Live from Evans Hall: Back from my east coast swing to find books waiting for me:
Must-Read: David Smith: Why has R, despite quirks, been so successful?: "Bow Cowgill said, 'The best thing about R is that it was written by statisticians...
The worst thing about R is that it was written by statisticians.
R is undeniably quirky... and yet it has attracted a huge following for a domain-specific language, with more than two million users wordwide. So why has R become so successful, despite being outside the mainstream of programming languages? John Cook adeptly tackles that question in a 2013 lecture, 'The R Language: The Good The Bad And The Ugly'.... To understand a domain-specific language, you have to understand the domain, and statistical data analysis is a very different domain than systems programming.
Miriam Burstein: Cited by: "Dad the Emeritus Historian of Graeco-Roman Egypt...
...sent me to Donald Kagan's Jefferson Lecture. Despite Kagan's warnings against the dangers of over-generalization, his critique of contemporary historiography was so non-specific--apparently, we're still stuck in 80s crusades against DWM--that I had a hard time finding the 'there' there. I've already had an earful about this lecture from a classicist's perspective, and I'll leave his call for history as a 'sound base for moral judgments' to other historians.
Live from the Ferry Building: Vineet Bhagwat**: Is the San Francisco Housing Market Efficient? (2006): "Under the direction of: Professor Jonathan Levin...
David Eckstein: The Precession of the Perihelion of Mercury: "The difference... in the case of Mercury...
...was so big that it demanded an explanation.... Einstein was overjoyed when he calculated near the end of 1915 that his new theory predicted an addition of just 43 arc-seconds per century to the precession of the perihelion of Mercury! He derived the following formula:
where Δφ is the extra rotation per orbit in radians; RS is the Schwarzschild radius of the sun; a is the length of the semi-major axis of the orbit; and ε is the eccentricity of the ellipse.
Suppose that we have a box: kind of box that might contain, for example, a cat. Suppose that no energy is flowing into or out of the box. And suppose we them ask: what is going on inside the box?
Sean Carroll will answer, in accord with all experimental evidence and of the most sophisticated quantum mechanical thinking, that nothing is going on inside the box:
The possible measurement outcomes... spinning clockwise or counterclockwise... only become “real”... when the quantum system interacts [outside] with a large number of degrees of freedom, becomes entangled with them, and decoherence occurs.... [But] what dynamic processes are occurring while the wave function isn’t changing at all? Your first guess here--nothing at all “happens” inside a wave function that doesn’t evolve with time--is completely correct....
Surprisingly, this claim--“nothing is happening if the quantum state isn’t changing with time”--manages to be controversial!
I mean, it was completed only seven years ago. And now the wall between it and College Avenue and the field have been demolished? And the field has been removed? Why?
How did I get started weblogging?
In my memory, I got started weblogging because one afternoon sometime in the 1990s that convinced me that weblogging was likely to become a key part of the forthcoming ecology of intellectual influence.
Who taught in Wheeler Auditorium this spring?
UNDERGRAD. BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION 10 P 001 LEC
Course Title: Principles of Business
Location: MWF 9-10A, WHEELER AUD
Instructor: BRIGINSHAW, J (VAP Accounting)
I must say, if Terry Eagleton wants to make the case and elicit sympathy for the Oxford of his youth as it exists in his imagination, this is not at all the way to go about it:
...flanked by two burly young minders... who for all I knew were carrying Kalashnikovs under their jackets.... The president paused to permit me a few words of fulsome praise. I remarked instead that there seemed to be no critical studies of any kind on his campus. He looked at me bemusedly, as though I had asked him how many Ph.D.’s in pole dancing they awarded each year, and replied rather stiffly 'Your comment will be noted.' He then took a small piece of cutting-edge technology out of his pocket, flicked it open and spoke a few curt words of Korean into it, probably 'Kill him'....
John Maynard Keynes (1924): Obituary for Alfred Marshall: "ALFRED MARSHALL was born at Clapham on July 26, 1842...
...the son of William Marshall, a cashier in the Bank of England, by his marriage with Rebecca Oliver. The Marshalls were a clerical family of the West, sprung from William Marshall, incumbent of Saltash, Cornwall, at the end of the seventeenth century. Alfred was the great-great-grandson of the Reverend William Marshall, the half-legendary herculean parson of Devonshire, who, by twisting horseshoes with his hands, frightened local blacksmiths into fearing that they blew their bellows for the devil. His great-grandfather was the Reverend John Marshall, Headmaster of Exeter Grammar School, who married Mary Hawtrey, daughter of the Reverend Charles Hawtrey, Sub-Dean and Canon of Exeter, and aunt of the Provost of Eton.
Lord, Enlighten Thou Our Enemies: Let us start with John Stuart Mill's prayer:
'Lord, enlighten thou our enemies,' prayed nineteenth-century British economist and moral philosopher John Stuarrt MIll: http://olldownload.libertyfund.org/Texts/MillJS0172/Works/Vol10/PDFs/Mill_1277.pdf:
Sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions, and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers: we are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom; their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength...
Alma Mater Blogging: Greg Mankiw's desire to move Harvard to someplace better adapted to human life than Massachusetts was triggered by:
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Time for Harvard to Move?: The Wall Street Journal reports one of the most pernicious ideas I have heard of late:
Massachusetts legislators, demonstrating a growing resentment against the wealth of elite universities in tight economic times, are studying a plan to levy a 2.5% annual tax on the portion of college endowments that exceed $1 billion. The effort takes aim at one of the primary economic engines of the state...
Live from Century City: Josh Barro says: Take panel questions via direct message. He is correct. Requiring questions to be less than 140 characters is a major technological innovation!
Live from Peet’s Coffee: It is official: after the last winter in Kansas City, I need a quad latte to be my best self for breakfast meetings.
Is it time for Rehab?
Externalities can be subtle…
Let us move across the bay and 60 miles south from Avicenna to the town of Tall Stick, home of Crony Capitalism University…
The 10,000 students at CCU do two things with their disposable incomes of $5,000/year each:
The utility of each student is:
U = (number of pizzas) + 500(if renting BMW) - (1/20)(number of other students renting BMWs)
This utility function thus has both envy and spite…
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at U.C. Berkeley, and was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy of the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration. He is completing “Slouching Towards Utopia?”, an overly-long economic history of the world in the twentieth century.
He is best known for “Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets” (JPE, 1989), “Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy” (BPEA, 2012), “Did JP Morgan’s Men Add Value?” (book chapter, 1991), “The Survival of Noise Traders in Financial Markets” (JF, 1991), “America’s Peacetime Inflation: the 1970s” (book chapter, 1997), “Is Increased Price Flexibility Stabilizing?” (AER, 1986), “Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow’s Economy” (First Monday, 2000), “Meltdown to Moral Hazard: the International Monetary and Financial Policies of the Clinton Administration” (book chapter, 2001), “Have Productivity Levels Converged? Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare in the Very Long Run” (AER, 1989), and “Should We Fear Deflation?” (BPEA, 1989).
Lunchtime Must-Read: Ah. But, Mark, what real-world questions were DSGE models built to answer? I cannot think of any...
...IS-LM models were built to answer exactly the kinds of questions we encountered during the Great Recession and... provided good answers.... DSGE models were built to address other issues, and it's not surprising they didn't do very well when they were pushed to address questions they weren't designed to answer...
Live from La Farine: Mother Nature Is Scaring Me:
I must say: Mother Nature giving Berkeley the climate of Malibu this winter has made it extremely pleasant to be here--especially when one thinks that one might be in Boston.
But it does make me raise my estimate of the disruptions to be caused even during my lifetime by global warming.
I am not really scared yet: but give me another two drought years in a row, and I will be...
To Be Kept Updated:
Rescued from Linkrot:
Someday I will remember that walking from the BART to the Fairmont/Ritz-Carlton/University Club will not repeat NOT make me happy...
So how cheap does this make all of the hardware and software needed for all the econometrics and dynamic modeling I might ever ask an undergraduate to do in a class?
Ken Kleiman: RStudio in the Cloud, for Dummies:
You can have your own cloud computing version of R, complete with RStudio. Why should you? It's cool! Plus, there's a lot more power out there than you can easily get on your own hardware. And, it's R in a web page. Run it from your tablet. Run it from work, even if you're not supposed to install software. Run it from your boyfriend's laptop while he's on a beer run.... Louis Alsett... doctoral work at Trinity College, University of Dublin. We had thought that running a cloud compute application was beyond our current technical abilities, but Louis' work makes it pretty easy to do....
Mireille Miller-Young... angered by the [anti-abortion] sign... snatched the sign, took it back to her office to destroy it, and shoved one of the Short sisters...
The next Clinton presidential campaign... [Hillary Rodham] Clinton enters... in a much stronger position... her supporters may find it irresistible to amplify p.c. culture’s habit of interrogating the hidden gender biases in every word and gesture against their side...
When Jonathan Chait says "The P.C. Movement", both of these are in what he fears and opposes--everyone from vandals and bullies to the "supporters" of our likely next president, and everyone in between. In Chait's envisioning, they are all, along with everyone in between them part of a single Monstrous Regiment of Women (and others) that needs to be opposed in the interest of something equally if not more amorphous called "liberalism"...
It is a true fact that Jon Chait's extremely ill-advised New York Magazine article crossed my desk at the same moment that I was watching this equally ill-advised piece by Meg Perrett and Rodrigo Kazuo go by. They try to condemn an eight-person classical moral-philosopher reading list for various sins against leftism1. The interesting thing is that they get no traction whatsoever, even though they are here at the University of California Berkeley at what Jonathan Chait imagines to be the hotbed of American crazy leftism.
Belle Waring administers the smackdown:
As someone who thinks that the "great books" approach to classical social theory is past its sell-by date, I am now distressed. I confess that I believe that, over in sunny California, the Daily Cal is trolling us all when it decides to print this:
...in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester... [with] a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to... Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men... pretend[ing] that... economically-privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States)... are the only people to produce valid knowledge.... We must demand the inclusion of women, people of color and LGBTQ* authors on our curricula...
Can someone please tell me why my computer keeps trying to join ATTWiFi rather than AirBears?
65F, bright and sunny, 11:00 AM as of a Sunday morning...
During our 2.7 miles around the Lafayette Reservoir we met :
525 people is a very substantial proportion of the 25,000 population of Lafayette, CA.
But where were the missing men?
138 of them.
They were not at work. They were not preparing brunch. They were not even watching tv sports. So what were they doing?
and that the building of new housing in downtown Berkeley will continue. Let’s build on this momentum, and get serious about addressing the massive housing shortage in our community that is hitting working families hard. Downtown is great, but we have to do an order of magnitude more to bring supply and demand into balance.
Only 18% of Alameda County families can afford to buy the average home. In San Francisco the average rent is a staggering 46% of the average household income. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a family must earn $37.62/hour to afford the average 2 bedroom in San Francisco, and $30.35 to rent a 2 bedroom in the “affordable” East Bay. And the trend line is pointing way up.
For folks who want an overview of how we got in this situation, I highly recommend this article from back in April. It’s a long read and has a SF/tech industry perspective, but the dynamics discussed here apply to the whole Bay Area.
A few of the takeaways that I think are particularly pertinent to Berkeley:
J. Bradford DeLong is on sabbatical leave this 2014-2015 academic year, but is eager to talk. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 925-708-0467, FaceTime, or Skype
He has taught at MIT, Boston University, and Harvard University as well as Berkeley, and has guest-lectured elsewhere. He is Professor of Economics here at Berkeley, an affiliate of the Institute for New Economic Thinking-funded Berkeley Economic History Laboratory a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Weblogger at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1993-1995 and Chair of the Political Economy major here at U.C. Berkeley from 2002-2012.
His home intellectual base is Economic History, with excursions into Macroeconomics, Finance, and both Historical and Contemporary Political Economy.
Alan Moore: Watchmen
Walter Kovacs/Rorschach: I heard joke once:
Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed, life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world.
Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town. Go see him. That should pick you up."
Man bursts into tears. "But doctor," he says, "I am Pagliacci."
Roll on snare drum.
Rick Perlstein: 40 Years Ago: How Nixon's Resignation Paved The Way For Ronald Reagan: "It seemed that by April 30 Richard Nixon had no choice...
...but to say something about Watergate: six Republican senators said they would not run for reelection unless he did. Young men who last month bestrode Washington like colossi were hiring lawyers under threat of indictment, leaking accusations against colleagues, writing messages on legal pads rather than speaking them aloud—who knew whether their offices, too, were bugged?
(Roughly) the way Cosma Shalizi puts it:
Because "integrating over the posterior distribution is the whole point of Bayesian decision theory", a Bayesian cannot be uncertain about the probability of an observable. Bayesians are uncertain about the values of parameters. Bayesians are uncertain about the truth of hypotheses. But they cannot be uncertain about the probabilities of observables--and thus they cannot be uncertain about whether to take bets or not.
Can a Bayesian come close to being uncertain about the probability of an observable?
NIMBYism taken to extremes with astroturf "neighborhood associations":
April Gilbert: Berkeley restaurant has been approved: Let’s let it open: "I am a homeowner on Russell Street just below College...
and thus an Elmwood resident. A year ago, I heard that the owners of Comal on Shattuck Avenue were proposing a restaurant for the old Wright’s Garage space on Ashby and I was thrilled. It sounded like just the ticket to round out the dining options in our little neighborhood. Finally, we would have an upscale spot with a nice atmosphere and a small bar space--just what I felt had been missing. Then, I heard there was opposition from a group called the “Elmwood Neighborhood Association”(ENA)--strange given that I’d never heard of this organization despite living smack in the middle of Elmwood for eight years.... In all my years in Berkeley, I have never encountered this group. I have not gotten an email, a phone call, or a flyer in my mailbox. ENA is positioning itself as the voice of our neighborhood, which it is not. In contrast, I am quite familiar with CENA, the Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association. CENA has not taken a stand on the proposed new restaurant on Ashby, but when it polled its members, the majority of its Elmwood resident members was enthusiastic about having a good restaurant open and supported the Comal owners’ efforts.