A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: March, 2019

Read : 2019-03-26

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Why you procrastinate (it has nothing to do with self-control)“, by Charlotte Lieberman (NY Times, 2019-03-25). Spoiler alert : Check your attitude.
  2. What to do when it all goes wrong“, by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness (The Passion Paradox, 2018-08-07). A case study in empathy.
  3. How GMU students’ eating habits changed when delivery robots invaded their campus“, by Peter Holley (Washington Post, 2019-03-25). The future of delivery? Are younger generations willing to pay more for convenience?
  4. After Mueller report, news media leaders must defend their work“, by Amy Chozick (NY Times, 2019-03-25). This article references (in a shockingly shallow manner) Taibbi’s article. Unlike Taibbi, the author does not seem interested in holding the media (its parent paper included) responsible for accuracy in reporting or fomenting expectations or unrest.
  5. Depressed and anxious? These video games want to help“, by Laura Parker (NY Times, 2019-03-24). The video-game industry offers more interactive wrestling with mental health challenges.
  6. The election in Thailand was rigged“, by Thaksin Shinawatra (NY Times, 2019-03-25).
  7. Slower growth in ageing economies is not inevitable” (The Economist, 2019-03-26).

Read : 2019-03-25

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD“, by Matt Taibbi (Hate Inc., 2019-03-23). A sobering if politically charged reminder to think critically and demand evidence. The article raises several points. (1) Slippery slope of echo chambers. If people receive news exclusively from one side of the political spectrum, and news sources do not admit to errors (or bury such admissions where few will see them), mistaken and warped understanding accumulates. (2) Accusation versus conviction. The media, and the general public, have equated accusation with conviction. Not surprising, if people’s opinions are determined by beliefs, not facts. (3) Think critically! Don’t blindly accept what you hear or read. Follow up on your own. (But following up takes time. Who has that?) (4) Choosing sides versus seeking and vetting facts. The filters through which we perceive the world make being objective even harder. When we choose sides, we agree to ignore these filters.
  2. The beaches are nice. The inequality? Not so much“, by Justin Higginbottom (OZY, 2019-03-11). According to a Credit Suisse report (not linked — these data appear in their 2018 Global Wealth Databook: 2018 Gini index, page 117), in 2018, the richest 1% of Thailand’s population owned 67% of the country’s wealth. The hook story seems a staggering real-life instance of the fictional account in “A tale of two cities”.
  3. Another Parkland student has died by apparent suicide“, by Alejandro de la Garza (Time, 2019-03-24). “Stories” quickly fade from the media and the public’s memories, but not from those who (were forced to) live them. Note: “Police have not confirmed if the deceased student was enrolled at the high school last year…They have also not confirmed the cause of death,” currently calling it an “apparent suicide”.

Read : 2019-03-24

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. To understand China, look to America’s history“, by Katherine E. Epstein (Wall Street Journal, 2019-03-19). An analogy between early 20th-century American and early 21st-century China. The author cites borrowing, imitating, or appropriating foreign technologies as typical for rising powers. She also warns of economy- and society-wide harm potentially arising from a foreign power dominating key infrastructure, citing Britain’s ability to disrupt foreign trade in the early 20th century.
  2. The college admissions game brings out the snob in everyone“, by Joseph Epstein (Wall Street Journal, 2019-03-19). Viewing the recent college-admissions scandal through the lens of a society in which parents place their importance and self-worth on the name of the schools their children attend.

Read : 2019-03-23

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Tesla sales slump as ’19 starts is hinted at in state data“, by Neal E. Boudette (NY Times, 2019-03-22). Using new-car registrations from DMVs to estimate new car sales. The “payback” effect in the auto industry. Sales gimmicks and price increases (with a short window of delay) as signs of desperation to move merchandise.
  2. Owning a car will soon be as quaint as owning a horse“, by Kara Swisher (NY Times, 2019-03-22). This article lacks supporting data and logic. Ms. Swisher acknowledges, but does not address, differences in rural versus urban settings. Autonomous vehicles may (pardon the pun) drive up CO2 emissions, because it may be cheaper to drive around than to park short-term in expensive city parking lots.

Read : 2019-03-21

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. After Google, EU’s antitrust sights may turn to Amazon and Apple“, by Aoife White (Bloomberg, 2019-03-20).
  2. Did Apple execute major buyback“, by Bill Maurer (Seeking Alpha, 2019-03-20).
  3. Consumers are doubling — or tripling — down on streaming TV“, by Danny Vena (Motley Fool, 2019-03-20).
  4. Winter delight“, by John Cuneo (New Yorker, 2016-01-25). The cover art of the Jan. 25, 2016 issue.

Read : 2019-03-13

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. The growth mindset problem“, by Carl Hendrick (Aeon, 2019-03-11). Research-style “interventions” fail to reproduce lab results in the classroom. The author concludes that the growth mindset might be better as philosophy than intervention, better as an implicit mores than an explicit slogan. Might Dweck et al. not reply, “Duh!”?
  2. Bribe styles of the rich and famous” (The Economist, 2019-03-13). Wow. The article hits the nail on the head when it bemusedly notes that there are legal, albeit more expensive, means of achieving the same results, “which for some reason generat[e] less [public] outrage”.

In investing (as always, take others’ analysis critically):

  1. 3 tech stocks to sell in March“, by Tezcan Gecgil (Investor Place, 2019-03-12). Analysis of Netflix, PayPal, and Snap.
  2. Eventbrite: Turning cautious after multiple red flags emerge“, by Gary Alexander (Seeking Alpha, 2019-03-13). Analysis of some depth, despite misspelling the CEO’s name.

Read : 2019-03-12

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Russia blocks encrypted email provider ProtonMail“, by Zack Whittaker (Tech Crunch, 2019-03-11). Russia’s Federal Security Service (formerly the KGB) is alleged to have instructed Russian Internet providers to implement BGP blackholing against ProtonMail and several servers on the Tor network. The article cites the Russian government’s desire to control the Internet as motive. While they obtained no confirmation from Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Internet regulator, TechCrunch does post excerpts from an e-mail from ProtonMail’s CEO.
  2. How the internet travels across oceans“, by Adam Satariano (NY Times, 2019-03-10).
  3. Trapdoor commitments in the SwissPost e-voting shuffle proof“, by Sarah Jamie Lewis, Olivier Pereira, & Vanessa Teague (University of Melborune, 2019). See also the independent discovery and analysis by Rolf Haenni
  4. The World Wide Web — not the Internet — turns 30 years old“, by Aja Romano (Vox, 2019-03-12). The article’s presentation of Internet and Web history is fun, but its explanation of the difference is vague. Cue Wikipedia to the rescue. (What follows is my interpretation thereof.) Internet = Interconnected network of (computer) networks using a common linking protocol (TCP/IP). World Wide Web (aka W3) = Digital resources formatted and identified in a standard way (via HTML and URLs, respectively) that users can access via web browsers using the Internet. (For an explanation of TCP/IP, see the three articles following.)
    1. Internet protocol suite” (Wikipedia). The neo-classical reference.
    2. An overview of TCP/IP protocols and the Internet“, by Gary C. Kessler (Gary Kessler, 1994-08-05 — 2019-03-05).
    3. How do computers talk to each other on the Internet?“, by Christina Warren (Mashable, 2012-10-17). Short, less technical explanation citing the above.
  5. 30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb?“, by Tim Berners-Lee (Web Foundation, 2019-03-12). Berners-Lee advocates Web availability for all and highlights three “sources of dysfunction”: (1) deliberate and malicious intent, (2) unintended consequences of system design, and (3) system design that incentivizes actions detrimental to users (Berners-Lee specifically cites “ad-based revenue models”).
  6. A quantum experiment suggests there’s no such thing as objective reality“, by Emerging Technology (MIT Technology Review, 2019-03-12).

Read : 2019-03-10

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. FIFA’s record finances reignites World Cup pay parity debate“, by Rob Harris (Associated Press, 2019-03-06).
  2. US wraps up SheBelieves Cup with 1-0 win over Brazil“, by Anne M. Peterson (Associated Press, 2019-03-05). Groups for the 2019 Women’s World Cup have been announced.
  3. Compare any two colleges from the WSJ/THE college rankings” (Wall Street Journal, 2019-03-06). For reference only.
  4. Facebook plans new emphasis on private communications“, by Jeff Horwitz (Wall Street Journal, 2019-03-06).
  5. Trump administration weighs publicizing secret rates hospitals and doctors negotiate with insurers“, by Stephanie Armour & Anna Wilde Mathews (Wall Street Journal, 2019-03-07). Related, see the American Hospital Association’s public position on hospital price transparency.
  6. Worry about debt? Not so fast, some economists say“, by David Harrison & Kate Davidson (Wall Street Journal, 2019-02-17).

Cool archive:

  1. The Putnam archive“. Problems and solutions from recent Putnam exams.

Read : 2019-03-03

Today’s selection of articles:

  1. Dollars on the margins“, by Matthew Desmond (NY Times, 2019-02-21).
  2. The benefits of optimism are real“, by Emily Esfahani Smith (Atlantic, 2013-03-01). The films Silver linings playbook and Life of Pi form a launch pad for a correlation between positivity and resilience. In particular, psychologists like Barbara Fredrickson often cite people’s mindset about challenges: Are they opportunities for growth, or threats?
  3. Estonia is running its country like a tech company“, by Kersti Kalijulaid (Quartz, 2019-02-19). Estonian President Kalijulaid touches on several interesting points:
    • Trade-offs exist. Trade-offs are real and (in the short-term, at least) unavoidable. Early in its independence from the USSR, Estonia had to decide how to allocate its limited budget: how much to physical infrastructure, and how much to digital?
    • Innovation versus invention. Often, we don’t need to invent new tools, just apply existing tools in novel (or perhaps even well known) ways.
    • Max min. Reminiscent of John Rawls’ principles of justice, improving the lot of the least-well-off can improve the lot of society more widely. President Kalijulaid explicitly (and perhaps politically) emphasizes the importance of making basic technology accessible to all, rather than top technology to a select few.
    • Legal framework. Incentives, and the ability to enforce, depend heavily on the law. Personally, I would add that ideally this law be simple, so that it is both known and understood by the public generally, and fair, whose definition is open to debate.
    • Security is never absolute. This applies to physical, digital, blockchain, you name it.
    • Importance of trust. President Kalijulaid ends by asserting digital transformation is available to all countries. However, one of her three sine qua non is “the trust of your people”. Polls suggest that in many western democracies (e.g., the US), this trust is at or near historic lows.
  4. Why do you want a partner in your life?“, by Marion Lb (Medium, 2019-02-01). A proposal to view relationships as shared opportunities for growth. Under this view, growth requires challenge, and that can be uncomfortable. Relationships are not about “fixing” the other person, but “about being there…whilst they are fixing themselves[,] and loving them for it”.
  5. Doctors plan to test a gene therapy that could prevent Alzheimer’s disease“, by Antonio Regalado (MIT Technology Review, 2019-02-25). A new attempt to stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s by flooding at-risk patients with APOE2.
  6. Apple and Facebook fighting international encryption battle“, by Robert McMillan & Dustin Volz (Wall Street Journal, 2019-02-26).
  7. Should you invest in Uber or Lyft’s IPOs next year? Try neither“, by Tiernan Ray (The Street, 2018-12-12).
  8. Everything you wanted to know about the biomechanics of the Nike Vaporfly 4%“, by Allison Goldstein (Runner’s World, 2019-02-23).
  9. Emma Stone talks ‘Irrational man’, the Sony hack and keeping her personal life private“, by Josh Eells (Wall Street Journal, 2015-06-17). Through the looking glass back to the summer of 2015. Also, I did not realize that Emma Stone appeared in an episode of “Malcolm in the middle”.
  10. Oscars 2019: The full list of winners” (Vogue, 2019-02-24). Fashion photos at end.