Bruce Bartlett Goes Rogue

This is surprisingly lucid TV from Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan/Bush official. When did he go rogue?

The 1930s, and Worse

Good msing from Paul Mason of BBC on how we make things worse from here:

So then, in the absence of decisive policy action, you get a sequence that goes: crash (2008); stimulus (2009); failure of stimulus (2011); second crash (2011/12); deflation; involuntary collapse of globalisation. In that situation, which I profoundly hope does not happen, every government becomes like the Brüning administration in Germany after 1931, still trying to make the old policy work in the new world, increasingly resorting to decree.

via BBC News – Thinking outside the 1930s box.

Twitter Digest: 2011-10-06

Thiel: The End of the Future

Peter Thiel waxing dystopic:

The state of true science is the key to knowing whether something is truly rotten in the United States. But any such assessment encounters an immediate and almost insuperable challenge. Who can speak about the true health of the ever-expanding universe of human knowledge, given how complex, esoteric, and specialized the many scientific and technological fields have become? When any given field takes half a lifetime of study to master, who can compare and contrast and properly weight the rate of progress in nanotechnology and cryptography and superstring theory and 610 other disciplines? Indeed, how do we even know whether the so-called scientists are not just lawmakers and politicians in disguise, as some conservatives suspect in fields as disparate as climate change, evolutionary biology, and embryonic-stem-cell research, and as I have come to suspect in almost all fields? For now, let us acknowledge this measurement problem — I will return to it later — but not let it stop our inquiry into modernity before it has even begun.


When tracked against the admittedly lofty hopes of the 1950s and 1960s, technological progress has fallen short in many domains. Consider the most literal instance of non-acceleration: We are no longer moving faster. The centuries-long acceleration of travel speeds — from ever-faster sailing ships in the 16th through 18th centuries, to the advent of ever-faster railroads in the 19th century, and ever-faster cars and airplanes in the 20th century — reversed with the decommissioning of the Concorde in 2003, to say nothing of the nightmarish delays caused by strikingly low-tech post-9/11 airport-security systems. Today’s advocates of space jets, lunar vacations, and the manned exploration of the solar system appear to hail from another planet. A faded 1964 Popular Science cover story — “Who’ll Fly You at 2,000 m.p.h.?” — barely recalls the dreams of a bygone age.

via The End of the Future – National Review Online.

Prevalence of Deception in Humans: Evidence from Diving Behaviour in Soccer Players

New paper on a natural experiment in human deceiptfulness: Soccers dives and referee proximity.

Receivers Limit the Prevalence of Deception in Humans: Evidence from Diving Behaviour in Soccer Players

Deception remains a hotly debated topic in evolutionary and behavioural research. Our understanding of what impedes or facilitates the use and detection of deceptive signals in humans is still largely limited to studies of verbal deception under laboratory conditions. Recent theoretical models of non-human behaviour have suggested that the potential outcome for deceivers and the ability of receivers to discriminate signals can effectively maintain their honesty. In this paper, we empirically test these predictions in a real-world case of human deception, simulation in soccer. In support of theoretical predictions in signalling theory, we show that cost-free deceit by soccer players decreases as the potential outcome for the signaller becomes more costly. We further show that the ability of receivers (referees) to detect deceptive signals may limit the prevalence of deception by soccer players. Our study provides empirical support to recent theoretical models in signalling theory, and identifies conditions that may facilitate human deception and hinder its detection.

via PLoS ONE: Receivers Limit the Prevalence of Deception in Humans: Evidence from Diving Behaviour in Soccer Players.

Polarization and U.S. Fiscal Reforms

Good piece by Michael Cembalest on the prospects for fiscal reform under the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction . He worries, quite rightly, about record political polarization in the U.S., as evidenced by the following graphs.


The 30-Year Touches 4%

The U.S. 30-year mortgage is touching 4%, according to Bankrate.

30 year

Twitter Digest: 2011-10-05

Steve Jobs

Heartbreaking news tonight about Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Words are entirely and perilously inadequate.

Statement by Apple’s Board of Directors

CUPERTINO, Calif., Oct 05, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.


via Statement by Apple’s Board of Directors – MarketWatch.

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Refuting Dan Yergin

My friends Gregor Macdonald and Chris Nelder counter Dan Yergin’s recent WSJ assertions about oil and the economy:

Daniel Yergin’s typically sunny outlook on oil in his recent Wall Street Journal piece, “There Will Be Oil,” suggested that technology and new energy discoveries would avert any of the economic disasters portended by peak oil. We found Mr. Yergin’s dismissal of these risks premature and repetitive. After all, he has asserted since 2004 that global oil production was nothing to worry about, and that there would be few effects on the economy.

We counter that managers who would see their businesses survive the next few decades of extreme economic volatility will need to develop some literacy about oil and its complex relationships with the economy. They would be wise to consider the long list of peak oil analyses by the world’s militaries, and they would take heed of the sobering outlook offered by veteran analyst Robert Hirsch for the Department of Energy. And we must correct some of Mr. Yergin’s assertions.

Read the full thing here: There Will Be Oil, But At What Price? – Chris Nelder and Gregor Macdonald – Harvard Business Review.