Links: Economics, Breaking Bad, the Moon, Entrepreneurship, Albert Murray, Etc.

Shockingly, it’s difficult to keep up a blog while finishing a Ph.D., designing a new course, and looking for jobs. I have some drafts of substantive posts that I hope to polish up and publish soon. For now, some more links.

  • Interesting article on the relationship between people’s behavior and the lunar cycle, from the Economist.

  • A good, subtle point about imputed rent in a letter to the editor of the Economist by Matt Carey, from the August 10 edition. Also see the bottom letter there, by the witty Bryan Dunlap, on entrepreneurship.

  • If you can get behind the New Yorker paywall, a really interesting profile by Henry Louis Gates of Albert Murray, the African-American cultural critic who recently died. Interesting discussion of, among other things, Murray’s complicated relationship with Ralph Ellison.

  • Good point from Matt Yglesias on Amazon and profitability.

  • Graeme Wood has an interesting article in the Atlantic about a US soldier who defected to North Korea several decades ago.

  • As an undergrad at Stanford, I remember reading the Ph.D. comics in the Daily and being perplexed. Now that I’m a grad student, they’re great–except that only an increasingly small fraction of them are funny. Question: Is this cartoon inspired by this much-funnier version of the joke in xkcd?

  • Dylan Matthews on Breaking Bad: what it gets right and wrong. Thank you, especially, for discussing that weird obsession with purity. Let’s think about economics, everyone!

  • Interesting argument by Brian Palmer in Slate against annual checkups.

  • The poll Which famous economist are you most similar to? isn’t as useful as simply answering the questions and then clicking on the questions to see other economists’ answers. (It’s particularly useful to see where you disagree with the consensus of economists; the site can highlight these for you.)

    As I answered questions, I bopped around a lot between closest economists; I ended up with Christopher Udry. The things I care most about—Pigovian taxation, etc.—are, as pointed out in the faq, widely agreed on by economists across the political spectrum.

    One thing I noticed was that there were a few few questions of the form “A causes B”, where B is something that is implied to be good. I might agree that this proposition is true but nonetheless think that B isn’t in fact good. Here we see judgment aggregation paradoxes coming up again! If the question is really getting at “Do you think A” is good, then perhaps the most honest answer is not to answer the question literally.