John Oliver on the Zimmerman trial

by kucheka on July 17, 2013

“Because – let’s be clear here – according to current Florida law, you can get a gun, follow an unarmed minor, call the police, have them explicitly tell you to stop following him, then choose to ignore that, keep following the minor, get into a confrontation with him and if at any point during that process you get scared, you can shoot the minor to death and the state of Florida will say, ‘Well, look, you did what you could.’”


Hypocrisy and redemption

by kucheka on July 6, 2013

From Krugman’s July 4th column. Good point.

Of course, our democratic ideal has always been accompanied by enormous hypocrisy, starting with the many founding fathers who espoused the rights of man, then went back to enjoying the fruits of slave labor. Today’s America is a place where everyone claims to support equality of opportunity, yet we are, objectively, the most class-ridden nation in the Western world — the country where children of the wealthy are most likely to inherit their parents’ status. It’s also a place where everyone celebrates the right to vote, yet many politicians work hard to disenfranchise the poor and nonwhite.

But that very hypocrisy is, in a way, a good sign. The wealthy may defend their privileges, but given the temper of America, they have to pretend that they’re doing no such thing. The block-the-vote people know what they’re doing, but they also know that they mustn’t say it in so many words. In effect, both groups know that the nation will view them as un-American unless they pay at least lip service to democratic ideals — and in that fact lies the hope of redemption.

“Hypocrisie est un hommage que la vice rend à la vertu.”

– François de La Rochefoucauld


The Weight

by kucheka on July 6, 2013


Krugman’s Crib Sheet

by kucheka on July 6, 2013


I suddenly realized the remarkable extent to which the methodology of economics creates blind spots. We just don’t see what we can’t formalize. And the biggest blind spot of all has involved increasing returns. So there, right at hand, was my mission: to look at things from a slightly different angle, and in so doing to reveal the obvious, things that had been right under our noses all the time…

…Eventually I realized that one way to deal with a difficult problem is to change the question — in particular by shifting levels. A detailed analysis may be extremely nasty, yet an aggregative or systemic description that is far easier may tell you all you need to know.

…What I began to realize was that in economics we are always making silly assumptions; it’s just that some of them have been made so often that they come to seem natural. And so one should not reject a model as silly until one sees where its assumptions lead.

…Doing geography is hard work; it requires a lot of hard thinking to make the models look trivial, and I am increasingly finding that I need the computer as an aid not just to data analysis but even to theorizing. Yet it is immensely rewarding. For me, the biggest thrill in theory is the moment when your model tells you something that should have been obvious all along, something that you can immediately relate to what you know about the world, and yet which you didn’t really appreciate. Geography still has that thrill.

In the course of describing my formative moment in 1978, I have already implicitly given my four basic rules for research:

1. Listen to the Gentiles

2. Question the question

3. Dare to be silly

4. Simplify, simplify [click to continue…]


Happy People

by kucheka on July 4, 2013

Mad axe skillz.



by kucheka on July 3, 2013

Good thing to have on hand, I guess…


Bidder 70

by kucheka on July 2, 2013

No idea if the film is any good, but I’ve always appreciated DeChristopher’s humility.


Obama grows hawk wings

by kucheka on June 27, 2013


As long as I live I’ll hear the birds and the winds and the waterfalls sing. I’ll interpret the rocks and learn the language of flood and storm and avalanche. I’ll make the acquaintance of the wild gardens and the glaciers and get as near to the heart of this world as I could. And so I did. I sauntered about from rock to rock, from grove to grove, from stream to stream, and whenever I met a new plant I would sit down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance, hear what it had to tell. I asked the boulders where they had been and whither they were going, and when night found me, there I camped. I took no more heed to save time or to make haste than did the trees or the stars. This is true freedom, a good, practical sort of immortality.

– John Muir, 1911


San Francisco, Muir, and Hetch Hetchy

by kucheka on June 24, 2013


Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded…

The few promoters of the present scheme are not unknown around the boundaries of the Park, for some of them have been trying to break through for years. However able they may be as capitalists, engineers, lawyers, or even philanthropists, none of the statements they have made descriptive of Hetch-Hetchy dammed or undammed is true. but they all show forth the proud sort of confidence that comes of a good, sound, substantial, irrefragable ignorance.

– John Muir, 1908