Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Some tips for Lent

To my mind there are two ways of approaching Lent that actually produce substantial fruit. The first is to use the season as an opportunity to make permanent changes. Instead of giving up smoking for Lent, cut down on the amount that you smoke to a level that you intend to maintain. Instead of giving up credit cards for forty days, use those forty days to pay off one of your credit cards and then cancel that card for good. Instead of avoiding all social media, choose whichever social media account provides you with the least real benefit or community and put it to death.

That’s the boring way. It’s good, for sure, and it’s probably what I’m going to be doing this year because I just had a baby, I still haven’t recovered and I don’t have much energy to add new, cool, major changes to my life. However, for those of you who have the means and the opportunity, practicing radical renunciation is far and away the most fun way to get ready for Easter.
Radical renunciation. That's looking good.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Compare and contrast wealth

Should we ban being rich?
Reducing a person's assets from, say, $10 billion to $20 million, and limiting annual income to $1 million might sound outrageous. Perhaps cruel! But is it really all that terrible? How would it change the life of that person? Obviously it would not affect security, or health, or the ability to lead a comfortable, even luxurious, life. The only use for additional millions of dollars would be the ability to exercise more power, or to indulge in outlandish luxuries, such as owning several lavish homes in diverse places, or owning a jet airplane. The monetary loss might be perceived as a loss of prestige. But the last point would perhaps be softened by the fact that the same treatment would be inflicted on all other super-rich people, so there would generally not be much of a loss in standing. There are, very roughly, about 160,000 American families with assets over $20 million
Or understand that everyone can do it?
But while there are a lot of people who get rich through rent-seeking of various forms, and a lot who get rich by playing games that though not crooked are zero-sum, there are also a significant number who get rich by creating wealth. And creating wealth, as a source of economic inequality, is different from taking it—not just morally, but also practically, in the sense that it is harder to eradicate. One reason is that variation in productivity is accelerating. The rate at which individuals can create wealth depends on the technology available to them, and that grows exponentially. The other reason creating wealth is such a tenacious source of inequality is that it can expand to accommodate a lot of people.
If you ban people from making money, they may stop creating wealth, no? PG also reminds us that the problem is poverty, not that people have different levels of wealth, so why don't we attack that problem?
There are lots of things wrong with the US that have economic inequality as a symptom. We should fix those things. In the process we may decrease economic inequality. But we can't start from the symptom and hope to fix the underlying causes.

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Friday, January 08, 2016

RIP Sorting it all out

I am Jan and I am currently running this blog. In case this is your only contact point with Michael I thought you should know that Michael has passed away on October 21, 2015 in Redmond, after 25 years of fighting multiple sclerosis.
You will be missed.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Rollsigns and the 10 train

Oops.
As is evident from the green 10 bullet, at one point in developing the rollsigns on the R62 and R62A cars, the MTA reserved this route designation for the Lexington Ave. line. The agency never assigned the 10 to a route, but it’s safe to assume it would have served to differentiate today’s 5 trains. Perhaps the 10 could have been used for Nereid Ave.-bound East Side IRT trains.

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Support Rudy's

Free hot dogs with your beer, no money spent on furnishings since 1933. The best.

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Heterodox Academy

I'm not one to usually praise heterodoxy, but this is neat.
We are social scientists and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines. We have all written about a particular problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” It’s what happens when everyone in a field shares the same political orientation and certain ideas become orthodoxy. We have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

The new look for 2016

Naughty monk. You heard it here first.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Meth and prohibition

Meanwhile, families in Oregon and Mississippi now have to schedule an appointment with a doctor to get cold medicine. That likely means time off from work and a co-pay for an office visit. This would seem like a pretty significant burden on, say, a low-income family with three or four allergy-laden kids. Other cold and allergy sufferers just face increasingly difficult barriers to relief. And there have been several reports over the years of people who certainly don’t appear to be drug manufacturers getting arrested and prosecuted for mistakenly buying more than their allotted share of pseudoephedrine.
The attempt at prohibition seems to be corrupting everything around it.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Monkeying around

Very important for upper body strength, it turns out.
To understand my assertion we have to start at the very earliest stage, birth. Newborn babies have incredible hand strength; many can hold their full weight from the very first days. This is not unique to homo sapiens but is true of all primates as the baby must be able to cling to the mother while she travels. The big difference between other primates and modern parents is that we tend to treat babies as weaklings, carrying them everywhere, pushing them in strollers, and buckling them tightly into their car seats. As a result of the needless and ill-conceived over-parenting, the children’s normal physical abilities begin to atrophy.
Fascinating. I wish I had developed said upper body strength.

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