Occasional Link Round-Up: D.C. Edition

I’m currently finishing up a whirlwind social visit to DC, so posting has been a infrequent. There have been some excellent posts in blogosphere writ large though, so I thought it was time for another link round-up!

Best of the Econ Blogopshere

  • And now I’m forced to like retail clinics a little. The Incidental Economist documents a recent positive experience with a retail health clinic and notes:

    “For strep throat, which accounted for 15 million patient visits in 2006 alone, retail clinics seem like a pretty good idea. While I still believe in the medical home and the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and continuity of care, I’m sure there are more examples of where they work as well.”

  • Chart of the day, Morgan Stanley bailout edition. Felix Salmon shows in one chart what a lender of last resort does in a crisis.
  • The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin. A long-ish piece in Wired which is a nice summary if you haven’t been following the story of Bitcoin. Also useful for thinking about what money “really” is and how important different kinds of trusts are to money’s functioning. Perhaps useful for an undergrad econ soc class.
  • At Top Colleges, Anti-Wall St. Fervor Complicates Recruiting (NYTimes Dealbook). While the thrust of the story is that Wall St. has gotten much less popular on Ivy campuses, my takeaway was this stat:

    At Harvard, only 17 percent of last year’s class planned to go into financial services after graduation, according to a survey of graduating seniors, compared with 25 percent in 2006, before the crisis.

    So, down a fair bit but.. still 17%!

  • Best of the Soc Blogosphere: Omar 2, Everyone Else 0.

  • Three ways of talking about the variables that you don’t care about. Omar of OrgTheory posted two excellent, medium-length think pieces in the last few weeks. The first concerns “control variables” and why we usually shouldn’t use that term, with interesting thoughts about different modes of thinking about what we are actually doing when we “control” for X1..Xn. In teaching a research methods course, I struggled with this language and my students’ attempts to employ it, and this post was an excellent quick summary of my frustrations.
  • One way of specifying the agency problematic. Post #2 from Omar takes on one of the most contentious debates in the history of social theory: agency vs. structure. Omar offers an interesting new take on how to define agency (as the freedom of actors to imagine a world different from the one they inhabit) that is very interesting, and highlights some of what that debate is all about. My past forays into this field are here and here.
  • Best of the PoliSci Blogosphere

  • Partisanship in Everything: Views of Godfather’s Pizza. The Monkey Cage shows how opinions of Herman Cain’s pizza company have become partisan over the course of 2011.
  • Lamentably common misunderstanding of meritocracy. Andrew Gelman has an excellent summary of the inherent tensions in meritocracy.

    I am bothered when pundits such as Zingales set up a self-contradictory ideal which conflates accidents of birth, talent, achievement, success, riches, and power—not to mention “hard work” and “virtue.” We all know that these traits don’t always go together in the real world, but it’s also a mistake to think that they could all go together.

  • Most Shattering of My Faith in Academia

  • Annals of Interesting Peer Review Decisions. Crooked Timber reports on the efforts of two psychologists to publish a study that failed to replicate supposed ESP findings … partly on the grounds that they may have used their ESP powers to influence the results of the experiment.
  • Best of the Funnies

  • The Ryan Gosling meme has exploded. The first one I saw, which remains one of the best, was feminist Ryan Gosling. But since then we’ve had Biostatistics Ryan Gosling, Public History Ryan Gosling, Librarian Ryan Gosling, and Development Ryan Gosling, among countless others. Look for your favorite or make your own! Unfortunately, not every exemplar seems to get that the meme works best when Gosling is using jargon to say something sweet, not something pervy.
  • Tradition. xkcd plots the most popular Christmas songs by decade of release and offers this pithy theory of tradition: “An ‘American tradition’ is anything that happened to a baby boomer twice.”
  • Best Academic Advice Not Written by Fabio

  • The degree is the job: a modest proposal for the PhD. We all love Fabio’s excellent Grad School Rulz, but he’s not the only source for excellent advice on grad school. hook & eye offers this useful approach to thinking about a PhD:

    If you want to do a PhD, you should do one. But! Only under this condition: you treat it like the first job of your career.

  • Adventures in Statistical Graphics

  • 40 Years of Boxplots. Flowing Data links to an excellent, short forthcoming piece on the history of the humble boxplot, one of the few statistical graphical innovations of the last few decades to get widespread acceptance. The underlying article is recommended for at least a quick skim.
  • Correlation or Causation? A fantastic set of parody charts showing off how easy it is to make bad claims of causality with time series data. Personal favorite, “Did Avas Cause the U.S. Housing Bubble?”
  • The Internet is a Nerdy, Nerdy Place

  • Anti-Star Trek: A Theory of Posterity. Peter Frase of CUNY Sociology wrote this post a year ago, but I just saw it recently. Noting that Star Trek’s universe is a classless utopia premised on free energy and replicators, he asks, “Given the material abundance made possible by the replicator, how would it be possible to maintain a system based on money, profit, and class power?” In other words, are those conditions sufficient for eliminating capitalism? His answer is a quite convincing no. Using strong IP law, corporations could maintain a new form of capitalism. Highly recommended and relevant to contemporary debates.
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    1 Comment

    1. Wally

       /  December 11, 2011

      Now that you are doing excellent link roundups, maybe I can interest you in a daily “morning reads” email for us loyal readers!

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