BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-07-06 Tu

Things that went whizzing by I want to remember:


If our death rate is 1% of those who got enough of a case to get subsequent immunity, then with 600,000 deaths we have 20% of the total population immune as a result of their previous case. If one-third of those who had the disease also get vaccination, then that lowers the vaccination threshold for herd immunity against Delta to 72% of the total population. There’s a clump of blue-state counties (unfortunately not Los Angeles) that are there or almost there.

The gob-smacking thing, of course, is the political divide: Trump and the Trumpists are both trying to take as much credit as possible for the success of Warp Speed, and telling their base that they aren’t real men unless they are willing to fight the virus barehanded:

Charles GabaHappy Independence Day. Here’s U.S. COVID–19 vaccination levels by County: ‘Today… the 4th of July, which also happens to be the target date for President Biden’s call for at least 70% of all U.S. adults to have received their first vaccination shot…. It looks like we’re gonna come in at a little over 67% of all U.S. adults….. How much of the population would need immunity from the coronavirus in order to reach herd immunity… Delta variant… 85%… 

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One Video:

One thing that has never been clear to me is how much of the Egyptian afterlife-cult was purely an upper-class thing. It was really expensive in resources to do the full priest-advised thing. Did others accept that this world was all that there was for them? Or what?:

TimelineWhat Was Normal Life Like In Ancient Egypt?: ’Egyptologist Dr Joann Fletcher investigates what everyday life was like in ancient Egypt for an ordinary person…. How the people of Egypt lived… exploring their tombs, touring museums as well as uncovering their beliefs in the afterlife…

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Share Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality

Very Briefly Noted:


I would say, rather, more likely to be crystalizing from a single advanced-civilization source around Babylon or Ur. If there had been another civilization center starting at the same time—if Tartessus had existed millennia earlier, for example—things might have worked out differently. But this is a very nice paper indeed:

Nicola Ialongo & al.Bronze Age: How the Market Began: Spread of Weighing Systems Across Western Eurasia 4,000 Years Ago: ‘Knowing the weight of a commodity provides a way to value goods in the marketplace. But did a self-regulating market even exist in the Bronze Age? And what can weight systems tell us? Researchers investigated the dissemination of weight systems throughout Western Eurasia. Their simulation indicates that the interaction of merchants, even without intervention from institutions, is likely to explain the spread of Bronze Age technology to weigh goods…. The weight systems that emerged between Mesopotamia and Europe were very similar. This meant that a single merchant could travel, for instance, from Mesopotamia to the Aegean and from there to Central Europe and never need to change their own set of weights. The merchant could trade with foreign partners while simply relying on approximating the weights. There was no international authority that could have regulated the accuracy of weight systems over such a wide territory and long time span. In Europe, beyond the Aegean, centralised authorities did not even exist at this time. The researchers conclude that the emergence of accurate weight systems must have been the outcome of a global network regulating itself from the bottom-up… 

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Why ever would somebody who pledges allegiance to the idea that “you grab them by the vulva, and then they let you do whatever you want” is not a road to the approval or even the tolerance of the Fair Sex? If your idea of a role model is somebody who thinks his best life is seeing how huge an a--hole he can be and still get away with it, you are not going to get tolerated or hired much. And no, it’s not a civil rights issue, it’s a behave-like-a-normal-person issue. I laughed and laughed and laughed again:

Eric KaufmannViewpoint Neutrality in Academia is a Civil Rights Issue: ‘Viewpoint neutrality should be legally mandated: When a sample of nearly 1,500 female Ivy League students was asked whether they would date a Trump supporter, only 6 percent said yes (after excluding the small minority of the sample who support him). So finds a survey of 20,000 university students that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) conducted in 2020. While people are free to discriminate however they wish in dating, this attitude bleeds into problematic spheres such as hiring and social toleration… 

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Rather few liberal economists are engaged in what John Kenneth Galbraith called “the search for a higher moral justification for selfishness”. Most do not believe that “what I have, I hold” is the height of moral reasoning. Rather, as Daniel Davies says, they believe “we haven't yet discovered a better form of social organisation than private property for solving several important classes of optimisation problems” <>. While that does easily turn into the idea that there is an “overriding constraint that the current owners of property must always be satisfied first”, you can maintain appropriate distance. But I agree with Larry that, for someone trained neoclassically, it is hard. Only if you are by instinct a collectivist should you study economics. If you are by instinct an individualist—especially one who is even a little bit narcissistic—you should study sociology instead:

Larry Mishel’My dissertation advisor, a trust-busting guy, told me unions should file grievances but not affect wages. That’s because, like all the other liberals, he believed prices were set optimally and one should not intervene in any way to affect prices…. Another professor had a sign on his door that said ‘tell me what you want and I’ll tell you why you can’t have it’, which is a fair description of the output of their policy advice. One professor introduced a class on ‘discrimination’, saying there were very interesting models (WTF, it is a very important topic and issue!). They loved industry deregulation, i.e. airlines, etc. The liberal, anti-poverty folks on faculty accepted there were big tradeoffs between social policy and efficiency…. The macro policy people assumed the economy did have a natural tendency toward full employment. They were not racists, many were anti-racists, for sure. Basically, many of the liberals were hamstrung by their economics though they tried to be decent. In effect though, they embraced the kind of economics that enabled the rape of the working class over the last forty years. That’s not left… 

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I do not trust the calibration, or think that lottery-winners are the right group to look at: I am automatically selected-out of the sample, and my MPC matters for the average. But this is a step forward:

Mikhail Golosov & al.How Americans Respond to Idiosyncratic & Exogenous Changes in Household Wealth & Unearned Income: ‘We study how Americans respond to idiosyncratic and exogenous changes in household wealth and unearned income. Our analyses combine administrative data on U.S. lottery winners with an event-study design that exploits variation in the timing of lottery wins. Our first contribution is to estimate the earnings responses to these windfall gains, finding significant and sizable wealth and income effects. On average, an extra dollar of unearned income in a given period reduces pre-tax labor earnings by about 50 cents, decreases total labor taxes by 10 cents, and increases consumption by 60 cents. These effects are heterogeneous across the income distribution, with households in higher quartiles of the income distribution reducing their earnings by a larger amount. Our second contribution is to develop and apply a rich life-cycle model in which heterogeneous households face non-linear taxes and make earnings choices along both intensive and extensive margins. By mapping this model to our estimated earnings responses, we obtain informative bounds on the impacts of two policy reforms: an introduction of UBI and an increase in top marginal tax rates. Our last contribution is to study how additional wealth and unearned income affect a wide range of behavior, including geographic mobility and neighborhood choice, retirement decisions and labor market exit, family formation and dissolution, entry into entrepreneurship, and job-to-job mobility… 

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More worrisome, I think, is that Republicans now believe they have to pour rat poison down the well from which springs American solidarity and patriotism in order to come close enough for the less-democratic features of the American constitution to push them over the edge:

Ari BermanTranscript: Ezra Klein Interview: ‘Well, the system itself is the biggest problem for the Democratic Party… [and] American politics…. When you can win the popular vote for the presidency by 7 million votes, and the other candidate can come within 45,000 votes of winning the Electoral College…. the Senate being 50–50, but Democrats representing 41 million more Americans… a majority of Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote, and confirmed by senators who represented a minority of Americans. On all of those fronts, it really doesn’t seem like democracy is working…

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Where oh where is our Popular Front today?:

John Ganz6 Février 1934: ‘Although the rioters did not succeed in overthrowing the Republic, they did manage to bring down the government. Daladier’s resolve began to waver…. Most of Daladier’s cabinet and the leaders of the other parties encouraged him to resign. Only Léon Blum remained steadfast and encouraged the premier to declare martial law and keep parliament in permanent session; these two proposals were admittedly in tension with each other. Daladier… resigned…. The night of February 6 may have drawn the Right closer together in opposition to the Republic, but it would soon unite the Left—Socialist, Communist, and Radical—in its defense… 

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Interesting, but greatly overwrought. People have developed intense one-sided relationships with authors and characters for more than 4000 years, after all. Nobody was harmed by Charlotte Brontë having Jane Eyre break the fourth wall to say: “Reader, I married him”, were they?

Brendan MackieWhy Can’t We Be Friends: ‘Over the past decade, it has become increasingly common for people to develop intense one-sided relationships with famous people on the internet. What are called parasocial relationships (meaning almost social, or perversely social) have spread almost everywhere…. John Mulaney fans share concern over his recently messy personal life…. Fans of K-pop groups like Blackpink…. Zoomers goof off in the chat for hours watching Twitch livestreamers play Minecraft or PUBG. Even Peloton trainers are marketed as supporting us on our fitness journeys…. The hosts of podcasts in particular are the subject of these intense feelings of connection, as many observers, like Rachel Aroesti in this Guardian piece for instance, have pointed out…. I know, of course, that the McElroy brothers are not my friends. But I listen to the show completely alone, through the privacy of my earbuds. I can fool myself into thinking they are talking directly to me…. People responded to each crisis of belonging with the technology they had available: letters in the Renaissance, clubs in the early industrial era, TV in the 1950s. Today, people can turn to phones. Like the personality programs of the 1950s, parasocial media today are characterized by a calculated performance of intimacy. Performers speak to us conversationally, they let us know about their personal lives, they reveal what are framed as their vulnerabilities. The content is often in domestic settings…. Parasociality promises to satisfy a need that it can only make more acute… 

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