No More Pencils

Apr. 27th, 2017 21:01
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Posted by Greg Ross

school's out

School’s out for summer, Belleville, Illinois, 1974.

“There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school.” — George Bernard Shaw

“It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” — Albert Einstein

“I have not the least doubt that school developed in me nothing but what was evil and left the good untouched.” — Edvard Grieg

“I hope we still have some bright twelve-year-olds who are interested in science. We must be careful not to discourage our twelve-year-olds by making them waste the best years of their lives on preparing for examinations.” — Freeman Dyson

“Education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.” — Bertrand Russell

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” — E.M. Forster

Learning React

Apr. 27th, 2017 13:20
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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

If you want to learn how to build efficient user interfaces with React, this is your book. Authors Alex Banks and Eve Porcello show you how to create UIs with this small JavaScript library that can deftly display data changes on large-scale, data-driven websites without page reloads. Along the way, you’ll learn how to work with functional programming and the latest ECMAScript features.

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Posted by BrianKrebs

The process of buying or selling a home can be extremely stressful and complex, but imagine the stress that would boil up if — at settlement — your money was wired to scammers in another country instead of to the settlement firm or escrow company. Here’s the story about a phishing email that cost a couple their home and left them scrambling for months to recover hundreds of thousands in cash that went missing.

It was late November 2016, and Jon and Dorothy Little were all set to close on a $200,000 home in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Just prior to the closing date on Dec. 2 their realtor sent an email to the Little’s and to the law firm handling the closing, asking the settlement firm for instructions on wiring the money to an escrow account.

The fraudulent wire instructions apparently sent by the hackers via the settlement law firm.

The fraudulent wire instructions apparently sent by the hackers via the settlement law firm.

An attorney with the closing firm responded with wiring instructions as requested, attaching a document that had the law firm’s logo and some bank account information that was represented as the seller’s account number. The Little’s realtor sent the wire on Thursday morning, the day before settlement.

“We went to closing at 1 p.m. on Friday, and after we signed all the papers, we asked the lawyers if we were going to get back the extra money we had sent them, because they hadn’t be able to give us an exact amount in the wiring instructions. At that point they told us they had never gotten the money.”

After some disagreement, both legitimate parties to the transaction agreed that someone’s email had been hacked by the fraudsters, and was used to divert the wired funds to an account the criminals controlled. The hackers had forged a copy of the law firm’s letterhead, and beneath it placed their own Bank of America account information (see screen shot above).

The owner of the Bank of America account appears to have been a willing or unwitting accomplice — also know as a “money mule” — recruited through work-at-home job schemes to receive and forward funds stolen from hacked business accounts. In this case, the money mule wired all but 10 percent of the money (a typical money mule commission) to an account at TD Bank.

Fortunately for the Littles, the FBI succeeded in having the resulting $180,000 wire transfer frozen once it hit the TD Bank account. However, efforts to recover the stolen funds were stymied immediately when the Littles’ credit union refused to give Bank of America a so-called “hold harmless” agreement that the bigger bank wanted as a legal guarantee before agreeing to help.

Charisse Castagnoli, an adjunct professor of law at the John Marshall Law School, said banks have a fiduciary duty to their customers to honor their requests in good faith, and as such they tend to be very nervous legally about colluding with another bank to reverse payment instructions by one of their own customers. The “hold harmless” agreement is usually sought by the bank which received a fraudulent wire transfer, Castagnoli said, and it requires the responding bank to assume any and all liability for costs that the requesting bank may later incur should the owner of account which received the fraudulent wire decide to dispute the payment reversal.

“When it comes to wire fraud cases the banks have to move very quickly because once the wires make it outside the U.S. to foreign banks, the money is usually as good as gone,” Castagnoli said. “The receiver or transferee usually insists on a hold harmless agreement because they’re moving the money on behalf of their own account holder, kind of going against their own client which is a big ‘no-no’ when you’re a fiduciary.”

But in this case, the credit union in which the Littles had invested virtually all of their money for more than 40 years decided it could not in good faith provide that hold harmless agreement, because doing so would stipulate that the credit union affirms the victim (the Littles) hadn’t willingly and knowing initiated the wire, when in fact they had.

“I talked to the wire dept multiple times,” Mr. Little said of the folks at his financial institution, Atlanta, Ga.-based Delta Community Credit Union (DCCU). “They finally put me through to the vice president of loss prevention at the credit union. I’m not sure they even believed all that was going on. They finally came back and told me they couldn’t do it. Their rules would not allow them to send a hold harmless letter because I had asked them to do something and they had done it. They had a big meeting last week with apparently the CEO of the credit union and several other people. Then they called me on Monday again and told me they would not could not do it.”

The Littles had to cancel the contract on the house they were prepared to occupy in December. Most of their cash was tied up in this account that the banks were haggling over, and so they opted to get a heavily mortgaged small townhome instead, with the intention of paying off the mortgage when their stolen funds are returned.

“We canceled the contract on the house because the sellers really needed to sell it,” Jon Little said.

The DCCU has yet to respond to my requests for comment. But less than a day after KrebsOnSecurity reached out to the credit union for comment about the Littles’ story, the bank informed the Littles that the other bank would soon have its hold harmless letter — freeing up their $180,000 after more than four months in legal limbo.

The Littles’ story has a fairly happy ending, however most of the other few dozens stories previously featured on this blog about wayward mortgage, escrow and payroll payments wound up with the victim losing six figures at least.

One of the more recent advertisers on this blog — Ninjio — specializes in developing custom, “gamified” security awareness training videos for clients. “The Homeless Homebuyer,” one of the videos Ninjio produced for a government client seems appropriate here: It features an animated FBI agent breaking the bad news to some would-be homeowners that their money is gone and so are their dreams of a new home — all because everyone blindly trusted unsecured email for what is essentially a high-risk cash transaction.

I like the video because its message is fairly stark and real: You could get screwed if you don’t take this seriously and proceed carefully, because once the money’s gone it usually stays gone. Check it out here:

So here’s what you need to know if you or anyone you know, love or even like are about to buy or sell a home: Never wire money based on the say-so of one party to the transaction made via email. You simply don’t know if their account is hacked, so from a self-preservation standpoint it’s best to assume it is.

Agree in advance who will contact whom — preferably by phone — on settlement day to receive the wiring details, and who will manage the wiring process. Never trust bank account details and payment instructions sent via email. Always double or even triple check any instructions for wiring money at settlement. Confirm all wiring instructions in person if possible, or else over the phone.

By the way, these same precautions can help make organizations less susceptible to CEO fraud schemes, email scams in which the attacker spoofs the boss and tricks an employee at the organization into wiring funds to the fraudster.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been keeping a running tally of the financial devastation visited on companies via CEO fraud scams. In June 2016, the FBI estimated that crooks had stolen nearly $3.1 billion from more than 22,000 victims of these wire fraud schemes.

Castagnoli said many credit unions and small banks don’t have the legal staff with the clearance to make calls on whether to issue a hold harmless agreement, and so they usually try to punt on that when requested. Were she in The Littles’ position, Castagnoli said she would have called the head of the credit union and demanded assistance.

“If the head of the bank wouldn’t do it, I’d call my congressperson or a state banking regulator,” she said.

If you’re selling or buying the home yourself and somehow also in charge of wiring money, consider using a Live CD approach (all of these “live” Linux distributions will just as happily run on USB-based flash drives). I have long recommend Live Linux usage as a smart option for small businesses to avoid paying dearly when a Windows banking trojan snarfs their business banking credentials.

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Posted by Tyler Cowen

I refer you to the excellent post by A Fine Theorem on David Donaldson, here is one excerpt:

Donaldson’s CV is a testament to how difficult this style of work is. He spent eight years at LSE before getting his PhD, and published only one paper in a peer reviewed journal in the 13 years following the start of his graduate work. “Railroads of the Raj” has been forthcoming at the AER for literally half a decade, despite the fact that this work is the core of what got Donaldson a junior position at MIT and a tenured position at Stanford. Is it any wonder that so few young economists want to pursue a style of research that is so challenging and so difficult to publish? Let us hope that Donaldson’s award encourages more of us to fully exploit both the incredible data we all now have access to, but also the beautiful body of theory that induces deep insights from that data.

The post is superb, yet A Fine Theorem remains underrated.

The post A Clark Award for economic history appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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Posted by Chrome Blog

In January, we began our quest to improve how Chrome communicates the connection security of HTTP pages. Chrome now marks HTTP pages as “Not secure” if they have password or credit card fields. Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the “Not secure” warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.

Treatment of HTTP pages in Chrome 62

Our plan to label HTTP sites as non-secure is taking place in gradual steps, based on increasingly broad criteria. Since the change in Chrome 56, there has been a 23% reduction in the fraction of navigations to HTTP pages with password or credit card forms on desktop, and we’re ready to take the next steps.

Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the “Not secure” warning when users type data into HTTP sites.
Treatment of HTTP pages with user-entered data in Chrome 62

When users browse Chrome with Incognito mode, they likely have increased expectations of privacy. However, HTTP browsing is not private to others on the network, so in version 62 Chrome will also warn users when visiting an HTTP page in Incognito mode.

Eventually, we plan to show the “Not secure” warning for all HTTP pages, even outside Incognito mode. We will publish updates as we approach future releases, but don’t wait to get started moving to HTTPS! HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. Check out our set-up guides to get started.

Posted by Emily Schechter, Chrome Security Team
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Regular readers of this blog know about philosopher Nick Bostrom’s idea that it is far more likely we are simulations created by an advanced species than we are likely to be the original species itself. The reasoning here is that every sufficiently-advanced species will create multiple simulations in which the simulated creatures believe they are real. So the odds are high that we are one of the many simulations, not the original species that created them.

But how could you tell?

I have a hypothesis. There should be a difference in how a real species and a simulated species views its own history. The real species would have a real history with full details. The simulations would have something closer to history on demand. And by that, I mean the history only comes into existence when current circumstances require that history. If we are software simulations, the simulator presumably has resource constraints. That means the simulation would not create every part of the universe just in case it is needed; it would create what it needed on demand. For example, a simulated universe would not contain details about undiscovered planets. Those details would be rendered by the simulation at the time of discovery. 

To put this in simpler terms, if we are real, the past influences what we do in the present. But if we are simulations, what we do in the present could be creating the past. 

For example, here’s an article describing how quantum physicists have determined that the present creates the past as needed. Freaky, right?

If we are simulations, we should expect to see two additional qualities in the universe as partial confirmation:

1. We should expect that we can’t travel past the boundaries of the simulation.

2. We wouldn’t be able to observe the basic building blocks of our reality.

Sure enough, we meet both criteria.

We can’t travel beyond the edge of the universe without exceeding the speed of light, which is theoretically impossible. That’s what you would expect in a simulation. You would have some sort of rule of physics to keep the simulated people from traveling beyond the edges. Here I’m assuming the universe is expanding at the same rate as the light that is traveling in all directions, so we can never catch up to it.

The hypothetical creators of our simulation would also try to prevent us from discovering that we are not made of anything real. And sure enough, when science looks at our basic building blocks at the quantum level, all we have is probability and strangeness. 

I have viewed the world as having backwards causation (the present creates the past) since I was a young man. In my worldview, an envelope you receive in the mail doesn’t have definite contents until it is observed. Up until the moment someone sees the contents, the envelope can contain anything that known history has not yet ruled out. This model of the world explains my observations every bit as well as the idea that the past determines my future. 

In a simulated reality, we would expect to see lots of confirmation bias and lots of cognitive dissonance. Do you know why?

It keeps the programming simple for the author of our reality.

If we simulations saw our personal experiences accurately, the author of the simulation would have to make your view of history and mine fit together and be consistent on every variable. That would be massively complicated with billions of simulated humans doing things that create their histories on the fly. The solution to that complexity is to allow the simulated humans to hallucinate that whatever they observe, coincidentally fits both their histories and their worldviews. That way the simulation doesn’t need to create accurate histories for all the players. We can imagine our own histories as being accurate until events in the present make that impossible. Then, and only then, does the simulation decide on a definite past. 

Consider the news this week that a recent discovery suggests humans were in North America 100,000 years earlier than scientists believed. That finding is not yet confirmed, but it still works to make my point. Given that this new finding is not yet confirmed, our human history does not need to be rewritten by the simulation. But if new discoveries confirm that humans were in North America that early, our “real” history comes into existence at the moment our observations make it impossible for any other history to be true. Until then, both histories (and more) exist as probabilities, nothing more.

I assume I got some (or all) of the science wrong in this blog post. The only point I want to defend is the idea that a simulated universe would probably need to create its history based on current events, whereas a “real” universe would have an objective history that never changes.

You might enjoy reading my book because the present will cause you to do it in the past.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

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Posted by the_surf_dude

укоротил строптивых соседей. усадил в круг с более дружелюбными соседями, притащил соседа протестанского попа. устроил перформанс, тони точно заработал, сказал всё что они хотели слышать. по собственнной инициативе подписали мир на более выгодных условиях чем расчитывал. не просто long term sustainable solution/compromise, но они ещё и будут на меня немножечко шить

миру мир, войны не нужно, вот девиз отряда дружба
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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

In this practical Learning Path, we'll detail the process of dealing with architectural constraints through a daily assessment process, and look at the skills and techniques required.

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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

In this Learning Path, you'll learn how to steer Agile architecture through a set of concrete case studies. Each case study exhibits a distinct problem, but all of them can be dealt with in a uniform way.

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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Tools are essential for software development. And these tools have to be customizable. In this Learning Path, we'll take a look at how analysis tools are made and what they're made of. We'll pay close attention to visualization techniques and tools and see how they can make a difference when reasoning about Agile architecture.

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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

The Jenkins community defines a Jenkins "project" as a user configured description of the work that Jenkins should perform; and a "build" as a single execution of a project. This course provides a hands-on, step-by-step opportunity to create a very basic Jenkins project and use key components of the Jenkins server toolset to perform a build in support of that project.

Along the way, you will learn to use the Jenkins automation server to establish builds with parameters, advanced triggers, SCM integration, multiple build steps, artifacts, and several other specialized functions. By the end of the course, you'll know how to customize and automate project builds to meet the specialized needs for building application source code as part of an automated deployment pipeline.

  • Discover the difference between a Jenkins project and a Jenkins build
  • Gain experience integrating a project with the Git source code repository
  • Learn how to schedule builds, conduct remote builds, and trigger builds
  • Understand how to discard old builds and disable projects
  • Explore ways to control project security, control build steps, and perform post-build actions
Kevin Bowersox leads development teams that build Java web applications for the federal government. As a Java expert, Kevin shares his 17 years of experience to help coders understand and enjoy the benefits of automating software development practices. He holds a BA in Information Sciences and Technology from Penn State; and is the author of multiple O'Reilly titles on topics such as Spring Framework, Hibernate, Apache Maven, and Jenkins.

Introduction to C++ Templates

Apr. 27th, 2017 03:21
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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Templates are a fundamental feature of modern C++ programming. Designed for the beginner to intermediate level C++ programmer, this course explains why templates are important and how to use them. Expert programmer, Julian Templeman, starts with a description of the concept behind templates and shows you how they solve the problem of writing functions and classes that differ only in their parameter types.

He then demonstrates how you use template functions to create functions that will work with a variety of parameter types and how to use them in code. Then, he shows you how to create and use template classes, parameterized types that are commonly used for containers such as vector and list. The course finishes off with a discussion of how the compiler processes templates and what this means in terms of how code is compiled and linked.

  • Explore the importance and role of templates in C++ programming
  • Understand how to create and use function and class templates
  • Gain the ability to create highly efficient type-safe code
  • Master the techniques required for effective C++11 and C++14 programming
Julian Templeman runs the London UK based consulting company Templeman Consulting. He has worked in software development for 40 years, written code in over 20 languages, and has worked with C++ for over 20 years. A professional consultant, trainer, and writer, Julian has authored multiple programming books and videos, including the O'Reilly title "Practical Scala for Java Developers".

React Native Recipes - Volume 2

Apr. 27th, 2017 03:21
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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Take your React Native application development to the next leve by leveraging the native layer and getting our app into production

About This Video

  • Build rich and engaging user experiences in React Native while maintaining peak application performance
  • Leverage the best of iOS and Android for React Native development while maximizing code reuse and cohesion
  • Implement architecture patterns in your React Native application to support efficient data access, routing, and testing

In Detail

React has taken the web development world by storm, and it is only natural that its unique architecture and third-party support ecosystem should be applied to native application development. Using JavaScript, you can build a truly native application that renders native UI components and accesses native device functionality. This video will take you from the basics of React Native development all the way through to some more advanced components.

This video covers topics in React Native ranging from adding basic UI components to successfully deploying for multiple target platforms. The video follows a top-down approach beginning with building rich user interfaces. These UIs will be created with both built-in and custom components that you will create, style, and animate. You will then learn about different strategies for working with data, including leveraging the popular Redux library and optimizing the performance of the application. Then, you will step further into exposing native device functionality. Finally, we will discuss how to put your application into production and maintain its reliability.

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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Create reliable, robust, and efficient Android apps with industry-standard design patterns

About This Video

  • Create efficient object interaction patterns for faster and more efficient Android development
  • Get into efficient and fast app development and start making money from your Android apps
  • Implement industry-standard design patterns and best practices to reduce your app development time drastically

In Detail

Are you an Android developer with some experience under your belt? Are you wondering how the experts create efficient and good-looking apps? Then your wait will end with this video! We will teach you about different Android development patterns that will enable you to write clean code and make your app stand out from the crowd.

The video starts by introducing the Android development environment and exploring the support libraries. You will gradually explore the different design and layout patterns and get to know the best practices of how to use them together. You’ll then develop an application that will help you grasp activities, services, and broadcasts and their roles in Android development.

Moving on, you will add user-detecting classes and APIs such as gesture detection touch screen listeners and sensors to your app. You will also learn to adapt your app to run on tablets and other devices and platforms, including Android Wear, auto, and TV. Finally, you will see how to connect your app to social media.

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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Ward off traditional security permissions and effectively secure your Linux systems with SELinux

About This Video

  • Leverage SELinux to improve the secure state of your Linux system
  • A clear approach to adopting SELinux within your organization
  • Essential skills and techniques to help further your system administration career

In Detail

Do you have the crucial job of protecting your private and company systems from malicious attacks and undefined application behavior? Are you looking to secure your Linux systems with improved access controls? Look no further, intrepid administrator! This course will show you how to enhance your system's secure state across Linux distributions, helping you keep application vulnerabilities at bay. This video course covers the core SELinux concepts and shows you how to leverage SELinux to improve the protection measures of a Linux system. You will learn the SELinux fundamentals and all of SELinux's configuration handles including conditional policies, constraints, policy types, and audit capabilities. These topics are paired with genuine examples of situations and issues you will probably come across as an administrator.

Delphi Solutions - Part 2

Apr. 27th, 2017 03:21
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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Over 30 examples to help you master the power of Delphi for cross-platform and mobile development on multiple platforms

About This Video

  • Get to grips with Delphi to build and deploy various cross-platform applications
  • Design, develop, and deploy real-world applications by implementing a single source codebase
  • This swift guide will increase your productivity in developing applications with Delphi

In Detail

Delphi is a cross-platform Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that supports rapid application development for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, Google Android, and Apple iOS. It helps you to concentrate on the real business and save yourself the pain of wandering amid GUI widget details or having to tackle inter-platform incompatibilities.

This course will build on from Part 1, covering topics such as multithreading, using the parallel programming library, and putting Delphi on a server. We’ll also take a look at the new feature of the WebBroker Apache modules and then ride the mobile revolution with FireMonkey. By the end of the course, you will be able to develop and deploy cross-platform applications using Delphi.

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Posted by O'Reilly Media, Inc.

How can you steer architecture towards a cohesive result in projects developed using Agile methodology? This Learning Path answers that question and others, as it introduces the concept of steering Agile architecture.

hot dog pic

Apr. 27th, 2017 00:00
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Sexy ass pic you send in a text message.

Girrrrrl you look too fresh you need to send your man a hot dog pic.

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Posted by Tyler Cowen

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, and here is one part of my argument:

This argument for a corporate tax cut — “let’s borrow more now while rates are relatively low” — is remarkably like the argument that Keynesians have been using for more government infrastructure spending for years. The main difference is that here the spending would be done by private corporations rather than the federal government. You may or may not believe the private expenditures will be more socially valuable than the government expenditures, but if you think we can afford one kind of stimulus we probably can afford the other. And as I said, the private rate of return on investment probably is higher than the government’s borrowing rate, even if you think that government spending would yield higher returns yet.

Of course that argument does not require unemployed resources.  On the micro side, I find it amusing when people suggest that the rate of return on government infrastructure is high, but that corporations have nothing better to do than to sit on their cash.  It is hard to have it both ways!  Imagine arguing that biomedical R&D through the NIH yields high returns, but that pharma investment to commercialize the resulting drugs or devices does not.  National parks aside, most government investment is in inputs, and thus for it to have a high marginal rate of return someone on the output side has to have a high marginal rate of return as well.

Here is another part of my argument:

The pessimist might wonder whether companies would take their windfall and invest it at all. Many companies might simply hold the gain in money management accounts. In this scenario, the tax plan probably won’t be worth passing, as American companies would have nothing useful to do with the free resources, even when given a nudge to invest. That should induce a fairly panicky response, including radical deregulation of business and fiscal austerity on entitlements, but I don’t see critics of the tax plan following up on this view consistently.

There is much more at the link, and do note my rather significant caveats on the plan.  And here is Kevin Williamson on the plan.

The post What about Trump’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

What I’ve been reading

Apr. 27th, 2017 04:19
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Posted by Tyler Cowen

1. Édouard Louis, The End of Eddy.  LitHub wrote: “Even in the wake of Knausgaard and Ferrante it is hard to find a literary phenomenon that has swept Europe quite like the autobiographical project of Édouard Louis.”  I don’t know that I enjoyed this book very much, but it was an effective fictional experience.  Most of all it scared me that such a tale of poverty and abuse could be so popular in Europe these days.  Recommended, but in a sobering way; I would rather this had been a bestseller in 1937.

2. Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs.  A novel about the consequences of a Delhi terrorist bombing that is both deep and compelling to read, full of surprises as well.  Here is a useful NYT review.

3. Edward T. O’Donnell, Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age.  This focuses more on George’s connection to social and labor movements, and less on George as an economist or land theorist, than I would have liked.  Still, it is an information-rich narrative that most of all brings the times and movements surrounding George to life.

4. Andrew Marr, We British: The Poetry of a People.  A good introduction to its topic, most of all for the mid-twentieth century, with plenty of poems reproduced.  Here is a Louis MacNeice poem, Snow:

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was

Spawning snow and pink roses against it

Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:

World is suddener than we fancy it.


World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion

A tangerine and spit the pips and feel

The drunkenness of things being various


And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world

Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes —

On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of your hands —

There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

The post What I’ve been reading appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

A Moment

Apr. 27th, 2017 00:41
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Posted by Greg Ross

During the burning of Washington in the War of 1812, when a British expeditionary force leveled a cannon at the Patent Office, superintendent William Thornton “put himself before the gun, and in a frenzy of excitement exclaimed: ‘Are you Englishmen or only Goths and Vandals? This is the Patent Office, a depository of the ingenuity of the American nation, in which the whole civilized world is interested. Would you destroy it? If so, fire away, and let the charge pass through my body.'”

“The effect is said to have been magical upon the soldiers, and to have saved the Patent Office from destruction. … When the smoke cleared from the dreadful attack, the Patent Office was the only Government building … left untouched.”

(From R. Beresford’s Brief History of the United States Patent Office From Its Foundation, 1886.)

Boys’ Club

Apr. 26th, 2017 20:40
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

No women are allowed on Greece’s Mount Athos, the site of 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, because they would hinder the monks’ progress toward spiritual enlightenment. Mary alone represents her sex on the mountain.

The ban has been in place since an imperial decree in 1046, with a few colorful exceptions:

  • In the 1300s a Serbian emperor brought his wife to the peninsula to protect her from the plague. She was borne in a hand carriage the whole time, her feet never touching the ground.
  • French writer Maryse Choisy snuck in in the 1920s, disguised as a sailor. She published her adventure under the title Un mois chez les hommes (“A Month With Men”).
  • In 1953 Ohio Fulbright Program teacher Cora Miller landed briefly with two other women, creating a furor.
  • In 2008, five Moldovan migrants arrived by way of Turkey; four were women. The monks forgave them.

The rule extends even to hens, cows, nanny-goats, and sows, which means that dairy products and eggs have to be brought in from outside. Female cats, insects, and songbirds are admitted.

In 2003 the European Parliament passed a resolution saying the ban violated “the universally recognised principle of gender equality,” but it remains in place — even female sightseers must stay at least 500 meters offshore.


Apr. 27th, 2017 01:02
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I sent a half-finished song to Aimee Mann and she made it into this (link in bio). I'm fortunate to know such talented people.

Facts about trade deficits

Apr. 26th, 2017 12:17
[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

A series of research studies identifies the fundamental factors behind trade imbalances (Chinn and Prasad 2003 (link is external); Gruber and Kamin 2008 (link is external); Chinn, Eichengreen, and Ito 2011 (link is external); Gagnon 2012; IMF 2012 (link is external); Gagnon 2013; Bayoumi, Gagnon, and Saborowski 2015 (link is external); and Gagnon et al. 2017 (link is external)).2 The most important factors include fiscal policy, intervention in currency markets, trend economic growth rates, per capita income levels, and prospective population aging. Barriers on financial flows have an important interaction with these factors; when financial markets are open, these factors generally have a larger effect on trade imbalances. Many studies focused on long-term factors, but business cycles may also be an important temporary factor. None of the studies found any role for trade barriers.

Figures 1 and 2 show little apparent correlation between average tariff rates or overall trade barriers and trade balances. If anything, higher tariffs are associated with lower trade balances (larger deficits). Including tariffs in regression analysis that controls for other factors yields an effect that is close to zero.

That is from Joe Gagnon, via Mark Thoma.  There are some useful pictures at the link.

The post Facts about trade deficits appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Battle Hymn

Apr. 26th, 2017 08:00
[syndicated profile] permanentstyle_feed

Posted by Simon Crompton

This is going to sound rather cheesy.

Forgive me.

I believe in Permanent Style.

I believe in the value of investing in products made to last.

And I believe in style that lasts decades, even centuries. (Though maybe not forever).

I believe in the people that make the products that are made to last. Who work hard and long, for years and years, to become good enough to deserve to make them.

I believe in the beauty of dressing elegantly. Of dressing simply but intelligently.

Of looking like you are well dressed. And nothing more.

Fashions come and go.

Lately, there have been more people wearing luxury sweatpants, and sportswear to dinner. There has been talk of the cycle turning again.

I don't think these values of style and craft are going anywhere.

There may have been a fashion for suits, tie clips and handkerchiefs in recent years, and we (us; you; the many other blogs, fans and enthusiasts, who are much, much bigger than Permanent Style) may have benefited from it.

But we're still here. Just with fewer tie clips.

The media is still awful, just as it was 10 years when I began writing.

It may even be worse.

Magazines are nothing more than a parade of products, interspersed with unoriginal, sycophantic writing.

Social media is awash with people that define themselves by nothing more than a number, and then sell that number for another number.

But there are good signs.

Identikit department stories are struggling; independent men's stores are opening all over the world.

I believe we (mostly you) have had a hand in this.

Those who make a deliberate effort to know more, to buy better, and to tell others.

Who value a shoe more when it has been worn, and polished, and scratched, and polished, than when it came home in a shiny bag.

Who enjoy (note: enjoy, not fetishise) the roll of a perfect shirt collar.

I'm just as passionate as I was 10 years ago. (And try very hard not to take any of it for granted.)

Passionate about the unique, hand-wrought beauty of a bespoke jacket.

About the subtle sumptuousness of grey flannel, and calf leather, and white linen, and worn denim, and thick cashmere, and chalky printed silk.

I believe in it all.

Photography: Andy Barnham, from our book The Finest Menswear in the World

Photos taken from ateliers of (top to bottom): Zilli, Cifonelli, Anderson & Sheppard, Talarico, Breanish Tweed,Anderson & Sheppard, Drake's, Loro Piana, Cleverley


Apr. 26th, 2017 00:00
[syndicated profile] urban_feed

The opposite of fucking ones self. To unfuckyourself, you're fixing a fuck up or avoiding the fuck up altogether.

11 year old mother: What's a condom?
FLuffee: It's what you could have used to unfuckyourself. Yes, Unfuckyourself is indeed a word."

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

 Oeindrila Dube and S.P. Harish have a new NBER working paper called “Queens”:

Are states led by women less prone to conflict than states led by men? We answer this question by examining the effect of female rule on war among European polities over the 15th-20th centuries. We utilize gender of the first born and presence of a female sibling among previous monarchs as instruments for queenly rule. We find that polities led by queens were more likely to engage in war than polities led by kings. Moreover, the tendency of queens to engage as aggressors varied by marital status. Among unmarried monarchs, queens were more likely to be attacked than kings. Among married monarchs, queens were more likely to participate as attackers than kings, and, more likely to fight alongside allies. These results are consistent with an account in which marriages strengthened queenly reigns because married queens were more likely to secure alliances and enlist their spouses to help them rule. Married kings, in contrast, were less inclined to utilize a similar division of labor. These asymmetries, which reflected prevailing gender norms, ultimately enabled queens to pursue more aggressive war policies.

Why would the kings have been less likely to marry for purposes of war?  Is it because they actually were entranced with love, whereas queens are more practical?

The post Queens pursued more aggressive war policies appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

That is the title of a new paper by Christopher McConnell, Yotam Margalit, and Neil Malhotra.  The main (and sad) point is that even in non-political settings we trust other people less if they have different political views than ours:

With growing affective polarization in the United States, partisanship is increasingly an impediment to cooperation in political settings. But does partisanship also affect behavior in non-political settings? We show evidence that it does, demonstrating its effect on economic outcomes across a range of experiments in real-world environments. A field experiment in an online labor market indicates that workers request systematically lower reservation wages when the employer shares their political stance, reflecting a preference to work for co-partisans. We conduct two field experiments with consumers, and find a preference for dealing with co-partisans, especially among those with strong partisan attachments. Finally, via a population-based, incentivized survey experiment, we find that the influence of political considerations on economic choices extends also to weaker partisans. Whereas earlier studies show the political consequences of polarization in American politics, our findings suggest that partisanship spills over beyond the political, shaping cooperation in everyday economic behavior.

For the pointer I thank Daniel Klein.

The post The Economic Consequences of Partisanship in a Polarized Era appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

“Holes” and Factors

Apr. 26th, 2017 01:15
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

Here are the proper prime divisors of the first nine natural numbers (a proper prime divisor is a prime different from n that divides n evenly):

1: (none)
2: (none)
3: (none)
4: 2 × 2
5: (none)
6: 2 × 3
7: (none)
8: 2 × 2 × 2
9: 3 × 3

So, if we include repeated instances of a given factor:

  • 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 have 0 proper prime divisors
  • 4, 6, and 9 have 2 proper prime divisors
  • 8 has 3 proper prime divisors

Mathematicians Ana Luzón and Manuel A. Morón of Universidad Politecnica de Madrid point out a coincidence: The numerals in each of these groups have the same basic shape — within each group it’s possible to transform one numeral into another by bending, shrinking, and expanding. So, for example, it’s possible to bend a numeral 1 made of clay into a 2 or a 7, but not into a 9 — we’re not allowed to poke a new hole in the clay or to affix one part of it to another.

Luzón and Morón write that if two of these nine numerals have the same number of proper prime divisors, then those two will “cut a sheet in the same number of pieces if you write them down with a scalpel.” And if the scalpel doesn’t cut the sheet into multiple pieces, then the number you’re writing is prime (except for 1).

Note: This works only if the numeral 4 is “closed” at the top, not open. So this post will make sense if you’re reading it on Futility Closet (which uses the “closed” font Georgia), but possibly not if you’re reading it in a different font elsewhere. Maybe this tells us how 4 “ought” to be written!

(Ana Luzón and Manuel A. Morón, “4 or 4? Mathematics or Accident?” Mathematics Magazine 75:4 [October 2002], 274.)


Apr. 26th, 2017 07:30
[syndicated profile] johnroderick_feed
Those fun, carefree lyrics from that beloved children's classic! Maybe one day your dreams will come true, kids, IN A FANTASYLAND.

The Unicorns of Iceland

Apr. 25th, 2017 20:59
[syndicated profile] jwz_blog_feed

Posted by jwz

I am really loving what Google Translate does to this article:

Furthroat with a coarse angle:

Older farmers in the countryside have made a trip to Erla and Bjarni to look strangely on the beast with their blinky eyes.

"This furious bump has been named Einhyrningur. We saw what was happening in the sheepfold in the early spring when he came into the world, the horns were already gathered and only at the top. They have grown then straight up from the head of the ram, so now he looks like a monkey. We were really sorry for him when he was in search of retirement shortly before Christmas. As a result, he lived for a longer life, but most of the lamb shrubs that came into the world at the same time last spring, they went to a slaughterhouse this autumn afterwards, "says Erla Þórey Ólafsdóttir, a farmer in Hraunkot in Landbrot, but in the cabins Her and Bjarni Bjarnason, her husband, find the fantasy creature Einhyrning.

Although Unicorn is so pleasant, unusual as it actually shows, it does not make it a living.

"He can not live unless next fall, the gray. He is not a breeding breed, it is clear, he is mostly unclean and does not thrive well enough, he likes to be bad. But he is getting his extra summer now, "says Erla, who has not dug up unhappy stories to read for her children on the occasion of the furious quake on the farm.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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