So I’m joining the rising tide of anti-intellectualism that’s destroying Classical Liberal Arts Institutions, or whatever, and taking a course on reactive programming on Coursera (one of those MOOCs that’s destroying &c.). Feels good to stretch my brain again; I’ve wanted an excuse properly to learn Scala for a while, and maybe this time around I’ll actually grok monads. (If you’re wondering what “reactive programming” is, it’s writing Erlang in languages that aren’t Erlang. So far as I can tell, at any rate.)
Is fairness a process thing or an outcome thing? I suspect most of us’ll pick one until we come across an instance of the other we don’t like, at which point things go all Black Monolith and we club each other with femurs.
- Do parents seek to maximize the social value of their children? (Marginal Revolution)
As I see it, many upper middle class parents desire their child to be slightly more successful than they are, and in related but not identical fields and ways.
- Why do firms prefer more able workers? (EconLog)
Duh, you say, which tells me you haven’t read it. “But why wouldn’t you prefer to hire a better worker?” Why didn’t you buy a Bentley Mulsanne instead of a used Camry? “So practical!” Shut up, you’ve made my point. Why hire a superstar developer for a gajillion dollars when all you need is someone to poke node.js with a stick? “But assholes drive Bentleys!” You think Mark Zuckerberg’s an asshole, don’t you? “Huh?” Just scroll down already.
- Stayaway from layaway (Marginal Revolution)
The real insight here is into the minds of so-called “consumer advocates”.
- Diffusion of responsibility (Popehat)
Teetering dangerously close to reaggravating my outrage fatigue.
- Dietary fat and heart disease (In The Pipeline)
Oh look, a nice comforting hobby-horse. Meta-analysis shows that “saturated fat is not the problem”. No shit, buttercup. Fat loss is widely correlated with improved cardiovascular health, and a fat loss diet is, de facto, high in saturated fat coming from your own god damn adipocytes. Here’s the paper’s author giving me an enormous confirmation-bias boner:
Saturated fat has been demonised ever since Ancel Keys’s landmark “seven countries” study in 1970. This concluded that a correlation existed between the incidence of coronary heart disease and total cholesterol concentrations, which then correlated with the proportion of energy provided by saturated fat. But correlation is not causation. Nevertheless, we were advised to cut fat intake to 30% of total energy and saturated fat to 10%.” The aspect of dietary saturated fat that is believed to have the greatest influence on cardiovascular risk is elevated concentrations of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Yet the reduction in LDL cholesterol from reducing saturated fat intake seems to be specific to large, buoyant (type A) LDL particles, when in fact it is the small, dense (type B) particles (responsive to carbohydrate intake) that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.
- Why not compulsory college? (EconLog)
We make kids go to school because it’s “good for them”, and everyone agrees that it’s “good for” kids to go to college. So why not round them up at gunpoint, herd them into cattle cars, and send ‘em off to West Bumfuck State?
- Reclaiming fairness: Competition policy (EconLog)
As odd as it may sound, the majority of time and resources of the FTC is not spent on punishing bad business practices as authorized in the FTC Act. The agency overwhelmingly concentrates on enforcing another act also passed in 1914, the Clayton Act, and specifically section 7, which prohibits mergers and acquisitions where the effect “may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.”
- The sad losers of politics (Marginal Revolution)
This is why I don’t blog about politics any more:
Pierce, Rogers and Snyder find that political partisans are more upset about an election loss than a random sample of parents were upset by the Newtown shootings.
- What are humans still good for? The turning point in freestyle chess may be approaching (Marginal Revolution)
An interesting discussion on how humans can add value to computer programs when those programs are really, really good. The context there is chess, which is a pretty well-understood game of finite complexity. I claim that humans have been doing this for decades in software development, whose practical complexity is limited only by what you can convince your publisher is actually possible. Worried about computers taking over your job? Computers have taken over mine on the regular over the past two decades, and as a result I keep getting better and more interesting jobs.
- The decline of creative destruction (EconLog)
“Creative destruction” is something that most people who aren’t raging anarchocapitalists like to write off as abstract, idealistic propaganda. Fortunately, Bryan Caplan is a raging an-cap, and he’s set it all out in time-series graphs so you can actually see it.
- Are students nicer than pornographers and domain traders? (Marginal Revolution)
I have to admit, I threw this in just for the shock value. But see previous no-think-link about college being good for kids.
- A theory of good intentions (Marginal Revolution)
Why do altruists help people? Because they want to be seen helping people. This should surprise precisely no-one.
- “I am a sick motherfucker!” (Deadspin)
Rob Ford lol.
Tune in next time for part 3, when we’ll discover whether this series is better-on-evens (Star Trek) or better-on-odds (Back to the Future)… or just shit (The Fast and the Furious).