Assorted Links (6/30/2014)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading and videos I have been viewing lately:

Jason Gay identifies the treatment for converting soccer haters ahead of Tuesday’s U.S.-Belgium Match

“Jason Gay has discovered the cure for ‘Irrational Soccer Crankiness'”

The real war on women

Quoting from this article, “Policies put into place by liberals and conservatives alike have discouraged women’s labor force participation, and no one is talking about it.”

Is Work Killing You? In China, Workers Die at Their Desks

“Chinese banking regulator Li Jianhua literally worked himself to death. After 26 years of “always putting the cause of the party and the people” first, his employer said this month, the 48-year-old official died rushing to finish a report before the sun came up.”

Facebook prompts outrage with experiment on users

“A social-network furor has erupted over news that Facebook Inc., in 2012, conducted a massive psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 unwitting users.”

It Took Studying 25,782,500 Kids To Begin To Undo The Damage Caused By 1 Doctor

“Here’s the deadly results when people say things about science without actually looking at science.” The infamous (retracted) Lancet article by Wakefield et al. is available online at

The digital degree

Here’s what The Economist has to say about the “value proposition” of traditional universities: “Traditional universities have a few trump cards. As well as teaching, examining and certification, college education creates social capital. Students learn how to debate, present themselves, make contacts and roll joints. How can a digital college experience deliver all of that?”

Wealth by degrees

“IS A university degree a good investment? Many potential students are asking the question, especially in countries where the price of a degree is rising, as a result of falling government subsidies.”

Creative destruction

“HIGHER education is one of the great successes of the welfare state. What was once the privilege of a few has become a middle-class entitlement, thanks mainly to government support.”

Case of Uncreative Destruction

“In The Wall Street Journal, Bari Weiss talks with two entrepreneurs who wanted to help the U.S. Postal Service digitize mail. Some local postmasters liked it. Washington didn’t.”

Iraq’s Brittle Nationhood

“Does it still make sense to think of Iraq as a country?”

One of these cat videos will be named best of the year. Which one should it be?

Check out the nominees for the Golden Kitty Award.  In my opinion, it’s a close call between “Jedi Kittens Strike Back” (@ and “8 Signs of Addiction” (@…

Obama Goes Too Far for Even Supreme Court Liberals

“… just the latest in a series of unanimous rebukes by the court of the administration’s legal positions.”

The Health Benefits of Beer

“Although most runners agree that beer is not exactly a “health food,” there’s good news for those of us who like to imbibe. Downing a few cold ones as you’re heading out the door for a run is obviously not the best choice, but beer–in moderation–can be a perfectly acceptable option for after a run or on non-training days.”

The IPO is dying. Marc Andreessen explains why.

“Netscape cofounder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says the decline of the initial public offering is bad for ordinary investors. He also critiques economist Thomas Piketty.”

Top CIA and military officials warn US drones could create endless war

“The US executive branch has yet to engage in a serious cost-benefit analysis of targeted UAV strikes as a routine counterterrorism tool.”

Four Reasons NOT to Raise the Minimum Wage

“The debate over minimum wage continues to rage across the country. But, would raising the minimum wage actually harm the very people it is purportedly designed to help?”

Supreme Court: abortion clinic ‘buffer-zones’ violate the First Amendment

“Restricted access to sidewalks near abortion clinics, the court ruled, violates the first Amendment”

Charles Krauthammer – Government by Fiat

“The Supreme Court this week admonished the Environmental Protection Agency for overreaching in regulating greenhouse gases.”

After crisis, risk officers multiply, gain more clout at banks

“Risk officers are gaining power and multiplying in number across the U.S. banking industry.”

How dads improve their kids’ lives, according to science

“Paul Raeburn’s new book, Do Fathers Matter?, is a comprehensive review of studies on the role of fathers.”

The optimal number of immigrants

University of Chicago economist John Cochrane’s answer: “Two billion, two million, fifty-two thousand and thirty-five (2,002,052,035). Seriously.”

Supreme Court strikes down Obama recess appointments

“The decision gives the Senate broad power to thwart future recess appointments, but did not go as far as some conservatives hoped to undercut the president’s ability to fill vacant executive branch posts and judicial slots.”

Get Ready for the Soccermania Letdown

“In the Wall Street Journal, Gerald Eskenazi says hooray for the U.S. World Cup team. But let’s not get carried away with the ‘breakthrough’ talk.”

40 maps that explain World War I

“Why the war started, how the Allies won, and why the world has never been the same.”

Assorted Links (6/26/2014)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

The Supreme Court’s huge new cellphone privacy ruling, explained

“The Supreme Court kept cops from looking at your phone. Here’s why that’s such a big deal.”

Senseless in Seattle: The Minimum-Wage Follies

“You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to understand that economies are not static.”

Even America’s most liberal states imprison more people than nearly any other country in the world

“Even the most liberal state in America has a higher incarceration rate than most other countries around the world, according to a new analysis from the Prison Policy Initiative.”

This chart shows that violent deaths at US schools remain quite rare

“There’s been no clear upward trend since the 1990s.”

Why Iraq’s army crumbled

“On the face of it, the stunning success of the ISIS offensive in the past ten days defies understanding.”

Devaluing the Bolivarian revolution

“After months of opposition protests that it portrays as a “fascist coup”, the government of Nicolás Maduro has reason for grim satisfaction. Using crude, but selective, repression, Mr Maduro has fought the protesters to a state of exhaustion.”

Kim Strassel and the WSJ on the Lost IRS Emails

“Thank heavens that unlike some in the press, investigative columnist Kim Strassel and her colleagues at the WSJ have been willing to dig into the revelations of evidence destruction at the Internal Revenue Service.”

Tyranny of Experts

NYU economist William Easterly clearly and succinctly explains development economics…

3 academics think they’ve solved the HFT problem

“Mandating that stocks trade in set time intervals would negate some of the problems posed by high-frequency trading, according to an analysis.”

Inside the vast liberal conspiracy

“Picture this: millionaires and billionaires gathering under tight security in fancy hotels with powerful politicians and operatives to plot how their network of secret-money groups can engineer a permanent realignment of American politics.  Only, it’s not the Koch brothers. It’s the liberal Democracy Alliance.”

Obama’s Deficient Student Loan Plan

“But thinking that more federal aid will make college affordable is like believing that a dog can catch its tail if it goes faster.”

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution

“Johannes Kepler, one of the world’s great mathematicians, decided to marry in 1611. He made a list of 11 women to interview, and he wanted, of course, to choose the best…”, so he invented optimal stopping theory, which is an important result used in a number of different fields, including applied probability, statistics, and decision theory.

Here are the states that small business owners love and hate

“Key factors evaluated include ease of hiring. ease of starting a business, regulations, licensing, tax code, and zoning.”

The High Cost of Cheap Health Insurance

“The Obama administration wants everyone to know how cheap insurance is under Obamacare.  But they don’t really want people to think about how expensive it is to keep it that way.”

The High Price of Obama Fatigue

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wonder Land columnist Dan Henninger writes that the IRS scandal isn’t Watergate. It’s worse than Watergate.”

New MRU Course: Trade and Prosperity

I just received this email from Professor Don Boudreaux, who chairs the Department of Economics at George Mason University. It is a (free) course announcement – the title of the course is “Everyday Economics”. I highly recommend this course and plan to “sit” through it myself!

From: Don Boudreaux
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 4:04 PM
Subject: My New MRU Course: Trade and Prosperity

Dear Friends,

I’m excited to announce a new video series at Marginal Revolution University on Trade and Prosperity.

These videos are part of a new course, Everyday Economics, where instructors take a look at everyday scenarios to illustrate the role economics plays in our day-to-day lives.

In these videos on trade and prosperity, we’ll answer questions such as:

One of the key features of this course is that the viewer decides what we should cover next. Do you have questions about trade? Anything specific you’ve wondered about? Submit your ideas and vote on topics submitted by other viewers.

Also, keep an eye out for future Everyday Economics sections. Up next is Tyler Cowen’s section on the economics of food, to be released later this year.

See you in class,

Don Boudreaux

Assorted Links (6/18/2014)

Iraq: What a Way To Go

“The Iraqi state in its historic territorial configuration is gone—solid gone, and it ain’t coming back. Time to start thinking hard about next steps.”

The World Ignites on Obama’s Watch

“Yet another sharp shard in a quickly fracturing world: Al-Qaeda has issued a call for Muslims in Kashmir to use Syria and Iraq as a model for fighting India. What’s the plan, Mr. President?”

United States of Secrets – FRONTLINE

“How did the government come to spy on millions of Americans?”

A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop

“Students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material.”

The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom

A wealth of studies on students’ use of computers in the classroom supports the notion of banning…

Tim’s Vermeer (2013)

“Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.”

Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham

“What exactly is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham? What is the group’s goal? A guide to #ISIS…”

Five Things Facebook Knows About You

“Facebook announced it is adding your web-browsing activity to data that advertisers can make use of to show you targeted ads. Privacy advocates have raised concerns. Just how much does Facebook know about you?”

Why The Supposed Rise Of Mass Shootings Is A Myth

“Gun violence in the U.S. is high, but it’s not as bad as it was 20 years ago.”

Expect Soaring College Costs From the President’s Price-Subsidizing Student Loan Scheme

“Students who resist the temptation of “help” with college costs will be in a much better position when the higher education bubble bursts.”

Putting America’s ridiculously large $17 trillion economy into perspective by comparing US state GDPs to entire countries

“Overall, the US produced 22.7% of world GDP in 2013, with only about 4.4% of the world’s population. Three of America’s states (California, Texas and New York) – as separate countries – would rank in the world’s top 13 largest economies. And one of those states – California – produced more than $2 trillion in economic output in 2013 – and the other two (Texas and New York) produced more than $1.5 trillion and $1.3 trillion of GDP in 2013 respectively.”

11 facts that explain the escalating crisis in Iraq

Quoting from this Vox article, “Iraq has essentially just began another civil war, and it’s totally unclear how long it’s going to last or how it’s going to end. And no one’s sure what to do about it.”

Bowdoin’s Crackdown on Religious Liberty

“Bowdoin simply does not understand religion, and that’s why its non-discriminatory policy is really no surprise. The college cannot understand that what it calls “choices” and “decisions” are… matters of faith, truth, and even love.”

Welcome to the Jihadi Spring

“The Arab Spring is over. Welcome to the Jihadi Spring. Across a huge swath of what, up until recently, had been known as Iraq and Syria, a transnational movement of Sunni Islamic extremists has taken control. “

7 weird and terrible effects of sleep deprivation

“There’s a growing body of research showing that sleep deprivation is related to all sorts of problems — from increased risk of vehicle crashes to health problems like heart disease and anxiety disorders.”

11 maps that explain the US energy system

“Ever wonder what America’s energy infrastructure looks like? All those power plants and coal mines and oil wells and transmission lines?”

Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware

“National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.”

David Brat: Election victory ‘was basically a miracle’

“Brat: Cantor defeat ‘was basically a miracle'”

Fathers teach risk-taking, boundary-setting; learning from ‘sock wrestling.

“Some scientists are inventing new scales and lab procedures to measure fathers’ special role.”

The guy who beat Eric Cantor penned a scathing, seemingly unpublished book about the economics profession

“There’s a lot you can learn about David Brat’s beliefs by reading his academic research.”


Assorted Links (6/3/2014)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading, podcasts that I have been listening to, and videos that I have been viewing lately:

Research shows we feel less stress at work than at home. So why can’t a home be more like an office?

“Average cortisol levels were lower in both men and women, single or married, parents or not, while at work.”

Remembering Tiananmen Square

“Only in Hong Kong will Chinese people be able to commemorate the dead. Elsewhere in China commemoration of the June 4th crackdown remains strictly forbidden.”

Texas Shines Bright in New Fortune 500 Rankings

“Fortune magazine released their annual list of top 500 U.S. companies on June 2. Not surprisingly, Texas-based businesses dominated the rankings.”

D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now – interactive

“Peter Macdiarmid has taken photographs of locations in France and England to match with archive images taken before, during and after the D-day landings.”

William Anthony Hay on Edmund Burke

“William Anthony Hay reviews “The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence,” by David Bromwich.” Burke is a fascinating figure in US history; this biography of Burke seems quite worthwhile to pursue!

No Pain No Gain as Tattoo Regret Fueling Laser Removals

A new booming business – tattoo removal.

Buying Insurance Against Climate Change

“Because efforts to stop global warming may fail, one way to handle the financial losses is to share the long-term risks.” Interesting New York Times article by 2013 Nobel Economics Laureate Robert J. Schiller…

How I started writing songs again

Highly recommended! Quoting from the description of this TED talk, “Sting’s early life was dominated by a shipyard-and he dreamed of nothing more than escaping the industrial drudgery. But after a nasty bout of writer’s block that stretched on for years, Sting found himself channeling the stories of the shipyard workers he knew in his youth for song material.”

Hipster Health Insurance 101: Advice For When You’re Getting the Short End of the Stick

Hint: You overpaying so old folks can underpay is not how insurance is supposed to work.

The VA Scandal Is a Crisis of Leadership

“Obama’s inattention to managing the government may kill the progressive project, Peggy Noonan writes.”

My wife is not the same woman that I married – The Matt Walsh Blog

Although its author (Matt Walsh) has only been married for 3 years, this article reads like something written by a person who has been married for most of his life…

Yuval Levin on Burke, Paine, and the Great Debate

“Yuval Levin, author of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas of Burke and Paine and their influence on the evolution of political philosophy. Levin outlines the differing approaches of the two thinkers to liberty, authority, and how reform and change should take place. Other topics discussed include Hayek’s view of tradition, Cartesian rationalism, the moral high ground in politics, and how the “right and left” division of American politics finds its roots in the debates of these thinkers from the 1700s.”