For the Weekend: Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach


Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;–on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago heard it on the AEgean,
And it brought into his mind
The turbid ebb and flow of human misery;
We find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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1.1. Theory: Robert Solow's Growth Model: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135

Th Jan 23: Robert Solow's Growth Model

Notes & Further Readings:

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Lecture Notes: The Solow Growth Model: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135

Jupyter (formerly iPython) notebook:

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0. Introduction: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135


T Jan 21: Growth in Historical Perspective, Humans and Their Economies

Notes & Further Readings:

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-1. Before Class Begins: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135


  1. Acquire: An iClicker, and access to the course readings

  2. Read: Course administration documents

  3. Read: Partha Dasgupta (2007): Economics: A Very Short Introduction, Prologue & chapters 1-4

  4. Read: Aristotle: Politics, Book I

  5. Do Assignment 1 (3 pts) Write & answer a syllabus FAQ question, due T Jan 21 9:00 am.

Notes & Further Readings:

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The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135: Assignments

Suggested Question (and Answer) for Course FAQ List: Assignment 1: Read the syllabus documents:

Using the information in the syllabus, think up a question that should be on the FAQ—the Frequently Asked Question—list for the course.

Answer the question you thought up.

Upload your question and answer to your account at the course on canvas.

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Note to Self: Richard Dawkins's Existence Poses a Real Problem for the Darwinian Theory of Evolution! 'The author… doesn’t care for “Pride and Prejudice”: “I can’t get excited about who is going to marry whom, and how rich they are.”' On a branch of the evolutionary tree as social as we are, genes that predispose you to such a mind state should have been wiped from the pool 50 million years ago… Just saying'...

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Wikipedia: Turnspit Dog _ 'According to John George Wood in _The Illustrated Natural History (Mammalia) (1853): "The services of the Turnspit Dog were brought into requisition. At one extremity of the spit was fastened a large circular box, or hollow wheel, something like the wire wheels which are so often appended to squirrel-cages; and in this wheel the Dog was accustomed to perform its daily task, by keeping it continually working. As the labour would be too great for a single Dog, it was usual to keep at least two animals for the purpose, and to make them relieve each other at regular intervals. The dogs were quite able to appreciate the lapse of time, and, if not relieved from their toils at the proper hour, would leap out of the wheel without orders, and force their companions to take their place, and complete their portion of the daily toil...

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Walter Jon Williams: Charging A Brick Wall Arley Sorg: 'What can you tell us about your recent novels—the Quillifer books and the Praxis books—what is special about them to you, and what do you really want readers to know about them?' WJW: 'At some point in the Nineties, my books started to grow in scope and got longer and longer. Eventually I wised up and split the huge stories into multiple volumes, which allowed me as much scope as I wanted, and also to be paid multiple times. Win/win! I’ve only recently realized that I’ve had a single project over the last twenty years, which is to examine the artifacts and tropes of genre, take them apart, and reassemble them in ways that make sense to me. It’s a very science fiction thing to do....

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Matthew Arnold: Culture and Anarchy 'This habit of ours is very well shown in that able and interesting work of Mr Hepworth Dixon’s, which we were all reading lately, The Mormons, by One of Themselves.... It seems enough for Mr Dixon that this or that doctrine has its Rabbi, who talks big to him, has a staunch body of disciples, and, above all, has plenty of rifles. That there are any further stricter tests to be applied to a doctrine, before it is pronounced important, never seems to occur to him. ‘It is easy to say,’ he writes of the Mormons, ‘that these saints are dupes and fanatics, to laugh at Joe Smith and his church, but what then? The great facts remain. Young and his people are at Utah; a church of 200,000 souls; an army of 20,000 rifles.’ But if the followers of a doctrine are really dupes, or worse, and its promulgators are really fanatics, or worse, it gives the doctrine no seriousness or authority the more that there should be found 200,000 souls—200,000 of the innumerable multitude with a natural taste for the bathos,––to hold it, and 20,000 rifles to defend it. And again, of another religious organisation in America.... ‘Such are, in brief, the bases of what Newman Weeks, Sarah Horton, Deborah Butler, and the associated brethren, proclaimed in Rolt’s Hall as the new covenant!’ If he was summing up an account of the teaching of Plato or St Paul, Mr Hepworth Dixon could not be more earnestly reverential. But the question is, have personages like Judge Edmonds, and Newman Weeks, and Elderess Polly, and Elderess Antoinette, and the rest of Mr Hepworth Dixon’s heroes and heroines, anything of the weight and significance for the best reason and spirit of man that Plato and St Paul have? Evidently they, at present, have not; and a very small taste of them and their doctrines ought to have convinced Mr Hepworth Dixon that they never could have.... As we shall never get rid of our natural taste for the bathos in religion,––never get access to a best self and right reason which may stand as a serious authority,––by treating Mr Murphy as his own disciples treat him, seriously, and as if he was as much an authority as any one else: so we shall never get rid of it while our able and popular writers treat their Joe Smiths and Deborah Butlers, with their so many thousand souls and so many thousand rifles, in the like exaggerated and misleading manner, and so do their best to confirm us in a bad mental habit to which we are already too prone...

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I daresay I do not think Ross Douthat has read Matthew Arnold. I believe Douthat only quotes him. I think Matthew Arnold was thinking of Douthat's hero Michael Clune—and of Douthat himself—when Arnold cast maximum shade on "futile... bookmen" and noted that "from the faults and weaknesses of bookmen a notion of something bookish, pedantic, and futile has got itself... connected with the word culture...". Getting—from some source—"a fresh and free play of the best thoughts upon his stock notions and habits" was called by Henry Rosovsky "learning approaches to knowledge". And Ross Douthat has no time for Henry Rosovsky: Matthew Arnold: Culture and Anarchy '[I] recommend culture as the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said... and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits.... From the faults and weaknesses of bookmen a notion of something bookish, pedantic, and futile has got itself more or less connected with the word culture.... Yet futile as are many bookmen... a man's life of each day depends for its solidity and value on whether he reads during that day, and, far more still, on what he reads during it. More and more he who examines himself will find the difference it makes... at the end of any given day, whether or no he has pursued his avocations throughout it without reading at all; and whether or no... he has read the newspapers only.... [But] if a man without books or reading, or reading nothing but his letters and the newspapers, gets nevertheless a fresh and free play of the best thoughts upon his stock notions and habits, he has got culture. He has got that for which we prize and recommend culture; he has got that which at the present moment we seek culture that it may give us. This inward operation is the very life and essence of culture, as we conceive it...

Ross Douthat: The Academic Apocalypse 'Preservation and recovery depend on... belief that “the best that has been thought and said” is not an empty phrase.... Michael Clune... insist[s]... that the humanities must offer “judgment” on what is worth reading, and G. Gabrielle Starr and Kevin Dettmar of Pomona answer... that no, humanists can only really “teach disciplinary procedures and habits of mind… we model a style of engagement, of critical thought: we don’t transmit value.” The Starr-Dettmar belief was my alma mater’s philosophy when I was an undergraduate; back then our so-called “core” curriculum promised to teach us “approaches to knowledge” rather than the thing itself. It was, and remains, an insane view for humanists to take.... Humanists have often trapped themselves in a false choice between “dead white males” and “we don’t transmit value.” Escaping that dichotomy will not restore the academic or intellectual worlds of 70 years ago. But the path to recovery begins there, with a renewed faith not only in humanism’s methods and approaches, but in the very thing itself...

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Matthew Arnold: Culture and Anarchy 'We see whither it has brought us, the long exclusive predominance of Hebraism—the insisting on perfection in one part of our nature and not in all; the singling out the moral side, the side of obedience and action, for such intent regard; making strictness of the moral conscience so far the principal thing.... Under the sanction of some such text as ‘Not slothful in business,’ or ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might,’ or something else of the same kind. And to any of these impulses we soon come to give that same character of a mechanical, absolute law, which we give to our religion; we regard it, as we do our religion, as an object for strictness of conscience, not for spontaneity of consciousness; for unremitting adherence on its own account, not for going back upon, viewing in its connection with other things, and adjusting to a number of changing circumstances; we treat it, in short, just as we treat our religion—as machinery. It is in this way that the Barbarians treat their bodily exercises, the Philistines their business, Mr Spurgeon his voluntaryism, Mr Bright the assertion of personal liberty, Mr Beales the right of meeting in Hyde Park. In all those cases what is needed is a freer play of consciousness upon the object of pursuit; and in all of them Hebraism, the valuing staunchness and earnestness more than this free play, the entire subordination of thinking to doing, has led to a mistaken and misleading treatment of things...

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Very Briefly Noted 2020-01-16:

  1. Dante Alighieri (1320): Inferno

  2. The Angry Staff Officer: Helm’s Deep 'Gandalf was able to build combat power through liaison networks and would bring victory out of defeat. He remains the most proficient ideal of the staff officer...

  3. Dante's Library: Lancelot '“A Gallehault indeed, that book and he/who wrote it, too; that day we read no more” Galeotto fu ‘l libro e chi lo scrisse/quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante, the pilgrim faints: “And I fell as a dead body falls” [e caddi come corpo morto cade] (Inf.5.142)...

  4. Gustave Doré: Dante Alighieri: Inferno: Plate 12,_Dante_is_accepted_as_an_equal_by_the_great_Greek_and_Roman_poets).jpg: 'Dante is accepted as an equal...

  5. Kenneth Rogoff: The Inequality Debate We Need 'The scientific evidence increasingly indicates that the world may soon reach a point of no return regarding climate change. So, rather than worrying almost exclusively about economic and political inequality, rich-country citizens need to start thinking about how to deal with global energy inequality before it’s too late...

  6. U.C. Berkeley: Course Capture

  7. Jason Kottke: Ridgeline Maps of the World

  8. John D. Grainger (2002): The Roman War of Antiochos the Great

  9. Wikipedia: Roman–Seleucid War

  10. Samuel Pao-San Ho: Colonialism and Development: Korea, Taiwan and Kwantung <(>: "Economic growth in three colonies within the broad context of Japanese imperialism. It discusses Japan's needs and how they determined the economic role played by her colonies.... The Japanese tried to develop Korea, Kwantung, and Taiwan as they had developed their economy in the late nineteenth century. The colonies were closely tied to Japan to create the "bilateralism" so conspicuous of colonialism...

  11. Gregory King: Estimates Population and wealth, England and Wales, 1688...

  12. Scott Alexander: SSC Journal Club: Dissolving The Fermi Paradox

  13. Brad DeLong: Bequests: An Historical Perspective

  14. Brad DeLong: Let's Have a Daniel Davies Day! ("Tricky Cases Where the Rightwingers Happen to Be Right" Department)

  15. Premium Spa Chemicals and Supplies

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George Orwell (1948): Nineteen Eighty-Four ''How many fingers, Winston?' 'Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could. I am trying to see five.' 'Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or really to see them?' 'Really to see them.' 'Again,' said O'Brien. Perhaps the needle was eighty—ninety.... 'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?' 'I don't know. I don't know. You will kill me if you do that again. Four, five, six—in all honesty I don't know.' 'Better,' said O'Brien. A needle slid into Winston's arm. Almost in the same instant a blissful,healing warmth spread all through his body. The pain was already half-forgotten. He opened his eyes and looked up gratefully at O'Brien.... 'Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Do you remember that now?' 'Yes.' 'Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Since the beginning of your life, since the beginning of the Party, since the beginning of history, the war has continued without a break, always the same war. Do you remember that?' 'Yes.' 'Eleven years ago you created a legend about three men who had been condemned to death for treachery. You pretended that you had seen a piece of paper which proved them innocent. No such piece of paper ever existed. You invented it, and later you grew to believe in it. You remember now the very moment at which you first invented it. Do you remember that?' 'Yes.' 'Just now I held up the fingers of my hand to you. You saw five fingers. Do you remember that?' 'Yes.' O'Brien held up the fingers of his left hand, with the thumb concealed. 'There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers?' 'Yes.' And he did see them, for a fleeting instant, before the scenery of his mind changed. He saw five fingers, and there was no deformity. Then everything was normal again, and the old fear, the hatred, and the bewilderment came crowding back again. But there had been a moment—he did not know how long, thirty seconds, perhaps—of luminous certainty, when each new suggestion of O'Brien's had filled up a patch of emptiness and become absolute truth, and when two and two could have been three as easily as five, if that were what was needed. It had faded but before O'Brien had dropped his hand; but though he could not recapture it, he could remember it, as one remembers a vivid experience at some period of one's life when one was in effect a different person. 'You see now,' said O'Brien, 'that it is at any rate possible.' 'Yes,' said Winston...


#noted #2020-01-16

MSW: The Black Watch at Fontenoy 'On the morning of the battle, when the Highlanders paraded, the commanding officer saw the regimental minister standing in the ranks with drawn broadsword. This was Adam Ferguson, later Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, who was threatened upon the spot with the loss of his commission if he did not at once return to his more orthodox duties. "Damn my commission!" retorted the bellicose prelate and marched off to battle with his men...

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Peter Jorgensen and Kevin J. Lansing: Anchored Inflation Expectations and the Flatter Phillips Curve 'Conventional versions of the Phillips curve cannot account for inflation dynamics during and after the U.S. Great Recession, leading many to conclude that the Phillips curve relationship has weakened or even disappeared. We show that if agents solve a signal extraction problem to disentangle temporary versus permanent shocks to inflation, then agents' inflation expectations should have become more anchored over the Great Moderation period. An estimated New Keynesian Phillips curve that accounts for the increased anchoring of expected inflation exhibits a stable slope coefficient over the period 1960 to 2019. Out-of-sample forecasts show that this model can account for the missing disinflation during the U.S. Great Recession and the missing inflation during the subsequent recovery. We use a simple three-equation New Keynesian model to show that an increase in the Taylor rule coefficient on inflation (or the output gap) serves to endogenously anchor agents subjective inflation expectations and thereby flatten the reduced-form Phillips curve...

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Scott Alexander: A Very Unlikely Chess Game 'Almost 25 years after Kasparov vs. Deep Blue, another seminal man vs. machine matchup. Neither competitor has much to be proud of here. White has a poor opening. Black screws up and loses his queen for no reason. A few moves later, white screws up and loses his rook for no reason. Better players will no doubt spot other humiliating mistakes. But white does eventually eke out a victory. And black does hold his own through most of the game. White is me. My excuse is that I only play chess once every couple of years, plus I’m entering moves on an ASCII board I can barely read. Black is GPT-2. Its excuse is that it’s a text prediction program with no concept of chess. As far as it knows, it’s trying to predict short alphanumeric strings like “e2e4” or “Nb7”. Nobody told it this represents a board game. It doesn’t even have a concept of 2D space that it could use to understand such a claim. But it still captured my rook! Embarrassing!...

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Note to Self: The Two Faces of Jean-Baptiste Say... Say I (1803): A Treatise on Political Economy Book I, Chapter XV:

To say that sales are dull, owing to the scarcity of money, is to mistake the means for the cause; an error that proceeds from the circumstance, that almost all produce is in the first instance exchanged for money, before it is ultimately converted into other produce: and the commodity, which recurs so repeatedly in use, appears to vulgar apprehensions the most important of commodities, and the end and object of all transactions, whereas it is only the medium. Sales cannot be said to be dull because money is scarce, but because other products are so. There is always money enough to conduct the circulation and mutual interchange of other values, when those values really exist. Should the increase of traffic require more money to facilitate it, the want is easily supplied, and is a strong indication of prosperity—a proof that a great abundance of values has been created, which it is wished to exchange for other values. In such cases, merchants know well enough how to find substitutes for the product serving as the medium of exchange or money...


Say II (1829): Cours Complet d'Economie Politique Pratique:

The Bank [of England], legally obliged to redeem its banknotes in specie, regarded itself as obliged to buy gold back at any price, and to coin money at a loss and at considerable expense. To limit its losses, it forced the return of its banknotes, and ceased to put new notes into circulation. It was then obliged to cease to discount commercial bills. Provincial banks were in consequence obliged to follow the same course, and commerce found itself deprived at a stroke of the advances on which it had counted, be it to create new businesses, or to give a lease of life to the old. As the bills that businessmen had discounted came to maturity, they were obliged to meet them, and finding no more advances from the bankers, each was forced to use up all the resources at his disposal. They sold goods for half what they had cost. Business assets could not be sold at any price. As every type of merchandise had sunk below its costs of production, a multitude of workers were without work. Many bankruptcies were declared among merchants and among bankers, who having placed more bills in circulation than their personal wealth could cover, could no longer find guarantees to cover their issues beyond the undertakings of individuals, many of whom had themselves become bankrupt...

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Andrew Bacevich: Trump's Iranian General Killing Same Old Losing Mideast Game Plan '“The game has changed.” So announced Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in warning that the Trump administration would take preemptive action to prevent further attacks on American personnel and facilities in Iraq. The killing of Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, by U.S. drone strikes at Baghdad‘s international airport shows that Esper is as good as his word. Yet, except in a nominal sense of enlarging the target set, the game remains unchanged, even if violence escalates further in the days ahead. It’s a game that the United States has been playing — and losing — for close to a generation. The purported objective of the game, which dates to the enunciation of the Carter Doctrine way back in 1979, is this: the use or threatened use of U.S. military might to impose order on the Persian Gulf and its environs. Ideally, that order would include respect for the values that Americans profess to cherish, among them democracy and regard for human rights. Minimally, it would permit the free flow of gulf oil to nations that rely on it to fuel their economies (our own not among them, given recent increases in U.S. domestic oil and gas production). Yet since 9/11, U.S. military exertions in the region have destroyed what little order once existed there. In place of order, today there is anarchy: civil wars, failed states and terrorist organizations that did not even exist when the American “Global War on Terrorism” commenced nearly two decades ago...

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Comment of the Day: Howard 'Honest to goodness, did none of these moronic European policy makers ever study the rise of fascism in Germany? Did they not notice that it wasn't inflation, it was austerity that paved the way? wWat could possibly justify this stubborn stupidity?...

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Ibn Khaldun: Muqaddimah: "At the beginning, dynasties maintain the Bedouin attitude, as we have stated 652 Therefore, they have few needs, since luxury and the habits that go with it do not (yet) exist. Expenses and expenditures are small. At that time, revenue from taxes pays for much more than the necessary expenditures, and there is a large surplus. The dynasty, then, soon starts to adopt the luxury and luxury customs of sedentary culture, and follows the course that had been taken by previous dynasties. The result is that the expenses of the people of the dynasty grow. Especially do the expenses of the ruler mount excessively, on account of his expenditures for his entourage and the great number of allowances he has to grant. The (available) revenue from taxes cannot pay for all that. Therefore, the dynasty must increase its revenues, because the militia needs (ever) larger allowances and the ruler needs (ever) more money to meet his expenditures. At first, the amounts of individual imposts and assessments are increased, as we have stated. Then, as expenses and needs increase under the influence of the gradual growth of luxury customs and additional allowances for the militia, the dynasty is affected by senility. Its people are too weak to collect the taxes from the provinces and remote areas. Thus, the revenue from taxes decreases, while the habits (requiring money) increase. As they increase, salaries and allowances to the soldiers also increase. Therefore, the ruler must invent new kinds of taxes. He levies them on commerce. He imposes taxes of a certain amount on prices realized in the markets and on the various (imported) goods at the city gates. 653a (The ruler) is, after all, forced to this because people have become spoiled by generous allowances, and because of the growing numbers of soldiers and militiamen. In the later (years) of the dynasty, (taxation) may become excessive. Business falls off, because all hopes (of profit) are destroyed, permitting the dissolution of civilization and reflecting upon (the status of) the dynasty. This (situation) becomes more and more aggravated, until (the dynasty) disintegrates...

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Weekend Reading: From Robert Harris (2015): Dictator


Weekend Reading: Robert Harris (2015): Dictator 'On the flatter ground at the top of the slope Cornutus had drawn up four cohorts—almost two thousand men. They stood in lines in the heat. The light on their helmets dazzled as brightly as the sun, and I had to shield my eyes. When Cicero stepped out of his litter there was absolute silence. Cornutus conducted him to a low platform beside an altar. A sheep was sacrificed. Its guts were pulled out and examined by the haruspices and declared propitious: “There is no doubt of ultimate victory.” The crows circled overhead. A priest read a prayer. Then Cicero spoke. I cannot remember exactly what he said. All the usual words were there—liberty, ancestors, hearths and altars, laws and temples—but for once I listened without hearing. I was looking at the faces of the legionaries...

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