Blog Archives

Window dressing for ideological biases

From Russ Roberts on the latest EconTalk podcast: … this is really embarrassing as a professional economist — but I’ve come to believe that there may be no examples … of where a sophisticated multivariate econometric analysis … where important

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Posted in Statistics

Square root of people

How do you infer the economic well-being of individuals from household income? At one extreme, you could just divide household income by the number of people in the household. This is naive because there are some economies of scale. It

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Convention versus compulsion

An alternate title for this post could be “Software engineering wisdom from a lecture on economics given in 1945.” F. A. Hayek gave a lecture on December 17, 1945 entitled “Individualism: True and False.” A transcript of the talk is

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Posted in Software development

The worst crisis Greece has ever known

A couple tweets from Dan Snow regarding Greece: BBC reporter: ‘This could be the worst crisis Greece has ever known’. There speaks a man without a history degree. Greece has been ravaged by Persian Immortals, Roman legionaries, Huns, Janissaries, Russian

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Posted in Uncategorized

Collecting versus understanding

“The year 2000 was essentially the point at which it became cheaper to collect information than to understand it.” — Freeman Dyson

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Posted in Science

How much time do scientists spend chasing grants?

Computer scientist Matt Welsh said that one reason he left Harvard for Google was that he was spending 40% of his time chasing grants. At Google, he devotes all his time to doing computer science. Here’s how he describes it

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Posted in Science

Pseudo-commons and anti-commons

Here are a couple variations on the tragedy of the commons, the idea that shared resources can be exhausted by people acting in their individual best interests. The first is a recent podcast by Thomas Gideon discussing the possibility of

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Posted in Business

Three P's and three I's of economics

In the December 27 episode of EconTalk, Pete Boettke summarizes basic economics as follows: If you don’t have the three P’s, you can’t have the three I’s. The three P’s are Property Prices Profit and loss The three I’s are

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Posted in Business

Economics in one sentence

From Economics in One Lesson: … the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but

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Posted in Business

Decentralized knowledge, centralized power

Arnold Kling argues in his interview on EconTalk that knowledge is becoming more decentralized while power is becoming more centralized. Therefore more decisions will be made by people who don’t know what they’re doing. His strongest point is that knowledge

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Posted in Business

The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones

According to Richard Sears, the world hit peak oil in 1985 in the sense that oil accounted for 50% of world energy in 1985 and the percentage has been declining since then. By that same measure, we hit peak coal

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A tale of two espresso machines

This post tells the story of two espresso machines: one in Los Angeles and one in Brenham, Texas. But it’s more about deciding what you do and do not want to control. *** In his book Made by Hand, Mark

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Posted in Uncategorized

Where the Unix philosophy breaks down

Unix philosophy says a program should do only one thing and do it well. Solve problems by sewing together a sequence of small, specialized programs. Doug McIlroy summarized the Unix philosophy as follows. This is the Unix philosophy: Write programs

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Posted in Computing

Freebies and entitlement

Take away a freebie and people will hate you. The latest EconTalk podcast relates a story of people who harbored a grudge against the Red Cross for decades. What did the Red Cross do that was so bad? They sold

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Posted in Business

Idea people versus results people

I liked this quote from Hugh MacLeod the other day: Idea-Driven People come up with Ideas (and Results), more often than Results-Driven People come up with Results (and Ideas). His quote brings up two related fallacies. People who are good

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Posted in Business