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Economists in Public: Hide Your Shame

Economists tend to present themselves as impartial arbiters of truth, as people who are reporting only how the market works, rather than making judgments as to why it works, or how it should work. This view is, at best, self-delusion. At worst, it’s a lie that kills people. What prompted this post was giving a thorough read to Brad DeLong’s _The Public Square and Economists. _It’s an excellent paper that offers a solid overview of what economists, at their best, have to tell us:

Bruenighazi, Harassment, and Twitter Hell

What does it mean when someone gets fired for what they say on the Internet? Is it justice, or mob rule? Are online arguments debates, or harassment? To what extent do gender, class, and race matter when it comes to these issues? This political season has seen its share of ugly behavior. For as long as Donald Trump has had his hat in the ring as a Republican primary contender–and now the presumptive nominee–that behavior has been front and center.

Prisons Must Go

Kathryn Watterson’s Women in Prison: Inside the Concrete Womb had been on my reading list for a while. Having just finished it, I am more convinced than ever that our prison system, as it exists now, is inhumane and criminal. It must be abolished. This book was first published in 1973, and updated in 1996. What is perhaps the most telling is how little changed in the prison system between those years, and how little has changed in the 20 years since.

Practical Graph Theory

Graph theory. Maybe you’ve heard of it before. Or maybe you haven’t. If you already know what it is, you won’t learn anything new here. But if you’re unfamiliar, prepare to be informed! Like many terms used in mathematics and computer science, “graph theory” might sound obtuse and impenetrable. In fact, most of us deal with applications of graph theory on a daily basis. Do you use social media like Twitter or Facebook?

Apologizing for Hiroshima

With President Obama’s historic visit to Japan, the topic of whether he should formally apologize for the United States dropping nuclear bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has come up. Obama has said he won’t apologize. But why? The President’s official explanation rings hollow: In an interview with Japanese national broadcaster NHK, Obama said the reality is that leaders often have to make hard choices during times of conflict and no apologies would be included in brief remarks he is expected to make in the western Japanese city.

Of Links Broken and Unbroken

This site has a lot of links on it. Sometimes, some of them break. What a disaster. I would have no idea which links are broken without either manually checking all of them or using a plugin that automates it. I’m sure you can guess which option I choose. I use Broken Link Checker, which is both simple and very effective. Finding broken links is one thing–doing something about them is another matter, and it wasn’t something I’d thought much about until I decided to find out which links has broken.

Link Roundup: May 21, 2016

Another week’s worth of links for your consumption. Enjoy! Politics * [Bernie Sanders, eyeing convention, willing to harm Hillary Clinton in the homestretch]( -- I don't see this as that big a deal, personally. He has enough support that he should have influence over the convention platform. * [Eyewitness: "Wire" star Wendell Pierce went crazy in hotel fight]( -- I can understand people disagreeing with one another over which politicians they support, but coming to blows is totally unacceptable, no matter who you are.

Business Models for Online Content

Do you pay for what you read online? Probably not. But the market is evolving, and we’re in for an interesting future. People have been trying to monetize online content for as long as the Internet has been commercial. In the early years of the World Wide Web (and several years before), Internet service providers offered unique content–news, games, and other information–that couldn’t be found on their competitors’ services. That was how services like Prodigy, America On-Line, and others differentiated themselves.

Moderates are not the Enemy

With both major American political parties offering fringe candidates this election season, let’s look at the relationship between those fringes and the so-called moderates who are said to represent most of the country. First, we have to know what we’re talking about. The reality is that most Americans are not moderate–that is to say, not politically centrist–even limiting ourselves to the American political spectrum. For one, most people may consider themselves “moderate” while holding decidedly partisan positions, even extreme ones.

Stellaris: Slavery and Racism in Space

Ethics in video games (not to be confused withethics in video game journalism) is a favorite topic of mine. Given my recent interest (“obsession,” if you prefer) in the 4X strategy game Stellaris, it’s an area whose time has come to revisit. Starting with the basics: if you don’t know what a 4X game is, it is a type of strategy game, so called because of the four main activities that characterize such games–eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate.