (The Economist). An argument for higher US inflation targets — and a change in Dr. Krugman’s modus operandi. Bets on which will change first?
  2. Yes, Economics Is a Science“, by Raj Chetty (NY Times). It is disturbing that Dr. Chetty seems to seriously feel that economics is summarily dismissed. More interesting is his view that economic theory is becoming more “testable”, or at least more tested. If emphasis within the field encourages this union between theoretical advancements and empirical tests, perhaps Dr. Chetty will feel less compelled to write a follow-up article (on this topic) five years hence.
  3. Contractors See Weeks of Work on Health Site“, by Sharon LaFraniere, Ian Austen, & Robert Pear (NY Times). Implementation woes and government bungling of coordination and communication mar health care reform.
  4. An Industry of Mediocrity“, by Bill Keller (NY Times). Teacher-training programs are springing up outside the classical ivy-grown university walls. Among their clarion call: make teacher programs more selective; emphasize study of the material, not just the methods; have longer periods of active mentorship for new teachers.

Read — 2013/10/18

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Sleep: The Brain’s Housekeeper?“, by Emily Underwood (Science). A summary of a recent Science article (“Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain“, by Xie et al.) finding that glial channels, which “transpor[t] waste-laden cerebrospinal fluid”, expand 60% during sleep in mice. While there is still much research to be done, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that sleep deprivation causes brain damage.
  2. Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind“, by David Kidd & Emanuele Castano (Science). The authors report results from five studies suggesting that reading fiction improves performance on Theory of Mind (ToM) tests, both affective ToM (“the ability to detect and understand others’ emotions”) and cognitive ToM (“the inference and representation of others’ beliefs and intentions”).
  3. The Godfather, Part II“, by Sophia Roosth (Science). A review of J. Craig Venter’s new book, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life.
  4. Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia“, by James Risen (NY Times).
  5. The High-End Matchmaking Service for Tycoons“, by Dan Crane (NY Times). Being rich doesn’t solve those the problem of finding your soul mate — but it does let you hire pricey specialists.

Read — 2013/10/17

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The Nobel Prize Is a Three-Way Split“, by C.R. (The Economist). A brief discussion of the research that garnered Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, and Robert Shiller this year’s Nobel in Economics.
  2. How Science Goes Wrong” (The Economist). An article highlighting the disturbing increase of spurious published results — and possible steps to fight it.
  3. The Meaning of Sachin” (The Economist). India’s “God of cricket” announces his retirement.
  4. Search Tools Wanting on Many Exchanges“, by Abby Goodnough (NY Times). Software malfunctions and inaccurate or missing information frustrate initial searches on health-insurance exchanges.

Read — 2013/10/15

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Scott Adams’ Secret of Success: Failure“, by Scott Adams (Wall Street Journal). Adams promotes persistence over passion, and system over goals.
  2. Tim Gunn: A Lifetime of Making It Work“, by Jennifer Conlin (NY Times). A great mind and mentor to fashion aspirants in school and on show receives recognition with an Emmy and an article.
  3. The Meaning of ‘Osu’/’Oss’“, by Jesse Enkamp (Karate by Jesse). Just for fun.

Read — 2013/10/10

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Knowledge for earnings’ sake” (The Economist). Research by two Harvard economists suggests that average-quality teachers increase the expected aggregate income of each class they teach by $1.4 million, compared to the worst-quality teachers.
  2. Yellen’s Path from Liberal Theorist to Fed Voice for Jobs“, by Binyamin Appelbaum (NY Times).
  3. By 2047, Coldest Years May Be Warmer than Hottest in Past, Scientists Say“, by Justin Gillis (NY Times).
  4. A Novel Prompts a Conversation about How We Use Technology“, by Julie Bosman & Claire Cain Miller (NY Times). In his recent novel “The Circle”, Dave Eggers portrays an alarming if not entirely realistic dysutopian world under a technology monopolist.