Print Story Running In the Street, At a Tilt And Tinted Blue
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 12:48:37 PM EST) Reading, Economics, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Whispers Underground". Random thought on economics. Links.

What I'm Reading
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch. Latest book in what was the "Rivers of London" series and now seems to be called the "Peter Grant" series, about a magic-using London policeman. Quite similar to the Dresden Files books.

I liked this one a lot. Not hugely original, but well done, with a good mix of humour and action, and a few interesting bits of London lore. It's refreshingly non-apocalyptic, especially after the last few Dresden Files and Laundry books: you don't need to threaten the world every time.

Definitely worth reading if you like the series. Fairly accessible to newcomers but might be worth picking up the series from the start.

Random thought on economics
It seems to me that the US has, basically by accident, had an ideal response to the Great Recession.

The difference about the current Great Recession is that worldwide, it has dragged on much longer than previous recessions. The logical initial response to the Great Recession was to treat it like previous recessions. Provide a short, intense, debt-funded stimulus; in the expectation that in the subsequent boom increased taxes and lower spending can be used to repay that debt.

However, those nations that tried that in the Great Recession hit the problem: what do you do when the recession continues for years? Some have tried austerity: attempt to pay back the debt with lower spending and higher taxes despite the continuing recession. That hits the problem of the austerity curve: the additional shock to growth and tax receipts means that you can actually increase the debt by trying to do it that way.

The US though, was extraordinary lucky that the Great Recession has taken place at time of partisan political gridlock.

As Paul Krugman pointed out, the initial US stimulus seemed much too small for the depth of the initial recession. This meant when it dragged on, they hadn't racked up a large stimulus-related debt that they really needed to pay back.

More importantly, while many in the US would like an austerity programme, they haven't had one. Austerity has an understandable appeal: like slamming on the brakes while driving on an icy road, it's the correct instinct in familiar circumstances, which is nonetheless counterproductive in certain situations. Because of the US political gridlock, instead of austerity they have continued to run a modest deficit throughout the long recession.

Apparently unintentionally, the US has responded to the prolonged recession with a prolonged, low intensity stimulus. Nobody planned it, it just happened.

The result is, that by not stifling growth with austerity, they've reduced their overall debt by almost as much as the UK, without having to resort to devastating cuts to public services.

It seems the dead hand of the Founding Fathers has somehow done it again. I wonder if Benjamin Franklin has a holo-recording in a Time Vault somewhere...

Socioeconomics. Even if it crashes, Bitcoin may make a dent in the financial world. Why Are People Changing Their Minds about Same-Sex Marriage? Too much sociology

Pics. Fictional futuristic user interfaces. Movie Poster cliches. Reasons my son is crying. New from B3ta Industries. Recycled movie costumes.

Politics. Illusion of meritocracy. Independent Scotland not automatically in Nato. Supporters of Eweida ruling get what they asked for. Tony Blair: Labour must search for answers and not merely aspire to be a repository for people’s anger

The paradox of the financial crisis is that, despite being widely held to have been caused by under-regulated markets, it has not brought a decisive shift to the left. But what might happen is that the left believes such a shift has occurred and behaves accordingly.

Thatcher. This is a state funeral, and that’s a mistake. Dispelling the myths, Thatcher's Legend. Did Thatcher break the trade unions? Thatcher's good. The success she brought the Conservatives also sowed the seeds of failure. The moderate. A national catastrophe that still poisons us. Media bias. An obituary from below.

Sci/Tech. Turkish Power Ship one of a generation of floating power stations. The Measles League, a cautionary tale. Microsoft Hastens Demise Of PC Era With Windows 8 The rise of pseudo-academia.

Video. Back to the Camera supercut. How animals eat their food.

Articles. Who owns the political soul of science fiction? How we made Knightmare, via. Steak. Teaching philosophy in prison. Why Linda Nagata self-publishes now. Alasdair Roberts inspired by Iain Banks.

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Running In the Street, At a Tilt And Tinted Blue | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
I like your US theory by LoppEar (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 04:16:17 PM EST
I probably haven't noted how, living in downtown Philadelphia, almost everything seems to be "Ben Franklin started" this and "Ben Franklin, first in America" that here. Zombie Holo Ben Franklin is very much part of my life here, and once again gets the credit for this. :)

None of the libraries here have Excession available to me, paper or ebook, and it's about the only Culture I haven't read, and the one that everyone keeps mentioning having read/re-read.

other candidates by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 04:37:33 PM EST
The US economy is usually credited to Alexander Hamilton, but Franklin was at the Constitutional Convention that established all that gridlock (well, it did once Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson established the two party political system).


[ Parent ]
On links: by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 05:24:55 PM EST
Reasons my son is crying: "We wouldn’t let him drink whiskey." (I think he has been crying for this reason alone the whole time).

Independent Scotland in NATO: They're Scots. In the event of a war they will be there. Having them in NATO hopefully means more Scots on the NATO side than not.

Daily Fail Theocrats: North Carolina is at it again. Try to keep up.

Demise of PC due to Win8: Windows 8 tries its best to eliminate the strongest feature of the PC: the extra large screen. Why use a PC if it won't put any more information on the screen as a tablet?

Pay (more) to publish articles (the dark side of open access): I seriously question if the publications listed are "Open Access". They want to stay in the dark, not advertise the quality of things that meet their review.


Peter Grant by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 02:46:09 AM EST
Waaaay less angst than Dresden. I like both but differently. Would like more Nightingale backstory though.

True by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 05:23:28 AM EST
But Dresden Files wasn't too angsty at this stage in the series either, the third book was still pretty light IIRC.

I like the way Jim Butcher has changed the tone, hopefully he'll bring the whole series to a good conclusion as he did with Codex Alera. Suspect Rivers of London will take the same sort of path, or it would get pretty stale after a while.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Too much sociology... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:31:11 AM EST
This article appears to conflate the impact of economics with that of sociology. Of course there is overlap, but it seems a stretch to accord sociology a "dominant position in the marketplace of ideas"  when half the examples come out of economics thinking...

Is the division really that clear? by lm (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 02:10:42 PM EST
I've not really read all that much sociology proper but it seems to me that all of economics would be a specialized subset of sociology proper.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Well, you can draw the line... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:26:59 AM EST
where you like, but it seems to me that you don't get to pontificate about English majors quoting Bourdieu if you're really talking about the effects of Hayek et al.

[ Parent ]
Not trained in either by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:33:31 AM EST
But it seems to me most of the similarity you're seeing comes from using individual selfishness as an assumption. It's pretty powerful as a technique.

Economic analysis of organisations isn't great though, or of how terms change as the groups using the concept change. I got the impression most economics treats them as a black box. Like the role of good institutions becomes a causal arrow going into something called Institutions and another one coming out to a box called GDP. Which is fine, actually, as a model.

Sociology is more about opening the box and saying "oh the literary canon wars of the nineties reflect new power relations for women and non-white races among the traditionally white male elite" ... You can use economic data to frame that insight but you have to be familiar with the humanistic debate and demographic analysis as well.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
I wasn't talking about the abstract... by Metatone (4.00 / 2) #10 Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:39:36 PM EST
as much as the article in question.

If anything these days I'm much more of a sociologist than anything else, so I'm not out to big up economics, but I am involved in efforts to create an accurate history of the ideas in play in our culture (what the article calls "marketplace of ideas" - but that's a loaded term). You are correct that the roots live with the concept of individuals as utilitarians, etc. But my point would be that economics/pop economics has done much more to bring those ideas into the mainstream than sociology.

Further, outside the walls of nplusonemag, fewer people are really familiar with sociology than n+1 think and even fewer of those people are big influencers on our culture. (Stepping away from the recursion that claims that pulls in just about everything as sociology, which isn't necessarily wrong, but sometimes some granularity is useful...)

[ Parent ]
Funny you should bring up Hayek by lm (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:45:23 PM EST
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't he one of the thinkers that argued that economics as a field cannot be reduced to purely quantitative methods and, therefore, needs to be be combined with something akin to the critical methods of sociology?

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Does it matter that... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:53:02 PM EST
he didn't practise what he preached? I suppose not.

As I said, you can make most parts of the humanities part of sociology if you want to, but the article had a particular set of targets in mind (note references to Eng Lit, Bourdieu, Foucault, etc.) and those targets have less demonstrated influence than others.

To refine that, there's a lineage from Bentham and Mill down to Hayek and a different branch (Weber/Wittgenstein) brings you to Bourdieu and Foucault. They say some similar things, but coming from different places have different aims/emphases and lead to different kinds of philosophies. And our world looks a lot more like it has been influenced by the first branch than the second. So yanking the chain about the second feels a bit misleading.

[ Parent ]
Running In the Street, At a Tilt And Tinted Blue | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)