Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time Horizons: Marriage Edition

Ross Douthat:
since the modern liberal mind is trained to ask for spreadsheet-ready projections and clearly defined harms, and the links that social conservatives think exist aren’t amenable to that kind of precise measurement or definition. How do you run a regression analysis on a culture’s marital iconography? How do you trace the downstream influence of a change in that iconography on future generations’ values and ideas and choices? How do you measure highly-diffuse potential harms from some cultural shift, let alone compare them to the concrete benefits being delivered by the proposed alteration? How do you quantify, assess and predict the influence of a public philosophy of marriage — whatever that even means — on manners and morals and behavior? Especially when there are so many confounding socioeconomic variables involved — enough of them, in fact, to enable left and right to argue endlessly about whether something as nebulous as “culture” really shapes marriage and family at all, or whether everything is just economics all the way down.

In the piece, Douthat links to this article, which FLG hadn't seen before but looks very interesting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Time Horizons: Bubbles

Barry Ritholtz:
stock-market bubbles pull gains into the present from the future. Toward the end of a secular cycle, the crowd becomes aroused and starts paying attention. Collectively, they begin to recognize how much money has been made during the past few years, and how much of the move they missed. So the crowd begins to pile in, somewhat late in the cycle and at somewhat elevated valuations.  Inevitably, they do worse than those who were early to the show.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Time Horizons: Messiah Complex

FLG was watching Russell Brand's Messiah Complex and was struck by several references to time horizons.   At one point, for example, Brand said he likes the idea that reality isn't permanent.   Later, he quoted Wittgenstein:
If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
FLG is on the other side of both those points of view, which probably explains why his politics differ so much from Brand, but very interesting nonetheless. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

In Case You Didn't Know: Seersucker Season

Put This On:
Depending on who you ask, seersucker season starts either on Memorial Day or Easter (most say Memorial Day, while some will insist on Easter).

FLG is staunchly in the Easter camp.   Over the last few years, he has been in knockdown drag out arguments on the first Friday (FLG wears his Seersucker on Fridays) following Easter with people wearing ill-fitting gray suits and cheap black shoes telling him he can't wear seersucker until Memorial Day.

Here's the thing, folks.  FLG can't remember a time that Derby Day, prime seersucker wearing day, has fallen after Memorial Day.   Therefore, Easter has to begin the season.  QED.  

Quote of the Day II

John McWhorter:
A key theme in the development of the West is the increasing value placed on 1) the individual, and 2) the factual. As such, the idea that the narrative is “what we really need to be talking about” sounds insightful, but is actually a veiled argument that moral advancement means fighting the Enlightenment.

Just clarify for those who won't click through.  In this context, "the narrative" is a story or point of view, for example that their is a rape crisis on college campuses, that is more important than facts in any particular case. 

Quote of the Day I

Larry Summers:
The legitimacy of US leadership depends on our resisting the temptation to abuse it in pursuit of parochial interest, even when that interest appears compelling. We cannot expect to maintain the dollar’s primary role in the international system if we are too aggressive about limiting its use in pursuit of particular security objectives.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Quote of the Day

Matt Levine:
I guess the framers of the Constitution didn't really think about collateralized loan obligations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Liberal Arts Versus STEM

A long running theme on this blog is that Liberal Arts and Humanities are more important than STEM education.  Consequently, FLG was happy to read this by Fareed Zakaria:
Innovation is not simply a technical matter but rather one of understanding how people and societies work, what they need and want. America will not dominate the 21st century by making cheaper computer chips but instead by constantly reimagining how computers and other new technologies interact with human beings.
 
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