BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-03-24 We
Things that went whizzing by I want to remember...
Very Briefly Noted:
Berkeley Economics: Statement from the Faculty and Staff of the Economics Department in Support of our Asian-American Community Members <https://www.econ.berkeley.edu/content/statement-faculty-and-staff-economics-department-support-our-asian-american-community>
Tyler Cowen: Twitter Macro & Twitter Economics <https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2021/03/twitter-macro.html>
Jarrett Walker: Human Transit <https://humantransit.org/about>
Alon Levy: Pedestrian Observations <https://pedestrianobservations.com/support-me/>
Noah Smith: Your Local Price Changes Aren’t Inflation: ‘Why do some people in the Bay Area think inflation is high when it’s not?… LINK: <https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/your-local-price-changes-arent-inflation>
Kevin Drum: Jabberwocking <https://jabberwocking.com/>
Henry George: The Science of Political Economy <http://savingcommunities.org/docs/george.henry/specontents.html>
Henry George: Protection or Free Trade <https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/george-protection-or-free-trade#preview>
Christopher Condon: Yellen, Powell to Face Deficit, Inflation Fears at Congress: ‘Republicans blasted $1.9 trillion pandemic relief as excessive Biden team now mulling next package of as much as $3 trillion… LINK: <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-22/yellen-powell-to-face-down-deficit-inflation-fears-at-congress?sref=wFA4tJCq>
1) Cutting yourself loose from your relationship with your largest trading partner is not usually a source of strength or freedom. And with an “evasive” fabulist like Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson in charge of setting the course, Britain’s future looks like one of near-stagnation. Think of what has happened in the past fifteen years to Italy, but with much worse weather:
Chris Patten: The UK’s Hard Brexit Choices Have Arrived: ‘Almost all serious economists and business leaders expect… slower economic growth for the foreseeable future (as a result of Britain having left its main export market)…. The government has not released an official projection of Brexit’s economic impact; if the figures were good, they would be published in bold…. While ministers hunt for excuses, businesses face higher costs, more red tape, and delayed supplies. “Global Britain” will apparently get around such problems by finding new markets in Asia…. [But] there is no tunnel between Folkestone and New Delhi, and there are not 10,000 goods trucks a day shuttling between Dover and Shanghai…. Stronger UK-China trade ties would present Johnson with another hard choice. Will Britain continue to stand with other liberal democracies like the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan in trying to contain the threat that China poses to its region and the international rule of law? Or will it kowtow whenever President Xi Jinping’s regime stamps its feet?… The UK’s tough choices accumulate…. The problems lurking around the corner look menacing. Britain will have to make the best of Brexit. But it will be a long, hard struggle, all the more so with an evasive fabulist in charge…
2) The bullshit flows fast, thick, and plentifully from Facebook these days:
Alyse Stanley: Zuck Slowly Shrinks & Transforms Into a Corncob Ahead of Apple’s Looming Privacy Updates: ‘Facebook has pushed back against Apple’s planned rollout of anti-tracking tools at every possible opportunity, but now the social media giant seems to be changing its tune in a last-ditch effort to save face…. Zuckerberg said Facebook may actually be in a “stronger position” after the privacy updates…. (As you might already suspect, Facebook’s claims have been found to be misleading at best, and self-serving propaganda at the worst)…
3) I do not know whether Teslas this-is-definitely-not-an-autopilot here is simply being in human, or is also very badly programmed. But since it is going to deal with humans, acting in a way that communicates verbally and nonverbally with humans in a way that reassures and informs them is a vital importance. And that seems to have been badly neglected here:
Elizabeth Blackstock: Terrifying Drone Footage Of Tesla Making Unprotected Left Turn: ‘Full video on Chuck Cook’s YouTube channel…. His car waits and waits for an opportunity to turn left between bursts of traffic. The left turn isn’t a difficult one for most drivers…. The car just kind of waits in limbo until it deems the moment is right, which it will only do if it decides crossing is safe. So that means it just kind of… takes off. It doesn’t give Cook a warning. It just goes. And as you can see in the clip above, Cook doesn’t always deem it safe to do so, which means he needs to be on high alert to grab the wheel or hit the brakes. It kind of negates the whole purpose of it being a driver assistance program when the driver has to be more alert than normal. This comes just after last week’s video showing the absolute chaos that’s going on with Tesla’s Full Self Driving Beta program…
4) I confess that I do not know how to figure out whether or not the decline of the open web and the rise of the wannabe walled gardens—wannabe gardens like Facebook and Twitter and, yes, you too Google that treat their users like cattle to be tripped, drifted, misinformed, and scared out of their wits—was a mirror on the thing or not. Would it have survived had Google not decided that RSS feeds were its enemy as a mode of disintermediation? But it is easy to insert ads in the RSS feeds! Whatever. Google killed its Google RSS Reader, and so here we are. I would really like to know why, and how to make it better:
Kevin Drum: Why Have Blog Audiences Declined Over the Past Decade?: ‘RSS was a threat to practically every platform that aggregates news since it allowed users to decide for themselves what news they wanted to see—and to see it without passing through a gatekeeper. The best way to eliminate this threat was to eliminate or reduce support for RSS, as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all done. Blogs were just collateral damage here. An RSS reader is the only decent way to read a collection of blogs, and with the demise of RSS and Google Reader it became more difficult to follow blogs. Sure, lots of people switched to a different reader, but lots more didn’t know how or just never got around to it. And with that, the decline in blog readership accelerated. This was the start of a vicious cycle that opened up opportunities for Twitter, Medium, YouTube, podcasts, Substack, and other platforms that increasingly replaced blogs as the place for web-centric conversation…
5) This strikes me as very, very good news indeed. Now all we have to do is teach people how to do this, and also construct truth sandwiches:
Anna Funk: Scientists Can Implant False Memories—& Reverse Them: ‘Two key methods [that] helped participants differentiate their own real recollections from the false ones: Asking them to recall the source of the memory. Explaining to them that being pressured to recall something multiple times can induce false memories. WHY THIS MATTERS—Ultimately, the team found rich, false memories can mostly be undone. And they can be undone relatively easily. “If you can bring people to this point where they are aware of that, you can empower them to stay closer to their own memories and recollections, and rule out the suggestion from other sources,” Oeberst says. “You don’t need to know what the truth of the matter is, which is why they’re nice strategies,” false memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, who was not involved in the study, tells Inverse…
The NewsBlur link was the most useful thing I have read today. I don't have large blog lists and I used the browser bookmarks file to provide the list of blogs I looked at, but the problem of testing each site for new content was a pain if posts were relatively few. Many years ago I used an RSS or Atom feeder, but abandoned it. The NewsBlur option has me trying again.
As regard declines in blogs, I don't see it with the scitech blogs I read. They seem pretty stable. I would have said that of the economics blog from Mark Thoma until he retired it.
The desire to monetize everything is problematic. Why blogs cannot be seen as a hobby activity and a way to seek recognition of one's thoughts seems antithetical. I am not going to subscribe to lots of blogs. My eyeballs are limited. I subscribe to an international newspaper to contribute to its journalism and I am happy that the content is delivered online rather than as dead trees. But beyond that, the content would have to be very special to be worth paying for, and equivalent to a high quality science magazine. A subscription to a bundled a la carte selection of blogs might be worth paying for, but not individual writers.
I still love my RSS feed. Built on many years of intersecting blogrolls and recommendations by people such as you, Mark Thoma, PZ Meyers and many others too numerous to remember. The list has changed from time to time as one blog or another dies off or is overrun by feral commenters. But I always find (or am directed to) more.
As Ive made clear I find the Substack environment clunky and intrusive enough that it has driven me away from here and Matt Yglesias place in addition to never subscribing to Krugman (who I love to read). Im not happy about this after 20 years of great content from that group and many more. You have been especially prolific with a solid Political Economy core and a wide array of other subjects. Before Substack came along I already had a subscription to TPM which I happily pay for, though I have no doubt that creating their subscription environment was a significant undertaking.
I hope that a better solution is found for content creators soon as I fear my RSS feed may dry up if enough of you are enticed into Substack hell. Maybe not hell, we need to reserve that for Facebook and Twitter - neither of which I will set foot in.
Where I work we used the constant stream of AOL disks as free frisbee substitutes, but apparently a significant percentage of the population installed them and enjoyed the experience. Its been downhill into walled mazes ever since.