Molnupiravir against Covid

Molnupiravir against Covid (Bloomberg).  It might cut the death rate in half, the market has been boosting the Merck share price.  And more here: “…molnupiravir works by introducing genetic errors that garble the coronavirus’s genetic code. That means it may be more resistant to mutation, and may even work on other coronaviruses or RNA viruses.”  […]

Who are the best Irish artists?, part III, Mainie Jellett

Mainie Jellett, 1897-1944, born in Dublin to a well-to-do Protestant family of Huguenot origin.  She studied with William Orpen in Dublin and then moved to England, where she developed an attractive figurative style.  But soon thereafter her work turned abstract  when she studied Cubism in Paris in the early 1920s.  She was part of what […]

Jobs for Sale: Corruption and Misallocation in Hiring

Corrupt government hiring is common in developing countries. This paper uses original data to document the operation and consequences of corrupt hiring in a health bureaucracy. Hires pay bribes averaging 17 months of salary, but contrary to conventional wisdom, their observable quality is comparable to counterfactual merit-based hires. Exploiting variation across jobs, I show that […]

You people are crazy

So, I decided to attempt a measurement to quantify this phenomenon. On Wednesday, September 22nd, in the 1:00 pm hour, I observed 400 Stanford cyclists on Lasuen Mall, a popular campus street for bicycles. I simply noted whether each cyclist wore a mask, a helmet, neither, or both. Here are the final tallies: Total cyclists: […]

Who are the best Irish artists?, part II on John Lavery

John Lavery (1856-1941, born North Belfast, Catholic) is perhaps the most classic pick for Ireland’s greatest artist, though he is not my personal pick.  He did, however, create many of Ireland’s most beloved and I would say most typical paintings.  It is difficult to keep him out of your top three.  Although he moved to […]

*Ich bin dein Mensch*

The English-language title is the somewhat different “I’m Your Man,” as Mensch is a more universal and less gendered concept.  The premise is that a researcher woman is to spend three weeks with a robot man, possibly romantically, and then report back on the experience.  I thought this was a “good enough” AI movie, better […]

Why isn’t there more debate over the Biden economic plan?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit: My colleague Arnold Kling put it well: “With the reconciliation bill, there is no attempt to convince the public that it is desirable to enact an enormous child tax credit or to mandate ending use of fossil fuels in a decade. Instead, what […]

Why don’t elite colleges expand supply?

Peter Q. Blair (Harvard) and Kent Smetters (U. Penn) have a new paper based on that question, here is the abstract: While college enrollment has more-than doubled since 1970, elite colleges have barely increased supply, instead reducing admit rates. This study shows that straightforward reasons cannot explain this behavior. The authors propose a model where […]

Jesse Shapiro, MacArthur fellow

Economist, Brown University.  Citation: Devising new frameworks of analysis to advance understanding of media bias, ideological polarization, and the efficacy of public policy interventions. Here is previous MR coverage of Jesse Shapiro.  Here is Jesse’s home page.  (He is also partner of economist Emily Oster.) Here are the other winners.  Congratulations!

The world China wants China fact of the day

After years of escalating pressure, last November Chinese diplomats in Canberra warned that to enjoy better relations with Beijing, Australia’s government must address 14 Chinese grievances. It must, among other things, stop funding “anti-China” research, refrain from provocative actions like requesting a more thorough World Health Organization investigation of the origins of Covid-19, stop opposing […]

Who are the best Irish artists?, part I on William Orpen

During my recent trip to Dublin and the UK I tried to make a systematic go of learning more about Irish art, mostly by looking at it more systematically.  I’ll do a multi-part series about the best Irish painters, noting that hardly anyone outside of Ireland seems to follow Irish art.  That is a shame, […]

Covid facts, about men

The largest declines in life expectancy were observed among males in the US, who experienced a decline of 2.2 years relative to 2019 levels, followed by Lithuanian males, with a decline of 1.7 years. “For western European countries such as Spain, England and Wales, Italy, Belgium, among others, the last time such large magnitudes of […]

16th and 17th century Protestantism (that was then, this is now)

Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestant culture is, despite both popular and popular scholarly persuasion, diametrically opposed to each one of the cardinal positions of the liberal tradition listed above.  Those central features of early modern evangelical culture might be quickly and crudely summarized thus: enslavement of the will, with total repudiation of works as currency in […]

What I’ve been reading

1. Anne Enright, The Green Road.  Could Enright be the least heralded, English-language novelist in the United States today?  I also was a big fan of her last book Actress.  Her short pieces are wonderful as well.  Having won a Booker, she is hardly obscure, and yet I have never had anyone tell me that […]

A simple, reductive account of my visit to the National Gallery, London

From the 15th through the 17th centuries, the most skilled physical producers in the West were also the best applied chemists and they had ample financial support and they were working out all visual permutations of expressing the best idea the West ever has taken up. Pretty amazing when you think of it in those […]

Is “wrestled” the right word here?

The advisers also wrestled with the practicalities of endorsing a booster shot for only Pfizer-BioNTech recipients, when close to half of vaccinated Americans have received Moderna or J. & J. vaccines. “I just don’t understand how, later this afternoon, we can say to people 65 and older, ‘You’re at risk for severe disease and death, […]

A few observations on my latest podcast with Amia Srinivasan

I am reluctant to do this, as I have never offered ex post commentary on a Conversations with Tyler before.  It seems unfair to the guest (who may or may not have comparable platforms), and perhaps it is the guest who deserves the last word?  Still, I think I can at least try to clear […]

What is *the best* time zone for global work and Zoom?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, and my answer is Ireland and the UK (Portugal too).  Excerpt: West Coast meetings are trickier. But if you don’t take any past 2 p.m., they’re still manageable. Keep in mind that a lot of technology types start their day at 7 a.m. or earlier, precisely […]

Herding, Warfare, and a Culture of Honor

That is the title of a new and important paper by Yiming Cao, Benjamin Enke, Armin Falk, Paula Giuliano, and Nathan Nunn, here is the abstract: According to the widely known ‘culture of honor’ hypothesis from social psychology, traditional herding practices are believed to have generated a value system that is conducive to revenge-taking and […]

Alcohol sentences to ponder

However, he added, “I don’t know of a medical society that doesn’t serve alcohol.” Even the attendees at the Research Society on Alcoholism get two drink chits at the opening reception, he said. Here is the full New Yorker article, interesting throughout.  Via N.

How the game of *Life* evolved

The game underwent numerous updates over the years. The early emphasis on money to determine the winner had been “indicative of what sold in that era,” George Burtch, the former vice president of marketing for Hasbro, which acquired Milton Bradley in 1984, said in a phone interview. As times changed, so did the game, with […]

My Conversation with Amia Srinivasan

I am pleased to have had the chance to do this, as in my view she is one of the thinkers today who has a) super smarts, b) breadth and depth of reading, and c) breadth and depth of thinking.  That combination is rare!  That said, I don’t quite agree with her on everything, so […]

How economists use gdp to think

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  Here is one bit: An appreciation of GDP helps keep things in perspective. Say there is some social or economic trend you dislike or think dangerous. One inclination would be to try to visualize that trend as a share of GDP. Most things are a pretty […]

Claims about columns

Like I said, I never wanted to be a columnist, but no one did when I started back in 2000. Sure, there were columnists around then, some of whom still write for the Guardian (Jonathan Freedland, Martin Kettle, Polly Toynbee), some of whom sadly don’t (Martin Wollacott, Hugo Young). But column-writing was seen as something of a private […]

Intergenerational mobility with race and measurement error

A large body of evidence finds that relative mobility in the US has declined over the past 150 years. However, long-run mobility estimates are usually based on white samples and therefore do not account for the limited opportunities available for non-white families. Moreover, historical data measure the father’s status with error, which biases estimates toward […]

More on Ireland during World War II

A few more points: 1. Since both Germany and Britain maintained embassies in Dublin, Ireland became renowned during the war as “one of the whispering-galleries of Europe and a natural centre of for intrigue and spying of every kind.” 2. Fuel was so scarce that private motoring virtually ceased by 1943, and even public transport […]

From the comments, on boosters and Covid policy

My first reaction upon hearing that boosters were rejected was to ask the same thing: would these same “experts” say that, because the vaccines are still effective without boosters, vaccinated persons don’t need to wear masks and can resume normal life? Of course not. They use the criterion “prevents hospitalization” for evaluating boosters (2a) but […]

Learning to live with Woke

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, or maybe try this link, note it is 3x the usual length and not easily excerpted.  Nonetheless here is one bit: Note that it is not necessary to approve of all U.S. cultural exports to view the spread of wokeism as a net positive for the […]

More on US vs. UK television shows

From Alex Griffiths: In a recent article you wrote about the historic difference between British and American panel shows and I wanted to share my theory. I think that there are two factors at play in the difference between British and American panel shows. 1. Market size, 2. Culture. 3. What is funny in US […]

U.S.A. fact of the day solve for the equilibrium

Utah’s population grew faster than that of any other state between 2010 and 2020. Salt Lake City has the lowest jobless rate among all big cities, at 2.8%, compared with a national rate of 5.2%. That the state has rebounded so well from the downturn caused by the covid-19 pandemic is thanks to the Wasatch […]

Emergent Ventures India, new winners, third Indian cohort

Angad Daryani / Praan Angad Daryani is 22-year-old social entrepreneur and inventor from Mumbai, and his goal is to find solutions for clean air at a low cost, accessible to all. He received his EV grant to build ultra-low cost, filter-less outdoor air purification systems for deployment in open areas through his startup Praan. Angad’s […]

Our world will stay weird

Aurea Smigrodzki was born in the USA last summer. She is the latest baby at the forefront of science. She is the first baby in history to be conceived with the help of polygenic testing. The test is fully named “preimplantation genetic testing for polygenic disorders”, or PGT-P for short. Here is further information, the […]

Maybe the last sentence here is wrong?

“Barbarism” is perhaps best understood as a recurring syndrome among peripheral societies in response to the threats and opportunities presented by more developed neighbors. This article develops a mathematical model of barbarigenesis—the formation of “barbarian” societies adjacent to more complex societies—and its consequences, and applies the model to the case of Europe in the first millennium […]

Ireland during World War II

The Republic of Ireland of course was neutral.  I had not known these facts: 1. Irish were allowed to emigrate to Britain to work, but with assurances they would not be conscripted. 2. Ireland engaged in heavy censorship during the War, mostly to stop people from getting the impression that the War was a moral […]

My podcast with Auren Hoffman

A bit on time management, a bit on talent, a bit on organizational capital, and indeed a bit on almost everything! Auren is a very good interviewer, here is the link, 43 minutes.

What should I ask David Rubinstein?

I will be doing a Conversation with him.  From Wikipedia: David Mark Rubenstein (born August 11, 1949) is an American billionaire businessman. A former government official and lawyer, he is a co-founder and co-executive chairman of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group,[ a global private equity investment company based in Washington, D.C. He is […]

What I’ve been reading on Ireland

1. Susan McKay, Northern Protestants on Shifting Ground, and also Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People.  These two books straddle a journalistic and anthropological approach to what the titles indicate.  As one Protestant in the text remarked, Irish reunification would work just fine, it is the ten years getting there that everyone is afraid of.  It […]

Covid markets in everything

A pastor is encouraging people to donate to his Tulsa church so they can become an online member and get his signature on a religious exemption from coronavirus vaccine mandates. The pastor, Jackson Lahmeyer, is a 29-year-old small-business owner running in the Republican primary challenge to Sen. James Lankford in 2022. Lahmeyer, who leads Sheridan […]

My January 2020 Bloomberg column on Covid

I thought this one worthy of a redux, here are a few segments: First, most emergency rooms are not equipped to handle a very high volume of cases, especially infectious diseases…The general economic problem is that emergency rooms typically are not equipped with full surge capacity, nor are there enough emergency room add-ons or substitutes […]

Covid and intertemporal substitution

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit: Before the vaccines came along, it made great sense to enforce masking norms. If infections could be shifted into the future, an eventually vaccinated citizenry would be much better protected. There is a less obvious corollary: Those same mask norms make less […]

Understanding the onset of hot streaks in careers

By Lu Liu,, in Nature: Across a range of creative domains, individual careers are characterized by hot streaks, which are bursts of high-impact works clustered together in close succession. Yet it remains unclear if there are any regularities underlying the beginning of hot streaks. Here, we analyze career histories of artists, film directors, and […]

Derry notes, Northern Ireland’s second largest city

People in Derry are still talking about the 1680s…it is bad to be a “Lundy,” namely a traitor to your cause but the bar here has become a high one.  You are either with them or against them. The 17th century city wall seems fully intact, the buildings are splendid, and the green, wet, and […]

Why I am reluctant to endorse preschool

A few of you asked for follow-ups, given my discussion with Ezra Klein.  Here is one paper that makes me skeptical: Exploiting admission thresholds in a Regression Discontinuity Design, we study the causal effects of daycare at age 0–2 on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes at age 8–14. One additional month in daycare reduces IQ by […]

Immigration to the U.S. is correlated with quite high life expectancy

We find that immigration increases US life expectancy by 1.5 years for men and 1.4 years for women. Over half of these contributions occur at the prime working ages of 25–64. The difference between foreign-born and US-born mortality has grown substantially since 1990, with the ratio of US-born to foreign-born mortality rates nearly doubling by […]

Yet another underreported medical scandal — the overmedicated elderly

“Add Dx of schizophrenia for use of Haldol,” read the doctor’s order, using the medical shorthand for “diagnosis.” But there was no evidence that Mr. Blakeney actually had schizophrenia. Antipsychotic drugs — which for decades have faced criticism as “chemical straitjackets” — are dangerous for older people with dementia, nearly doubling their chance of death from heart problems, […]

Why are American talk shows so much worse than British ones?

Sam Enright emails me: My girlfriend is American, and she’s been struck by how the UK panel shows – QI, Would I Lie to You, 8 Out of 10 Cats – are so much better than the American ones, and play to the lowest common denominator less. There don’t seem to be a lot of panel shows […]