Saturday, February 19, 2011

One-paragraph

How can Ed Glaeser write about 'treating the seller of kidneys with respect' and 'capable of choosing for himself or herself even in difficult circumstances' 150 years after Marx explained all about economic coercion? Would he treat the choice of this girl (scroll to end) with respect, too? It is all very well to value any contract when the valuer has never had to 'enter into an inequitable arrangement out of fear of starvation, or economic ruin', or at least if the inequitableness always stayed small enough. Also check out Eric's comment: The point is that while economics may be in theory non-normative, it often doesn't stay that way in practice.
Two asides:

1. Relying on charity, including government charity, does not count as an out from economic coercion if the charity is the Dickensian kind, as is very often the case.
2. In contrast to XVII-XIXc. western Europe and Britain, economic coercion was much less acute in America because of easy availability of land to farm, prairie to ranch and forest to fell. This might have blinded American economists to economic coercion.

Why astronomers should not get sucked too much into Dark Energy-related projects:

1. won't advance astrophysics on a broad front, instruments not likely to be useful for much else (experiment vs observatory);
2. large collaboration culture of fundamental physics experiments will scare away young talent looking to make an original contribution;
3. negative impact on astronomy's image as "ambassador of physics" because subject too abstract and removed from everyday experience.
Interesting statistics on bibliographical changes in astrophysics papres over 30 years: citations/article x4, authors/article x2, partly because of 'the use of citations as measure of performance'. Note: the dynamic is similar to the degradation of programmer performance measures, only the timescale is much longer.

One-liners

How to set up authentication in HttpListener

Exact requirements for an IAsyncResult implementation — could this be expressed in code?

Что редактор советского "Огонька" Коротич писал про Америку до и после перестройки

iPad imagined in 1988, but comes 10 years late (rus)

Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates — hippie vs serious boy (rus)

French gentleman's mansion, locked for 100 years, opens as a museum

Swedish anti-immigration party politician tries hard to avoid saying that Muslim immigrants are more prone to commit crimes

IQ negatively associated with criminality at individual level (review) and at county level. Association "not confounded by a measure of concentrated disadvantage that captures the effects of race, poverty, and other social disadvantages of the county."

IQ positively associated with attractiveness (full text), attractiveness measure is binary but appears legit

GxE in cognitive ability development (!)

People believe they have more free will and are more in control of their actions than others

Ruins of Detroit — check out the clueless comments

Kan's speech at Davos — Japan's society is probably less atomized than any Western one, but listen to him talk about strengthening social bonds.

This has to be part of the theory of the modern state: a government cutting off communications from fear of public protests produces a strong and public signal that makes protests more likely to occur and to succeed by overcoming protesters' communication problems for them at a stroke.