Readings for August 2018


How Smart Speakers are Changing the Way We Listen to Music

What I Learned Road Tripping Across North America With One of Those Giant CD Binders

A couple of nice pieces of music writing that focus on our relation with music rather the music itself.


Here’s why developers only seem to build luxury housing: Maybe the best explainer I’ve seen yet on why we should treat housing as a normal market, and hence why the best response to housing shortage is to relax supply constraints.

Coalitional Instincts: The past several years have seen increasing attention drawn to the importance of groups in human action; rather than simply being noise on the margins of decision, group identity seems to have important macro consequences. Just one more quick article in this literature.

Inadequate Equilibria vs Governance of the Commons: A book review; I need to fully digest but seems to be some very interesting stuff in here.

Are Ethical Asymmetries from Property Rights?: Property rights get a lot of attention in economics as a human institution (see the articles on Demsetz), but less explored is the source of this system. Is it a construction of the rational mind and totally independent of human instinct, or are property rights a deep part of our biological heritage? Can an instinct for tradeable property rights explain the secret of our success vs our primate cousins?

Can Economists and Humanists Ever Be Friends?: Recommended only as practice for critical reading.

Why Sexism and Racism Never Diminish: Alex Tabarrok demonstrates that some phenomena can persist even as their absolute levels in society drop.

Invisible Asymptotes: An analysis of social media/new tech business models from a writer with experience working at Amazon, with general applicability to how firms work in the real world. Highly intelligent.

Science and Math

Evidence for Modified Gravity is Now Evidence Against It: I’m not in any position to judge here, but I’ve had a lifelong love of physics so I’m always keen to read such things. As in economics, there is the vexing issue of how to relate your theory to reality. Does the fact that reality behaves very closely to your model make it in any sense true?

A Number Theorist Who Bridges Math and Time: There’s a good story in here not just of the interesting math itself, but of how intellectual discovery happens.

What is it like to understand advanced mathematics?: From Quora.

The Carpeted Dunes of Oregon’s Central Coast: The Principle of Unintended Consequences: Shocks to complex systems have unforeseen outcomes. What are the analogies to an economy?


The Philosophy of Computational Complexity: Some discussion on the possible computational structures of the universe that results from different answers to the P=NP problem.


Thematic Maps of the 2016 Election: I love maps, this is a nice repository of different visualizations of the last presidential election.




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