Listened to Behavioral Economics When Psychology and Economics Collide, Lecture 2: The Rise of Behavioral Economics from Great Courses
Grasp how behavioral economics uses methods from both economics and psychology to better understand biases and anomalies in decision making—factors that “rational choice” models don’t explain. Learn three core experimental principles of behavioral economics, and about Prospect Theory, which helps explain what human beings value.
8% done; Finished lecture 2
Still some overview and basic intro. Hope it picks up soon.
Listened to Behavioral Economics When Psychology and Economics Collide — Lecture 1: What Is a Good Decision? by Scott HuettelScott Huettel from The Great Courses
Begin by examining “rational choice” models of decision making from traditional economics, which assume consistent, foresighted, and self-interested decision makers. Then consider how this concept fails to explain many human decisions that appear counterintuitive or paradoxical. Identify two fundamental limitations that challenge our decision-making process.
4% done; Finished Lecture 1
Fairly facile introduction from my perspective. Didn’t learn anything new here.
Read Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale (nytimes.com)
Its decision to carry on in the face of the pandemic has yielded a surge of deaths without sparing its economy from damage — a red flag as the United States and Britain move to lift lockdowns.
Interesting to watch these mini-experiments being run out in real-time.
Read The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi CoatesTa-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic)
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
I’m both glad and terribly sad to see this six year old article trending in the top 10 articles in The Atlantic right now.

I’m reading it for the reasons that most may be. I’m also specifically reading it (in the dead dark of night) in commemoration of of the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre today.

We definitely need to start a broader discussion about our social and moral conundrum or we’re doomed to continue the same stupid cycle we’ve been experiencing for centuries now. We’re America. We’re better and smarter than this.

This was definitely a long read, so for those who may not have the time, there’s an audio/podcast version you can listen to:


debt peonage 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peon

Annotated on May 31, 2020 at 11:51PM

In Cold War America, homeownership was seen as a means of instilling patriotism, and as a civilizing and anti-radical force. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist,” claimed William Levitt, who pioneered the modern suburb with the development of the various Levittowns, his famous planned communities. “He has too much to do.”But the Levittowns were, with Levitt’s willing acquiescence, segregated throughout their early years. 

I’d never heard of the background of these Levittowns, but I’m not super surprised to recall that Bill O’Reilly’s family apparently moved to Levittown, Long Island in 1951. It explains a missing piece I had in his background.

Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 12:53AM

But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders. 

Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 01:46AM

Annotated An Open Letter to Marc Andreessen and Rap Genius by dwhly dwhly (Hypothesis)
The lessons of Twitter and Facebook, other Internet-scale basic service layers that most of us use, are instructive here. After the honeymoon period is over, and disruptive returns need to be generated to pay off limited partners or satisfy public shareholders, the tensions that these monetization efforts create ultimately seem to separate the motivations of management from those of users and the broader ecosystem. How will Rap Genius–and Marc Andreessen–navigate these questions? 
This is probably the question of the past two decades which many companies are only beginning to realize.

Watched Thinking Historically: A Guide to Statecraft and Strategy from YouTube

Francis Gavin, the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural Director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS, argues that history can be employed to better understand and improve statecraft and strategy. It is not a history of a particular event, person, place, or process. Nor is it strictly a discussion about methodology, or how to do historical work effectively. Instead, he explores something he calls “historical sensibility.” Visit www.jhu.edu/hopkinsathome/ to see more lectures.

What a fascinating lecture with some questions and answers. I managed to catch it among many others in the JHU YouTube feed, but I’ll have to take a look at some of their other upcoming programs. 

There’s a lot of hope subtly hiding in this lecture.

I’m hoping that even once the crisis of the pandemic is over that Johns Hopkins will realize what an awesome program this is and continue it on afterwards. It manages to put together the ideas of blogging, vlogging, thought pieces in magazines, academic lectures, and even the idea of Public Television programming into an interesting and engaging format. I like that there are some fascinating broad ideas and themes to delve into. 

The broader themes of historical sensibility, chronological proportionality, and historical revisionism deserve a lot more attention and thought.

See also my wiki notes from the lecture.

Read The master tapes by Robin Sloan (Robin Sloan)
“What do I miss” is the wrong question, because the feeling isn’t an absence, but a presence.

If running your own website is like operating a nuclear reactor, then, yes: let’s give up on that. But what if it’s more like cooking dinner at home? That’s an activity that many people find challenging and/or intimidating, one with all sorts of social and economic ~encumbrances~, but even so, who would argue that it’s inappropriate to hope more people might learn to cook for themselves?
Maybe, after everything, we’ve actually ended up in a healthy place. Maybe the great gluey Katamari ball of technology has served us well. In 2020, you can, using nothing but the free app provided by Instagram, publish something very close to a multimedia magazine. Or, sitting at your laptop, you can produce a lightning-fast website all by yourself, every line of code calibrated just so, and host its files at a domain of your choosing. Or! You can do something in between, using a service like WordPress or Squarespace. This is not a bad range of options! 

There’s something between the lines here that feels like it’s closer to what the idea of IndieWeb Generations should really become. Perhaps it’s the case that when even a small handful of larger competitors like micro.blog exist it will force the larger corporate silos to come into line (they’ll lose out on market share and need to offer better service) and be more IndieWeb-like over time?
Annotated on March 21, 2020 at 11:34PM

Whether their scenario is a historical reenactment (albeit with higher-res images) or a seductive counterfactual, I don’t know. Whether it “matters,” I don’t know. I do know that I am enjoying my fraidy-follows, their slow pulse—people really are blogging, doing the dang thing—and the feeling of an old instinct waking up. 

Annotated on March 21, 2020 at 11:36PM

Watched "Dirty Money" The Wagon Wheel from Netflix
Directed by Dan Krauss. Wells Fargo was long seen as the 'golden child' of banking. But former employees detail the ruthless and fraudulent practices that fueled its growth.
We need better government regulation and oversite to prevent companies from doing exactly this. The fines should have been significantly worse.
Liked a tweet by Jack Wellborn (Twitter)
This is also true of IndieWeb, but the cost right now is one’s time more than it is financial cost. 
Read a tweet (Twitter)
Listened to Two Schools in Marin County by Kai Wright and Marianne McCune from The United States of Anxiety | WNYC Studios

Cover art for The United States of Anxiety Podcast

Last year, the California Attorney General held a tense press conference at a tiny elementary school in the one working class, black neighborhood of the mostly wealthy and white Marin County. His office had concluded that the local district "knowingly and intentionally" maintained a segregated school, violating the 14th amendment. He ordered them to fix it, but for local officials and families, the path forward remains unclear, as is the question: what does "equal protection" mean?

- Eric Foner is author of The Second Founding

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Marianne McCune.

Thank you Kai and Marianne. Hearing stories like this really makes me furious that we haven’t figured out how to do these things better. Having some common stories and history to help bring out our commonness certainly helps in getting us past the uncomfortableness we all must feel. Perhaps once we’re past that we might all be able to come up with solutions?

I’m reminded of endothermic chemical reactions that take a reasonably high activation energy (an input cost), but one that is worth it in the end because it raises the level of all the participants to a better and higher level in the end. When are we going to realize that doing a little bit of hard work today will help us all out in the longer run? I’m hopeful that shows like this can act as a catalyst to lower the amount of energy that gets us all to a better place.

Example of an endothermic reaction. nigerianscholars.com / CC BY-SA

This Marin county example is interesting because it is so small and involves two schools. The real trouble comes in larger communities like Pasadena, where I live, which have much larger populations where the public schools are suffering while the dozens and dozens of private schools do far better. Most people probably don’t realize it, but we’re still suffering from the heavy effects of racism and busing from the early 1970’s.

All this makes me wonder if we could apply some math (topology and statistical mechanics perhaps) to these situations to calculate a measure of equity and equality for individual areas to find a maximum of some sort that would satisfy John Rawls’ veil of ignorance in better designing and planning our communities. Perhaps the difficulty may be in doing so for more broad and dense areas that have been financially gerrymandered for generations by redlining and other problems.

I can only think about how we’re killing ourselves as individuals and as a nation. The problem seems like individual choices for smoking and our long term health care outcomes or for individual consumption and its broader effects on global warming. We’re ignoring the global maximums we could be achieving (where everyone everywhere has improved lives) in the search for personal local maximums. Most of these things are not zero sum games, but sadly we feel like they must be and actively work against both our own and our collective best interests.

Read Thomas Piketty Turns Marx on His Head by Paul Krugman (nytimes.com)
Piketty’s latest book, “Capital and Ideology,” takes a global overview to inequality and other pressing economic issues of our time.

To have, but maybe not to read. Like Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” seems to have been an “event” book that many buyers didn’t stick with; an analysis of Kindle highlights suggested that the typical reader got through only around 26 of its 700 pages. Still, Piketty was undaunted. 

Interesting use of digital highlights–determining how “read” a particular book is.
Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:02PM


Piketty, however, sees inequality as a social phenomenon, driven by human institutions. Institutional change, in turn, reflects the ideology that dominates society: “Inequality is neither economic nor technological; it is ideological and political.” 

Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:06PM


I was struck, for example, by his extensive discussion of the evolution of slavery and serfdom, which made no mention of the classic work of Evsey Domar of M.I.T., who argued that the more or less simultaneous rise of serfdom in Russia and slavery in the New World were driven by the opening of new land, which made labor scarce and would have led to rising wages in the absence of coercion. 

Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:10PM


For Piketty, rising inequality is at root a political phenomenon. The social-democratic framework that made Western societies relatively equal for a couple of generations after World War II, he argues, was dismantled, not out of necessity, but because of the rise of a “neo-proprietarian” ideology. Indeed, this is a view shared by many, though not all, economists. These days, attributing inequality mainly to the ineluctable forces of technology and globalization is out of fashion, and there is much more emphasis on factors like the decline of unions, which has a lot to do with political decisions. 

Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:11PM

Read Zocurelia - Inspiring Learners to Read and Discuss by Axel DürkopAxel Dürkop (axel-duerkop.de)
With Zocurelia you can increase the fun of reading online literature together. The browser tool shows the activity of a reading community directly in the context of the texts being read and discussed. This way learners can be motivated to participate and join the discussion - hopefully hypothetically. In this article I will explain my motivation, ideas and decisions that led to the development of Zocurelia.

For those interested in online reading groups, journal clubs, OER, open education, marginal syllabus, etc., Axel Dürkop has created quite a lovely little tool that mixes Zotero with Hypothes.is.

Using his online version (though the code is open source and it looks like I could pretty quickly host my own), it only took me a few minutes to mock up a collaborative space using an Econ Extra Credit group I’d tried to encourage. This could be quite cool, particularly if they continued the series past the first recommended textbook.

I could easily see folks like Remi Kalir using this as part of their marginal syllabus project and allowing students to recommend texts/articles for class and aggregating discussions around them.


First of all, I wanted to learn more about how to inspire learners to read. And this means for me as an educator to create a technical and social environment that is welcoming and easy to participate in.

Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 08:01PM

I want to have ways to show learners that I chose the texts for them, as I’m convinced that empathy is motivating.

I quite like this idea as a means of pedagogy.
Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 08:03PM

Read Econ Extra Credit Newsletter (view.connect.americanpublicmedia.org)
You know that $88,000 BMW 8 Series coupe that cut you off in traffic the other day? If you regarded that vehicle as a public menace, you might have been right — economically speaking. Economists regard show-offy luxury items like a high-end Bimmer (or a Maserati, Mercedes or Jag) as a “public bad.” These are items that might produce positive effects for the delighted owner but have negative external effects on the wider world: A fancy car inducing envy in others is an example of a public bad. Compare that to a public good, such as when you shovel the entire sidewalk so that everybody gets to use the path, not just you.