Adam T. Bradley

Friday Readings

Friday Readings

  • Geopolitical Futures: Not Much Is New in This Election
    The question is not why Americans regard this particular election as apocalyptic. The question is why Americans routinely regard presidential elections as apocalyptic, without realizing they are simply acting out an old script. One reason is a general one. Americans do not remember the past very clearly, particularly when it doesn’t directly affect their lives. America was founded without a past, but with a breathtaking future. As a culture, our focus has been there. We get caught up in the moment and we lack a sense of perspective because our memory of the past has been rendered fuzzy, with the hard edges removed.
  • The Economist: The Economics of Donald Trump's Wall
  • Boston Review: Paying for Punishment
    But understanding decarceration only through the lens of cost cutting has a major blind spot. America’s contemporary system of policing, courts, imprisonment, and parole doesn’t just absorb money. It also makes money through asset forfeiture, lucrative public contracts from private service providers, and by directly extracting revenue and unpaid labor from populations of color and the poor.
  • Lukasz Olejnik: Battery Status readout as a privacy risk
    Privacy risks and threats arise and surface even in seemingly innocuous mechanisms. We have seen it before, and we will see it again.
  • The Economist: From Dotcom Hero to Zero
    At its peak in 2000, Yahoo had a market value of $128 billion. In the dotcom version of Monopoly, Yahoo got the prime slot.
  • Annoyed Librarian: Information Failure
    The time has long gone when people would settle bar bets by calling a reference librarian, but the same sort of fact-checking Snopes engages in is what reference librarians excel at, or at least used to until people stopped asking them reference questions and started asking them to clear the printer jams.
  • Kieran Healey: Olympics Trolling
    A moment’s thought suggests that my views are perfectly correct. Reflecting a little further on my sports bigotry, I think the simplest model is a two-dimensional space that, I think you will agree, is both easy to understand and wholly objective.
  • #fridayreads: The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future

Friday Readings

  • ABC (Australia): Crisis on high
    Deep in the Himalayas sits a remote research station that is tracking an alarming trend in climate change, with implications that could disrupt the lives of more than 1 billion people and pitch the most populated region of the world into chaos.
  • The Awl: How to read a book and walk at the same time
    whereas I found Wallace Stegner’s A Shooting Star tiresome and unfinishable when I was reading it at home, I found the eleven-and-three-eighth-ounce paperback tiresome but eminently finishable while walking. How does that work? Walking renders any book on hand finishable because your only alternative is your mind, and haven’t you had enough of that?
  • BBC News: Pets left hungry as smart feeder breaks
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education: Texas Picked an Ominous Date to Arm Its Public Colleges
    In what appears to be an audacious act of public forgetting, a controversial Texas campus-carry law allowing concealed guns in university buildings is scheduled to take effect on Monday, August 1, the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas tower shootings.
  • The Economist: How to make children do homework
    The parents of nearly 16,000 pupils at 36 secondary schools in England were sent regular text messages to remind them of forthcoming tests, to report whether homework was submitted on time and to outline what their children were learning. Parents could opt out if the texts became bothersome. Few did. The result was an uptick in performance in maths and (more weakly) English, as well as lower absenteeism.
  • Lars P. Syll: Cherry-picking Economic Models
    …if one extends the alcohol neutral model to take that role into account, it is optimal for humans to be drinking all of their waking hours.
  • The Age: Could an aspirin a day keep depression away?
    ASPREE involves 16,500 Australian volunteers, all aged over 70, plus a few thousand extra in the United States. It constitutes the largest clinical trial ever conducted in this country, and one of the largest in the world. Results will be available in 2018.
  • **Foreign Policy: Norway Is So Nice That It Wants to Give Finland a Mountain for Its Birthday “We want to reach out a hand to our neighbor that we will be able to shake across the summit.”
  • Columbia Journalism Review: Is Rolling Stone about to get throttled in court over UVA rape report?

Friday Readings

  • Providence Journal: R.I. rethinking pedestrian bridge plan on 195 land after bids come in high
  • WPRI: Study: Low infrastructure spending makes RI an ‘outlier state’
  • The Economist: America’s growing temporary workforce
    America's temporary help industry first emerged after the second world war, when companies like Manpower and Kelly Girl Service began “renting out” office workers on a short-term basis. In those early years, temps numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Today, the industry employs some 2.9m people, over 2% of America’s total workforce.
  • The Economist: What if Germany had not Reunified
    Joining East and West together within NATO and the European Union was the worst option, except for all the others
  • Lars P. Syll: Why Economists Can't Reason Neoclassical economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about thought up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical evidence. The one-sided, almost religious, insistence on axiomatic-deductivist modeling as the only scientific activity worthy of pursuing in economics, is a scientific cul-de-sac.
  • Chasing Truth. Catching Hell.: Dear Norm: How Do You Defend Those People? (Part 3,223)
    No, I don’t mean “how can you live with yourself ensuring due process for people who have done really really bad things” or anything like that. I mean, how do you actually do it? When you have a client accused of something awful, and he/she has next to nothing by way of a defense, how do you defend them anyway?
  • USA Today: Hardwired for happy hour: Primates choose booze
    Scientists discovered that the aye-aye and the slow loris species both have a taste for booze, a finding that indirectly bolsters one theory for how humans came to appreciate a stiff drink. The aye-ayes in particular were such enthusiastic tipplers that after draining their cups, they searched for more…
  • #fridayreads: Thinking in systems: a primer by Donella H. Meadows

Friday Readings

  • Foreign Policy: The Soft Logic of Soft Targets
    Second, trying to defend “soft targets” is essentially impossible, because such targets are by definition vulnerable and there are an infinite number of them in any minimally free society.
  • Columbia Journalism Review: How a regional newspaper pulled off a national investigation into sexual abuse by doctors
  • Corey Robin: We can get rid of the Hitlers and the Himmlers, but not the Speers
    In 1942, Albert Speer drafted a decree that made it a crime, punishable by death, to provide false information about raw materials, labor, machinery or products. Himmler thought it was too harsh.
  • Foreign Policy: Britain Has a New Snooper-in-Chief
    “Government hacking powers, mass surveillance, and collection and sharing of data,” is how Gus Hosein, the executive director of Privacy International, summed up May’s agenda as home secretary, a position in which she oversaw the police, the MI5 domestic security services, and border control. In that role, May increased data collection on travelers in the EU and, in Hosein’s words, used “any opportunity to decry human rights laws as the bane of our existence.”
  • Open Culture: An 1585 Recipe for Making Pancakes
    Take new thicke Creame a pint, foure or five yolks of egs, a good handful of flower and two or three spoonefuls of ale, strain them together into a faire platter, and season it with a good handfull of sugar, a spooneful of synamon, and a little Ginger…

Friday Readings

Friday Readings

Friday Readings

The study of money is the root of all evil

All these findings correspond with a substantial body of research in the economic literature, which, with the help of surveys, laboratory experiments, as well as field experiments showed that those who learn about markets (economists) or act in markets (businessmen) are lacking in … ‘pro-social behavior’ … I also use corruption as a proxy to show whether there are any differences in pro-social behavior between economists and non-economists, but unlike them, I observe behavior outside the artificial situation of a laboratory. By analyzing real world data of the U.S. Congress, I found that politicians holding a degree in economics are significantly more prone to engage in corrupt practices.

René Ruske, “Does Economics Make Politicians Corrupt? Empirical Evidence from the United States Congress

PaperJS Sparklines

Yet another PaperJS experiment. This one generates Sparklines. It simply looks for canvases matching a specific CSS selector (canvas.sparkler by default), and draws a chart based on JSON-formatted data in the data-data attribute. Here, I'm displaying some unemployment data from Quandl.

The code is on Gist.

library(rjson)
library(Quandl)

Quandl.auth(getOption('quandl_auth_key'))

ct.unemp <- Quandl("FRBC/UNEMP_ST_CT", trim_start="1978-01-01", trim_end="2013-12-01", collapse="monthly")
ct.2yunemp <- rev(ct.unemp$Value[1:24])

me.unemp <- Quandl("FRBC/UNEMP_ST_ME", trim_start="1978-01-01", trim_end="2013-12-01", collapse="monthly")
me.2yunemp <- rev(me.unemp$Value[1:24])

ma.unemp <- Quandl("FRBC/UNEMP_ST_MA", trim_start="1978-01-01", trim_end="2013-12-01", collapse="monthly")
ma.2yunemp <- rev(ma.unemp$Value[1:24])

nh.unemp <- Quandl("FRBC/UNEMP_ST_NH", trim_start="1978-01-01", trim_end="2013-12-01", collapse="monthly")
nh.2yunemp <- rev(nh.unemp$Value[1:24])

ri.unemp <- Quandl("FRBC/UNEMP_ST_RI", trim_start="1978-01-01", trim_end="2013-12-01", collapse="monthly")
ri.2yunemp <- rev(ri.unemp$Value[1:24])

vt.unemp <- Quandl("FRBC/UNEMP_ST_VT", trim_start="1978-01-01", trim_end="2013-12-01", collapse="monthly")
vt.2yunemp <- rev(vt.unemp$Value[1:24])
New England Unemployment by State, 2011-12-31 to 2013-11-30
State Min/max 2011-12-31 2013-11-30
Connecticut 7.5%/8.5% 8.3% 7.5%
Maine 6.4%/7.4% 7.4% 6.4%
Massachusetts 6.7%/7.2% 6.9% 7.1%
New Hampshire 5.2%/5.6% 5.4% 5.2%
Rhode Island 9.4%/10.9% 10.9% 9.4%
Vermont 4.2%/5.1% 5.1% 4.3%