Data Firm Says ‘Secret Sauce’ Aided Trump; Many Scoff - The New York Times
What's notable about this piece is that it provides almost no information about whether their much-touted product _works_. Everything is about whether sources liked it, or used it, or thought it was effective; not who's right.
deceiving_us_has_become_an_industrial_process  data_mining  networked_life  psychometrics  factor_analysis  to_teach:data-mining 
march 2017
The Humans Working Behind the AI Curtain
This is _not_ what we mean when we talk about using computers to expand human capacities.
artificial_intelligence  machine_learning  networked_life  to_teach:data-mining 
january 2017
Stony Brook philosophy Ph.D. says his department plans review amid claims he's a neo-Nazi
From my perspective, it's a bigger disgrace for SUNY that a philosophy department passed a thesis on "those latent human capacities hitherto marginalized as ‘paranormal'".
psychoceramica  philosophy  why_oh_why_cant_we_have_a_better_intelligentsia  utter_stupidity  running_dogs_of_reaction  racism  via:?  have_read 
december 2016
‘Moneyball’ for Professors?
The key paragraph:

"Using a hand-curated data set of 54 scholars who obtained doctorates after 1995 and held assistant professorships at top-10 operations research programs in 2003 or earlier, these statistical models made different decisions than the tenure committees for 16 (30%) of the candidates. Specifically, these new criteria yielded a set of scholars who, in the future, produced more papers published in the top journals and research that was cited more often than the scholars who were actually selected by tenure committees"

--- In other words, "success" here is defined entirely through the worst sort of abuse of citation metrics, i.e., through doing the things which everyone who has seriously studied citation metrics says you should _not_ use them for. (Cf. https://arxiv.org/abs/0910.3529 .) If the objective was to making academic hiring decisions _even less_ sensitive to actually intellectual quality, one could hardly do better.
I am sure that this idea will, however, be widely adopted and go from strength to strength.
bad_data_analysis  academia  bibliometry  social_networks  network_data_analysis  prediction  utter_stupidity  have_read  via:jbdelong 
december 2016
Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere – Medium
I suspect this attributes much too much foresight to those involved.
climate_change  us_politics 
december 2016
The Defense of Liberty Can’t Do Without Identity Politics - Niskanen Center
"Political fights aren’t won with universal principled arguments alone, and pretending that they are is often a mask for the identity politics of the staatsvolk. As citizens of a liberal state trying to preserve it, we need to be able to hear each other talking about particularized injustices, and to cheer each other on when we seek to overturn them. Members of disadvantaged minorities standing up for themselves aren’t to blame for the turn to populist authoritarianism; and their energy and commitment is a resource that free societies can’t do without in resisting it."
us_politics  political_philosophy  defenses_of_liberalism  progressive_forces  levy.j.t.  have_read  via:? 
december 2016
Popular Democracy: The Paradox of Participation | Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza
"Local participation is the new democratic imperative. In the United States, three-fourths of all cities have developed opportunities for citizen involvement in strategic planning. The World Bank has invested $85 billion over the last decade to support community participation worldwide. But even as these opportunities have become more popular, many contend that they have also become less connected to actual centers of power and the jurisdictions where issues relevant to communities are decided.
"With this book, Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza consider the opportunities and challenges of democratic participation. Examining how one mechanism of participation has traveled the world—with its inception in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and spread to Europe and North America—they show how participatory instruments have become more focused on the formation of public opinion and are far less attentive to, or able to influence, actual reform. Though the current impact and benefit of participatory forms of government is far more ambiguous than its advocates would suggest, Popular Democracy concludes with suggestions of how participation could better achieve its political ideals."
to:NB  books:noted  democracy  institutions  re:democratic_cognition 
december 2016
Big Data: Does Size Matter?: Timandra Harkness: Bloomsbury Sigma
"What is Big Data, and why should you care?
"Big data knows where you've been and who your friends are. It knows what you like and what makes you angry. It can predict what you'll buy, where you'll be the victim of crime and when you'll have a heart attack. Big data knows you better than you know yourself, or so it claims.
"But how well do you know big data?
"You've probably seen the phrase in newspaper headlines, at work in a marketing meeting, or on a fitness-tracking gadget. But can you understand it without being a Silicon Valley nerd who writes computer programs for fun?
"Yes. Yes, you can.
"Timandra Harkness writes comedy, not computer code. The only programmes she makes are on the radio. If you can read a newspaper you can read this book.
"Starting with the basics – what IS data? And what makes it big? – Timandra takes you on a whirlwind tour of how people are using big data today: from science to smart cities, business to politics, self-quantification to the Internet of Things.
"Finally, she asks the big questions about where it's taking us; is it too big for its boots, or does it think too small? Are you a data point or a human being? Will this book be full of rhetorical questions?
"No. It also contains puns, asides, unlikely stories and engaging people, inspiring feats and thought-provoking dilemmas. Leaving you armed and ready to decide what you think about one of the decade's big ideas: big data."

--- As usual, the last tag is tentative.
to:NB  books:noted  data_mining  popular_social_science  via:?  to_teach:data-mining 
december 2016
Ontology, Methodological Individualism, and the Foundations of the Social Sciences
"This is a review essay based on a critical assessment of The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences by Brian Epstein. Epstein argues that models in the social sciences are inadequate because they are based on a false ontology of methodological individualism, and proposes a new model of social ontology. I examine this model and point to flaws in it. More generally, I argue against Epstein's methodological approach, which treats social ontology as prior to social scientific modeling and as certifying the "building blocks" that modelers then use. I argue that modelers can legitimately shape the building blocks for their own models."
to_read  book_reviews  social_science_methodology  emergence 
december 2016
The Crisis in Economic Theory: A Review Essay
"The Great Recession and the financial crisis of 2007-09 prompted calls for fundamental reforms of economic theory. The role of theory in economics and in recent economic events is considered in light of two recent books: the sociologist Richard Swedberg's The Art of Social Theory and the economist André Orléan's The Empire of Value: A New Foundation for Economics."
to_read  book_reviews  economics  social_science_methodology  hoover.kevin_d.  financial_crisis_of_2007-- 
december 2016
Higher-order organization of complex networks | Science
"Networks are a fundamental tool for understanding and modeling complex systems in physics, biology, neuroscience, engineering, and social science. Many networks are known to exhibit rich, lower-order connectivity patterns that can be captured at the level of individual nodes and edges. However, higher-order organization of complex networks—at the level of small network subgraphs—remains largely unknown. Here, we develop a generalized framework for clustering networks on the basis of higher-order connectivity patterns. This framework provides mathematical guarantees on the optimality of obtained clusters and scales to networks with billions of edges. The framework reveals higher-order organization in a number of networks, including information propagation units in neuronal networks and hub structure in transportation networks. Results show that networks exhibit rich higher-order organizational structures that are exposed by clustering based on higher-order connectivity patterns."

--- It sounds like this is just clustering based on vectors of motif counts, which would be very disappointing. Last tag applies.
to:NB  to_read  network_data_analysis  clustering  statistics  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
december 2016
Active Learning with Misspecified Beliefs by Drew Fudenberg , Gleb Romanyuk, Philipp Strack :: SSRN
"We study learning and information acquisition by a Bayesian agent who is misspecified in the sense that his prior belief assigns probability zero to the true state of the world. In our model, at each instant the agent takes an action and observes the corresponding payoff, which is the sum of the payoff generated by a fixed but unknown function and an additive error term. We provide a complete characterization of asymptotic actions and beliefs when the agent's subjective state space is a doubleton. A simple example with three actions shows that in a misspecified environment a myopic agent's beliefs converge while a sufficiently patient agent's beliefs do not. This shows that examples of myopic agents with non-converging beliefs in the prior literature require all myopically optimal actions to be informative, and illustrates a novel interaction between misspecification and the agent's subjective interest rate."
to:NB  statistics  bayesian_consistency  misspecification  decision_theory 
december 2016
Randomisation, Causality and the Role of Reasoned Intuition: Oxford Development Studies: Vol 42, No 4
"The method of randomisation has been a major driver in the recent rise to prominence of empirical development economics. It has helped uncover patterns and facts that had earlier escaped attention. But it has also given rise to debate and controversy. This paper evaluates the method of randomisation and concludes that while the method of randomisation is the gold standard for description, and does uncover what is here called “circumstantial causality”, it is not able to demonstrate generalised causality. Nor does it, in itself, lead to policy conclusions, as is often claimed by its advocates. To get to policy conclusions requires combining the findings of randomised experiments with human intuition, which, being founded in evolution, has innate strengths. Moreover, even non-randomised empirical methods combined with reasoned intuition can help in crafting a development policy."

--- On first skimming, my reaction is that if "reasoned intuition" could do this, we would not need systematic empirical data of any kind, in any science.
to:NB  to_read  experimental_economics  development_economics  economics  social_science_methodology  causal_inference  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  via:jbdelong 
december 2016
Comments on Economic Models, Economics and Economists: Remarks on _Economics Rules_ by Dani Rodrik
This is a very interesting review, which manages both to be generous and to expound on the reviewer's own notions. (And it speaks well of Rodrik to host it!) But it seems to me that if one accepts Rubinstein's views, one is left with no real reason to value economic theory, or even economic models in applications. That might be the correct conclusion, but it's clearly not the one Rubinstein has drawn himself, so... (Cf. http://bactra.org/reviews/modeling-bounded-rationality/)
social_science_methodology  economics  modeling  philosophy_of_science  rubinstein.ariel  rodrik.dani  via:henry_farrell  book_reviews  have_read 
december 2016
Spontaneous default network activity reflects behavioral variability independent of mind-wandering
"The brain’s default mode network (DMN) is highly active during wakeful rest when people are not overtly engaged with a sensory stimulus or externally oriented task. In multiple contexts, increased spontaneous DMN activity has been associated with self-reported episodes of mind-wandering, or thoughts that are unrelated to the present sensory environment. Mind-wandering characterizes much of waking life and is often associated with error-prone, variable behavior. However, increased spontaneous DMN activity has also been reliably associated with stable, rather than variable, behavior. We aimed to address this seeming contradiction and to test the hypothesis that single measures of attentional states, either based on self-report or on behavior, are alone insufficient to account for DMN activity fluctuations. Thus, we simultaneously measured varying levels of self-reported mind-wandering, behavioral variability, and brain activity with fMRI during a unique continuous performance task optimized for detecting attentional fluctuations. We found that even though mind-wandering co-occurred with increased behavioral variability, highest DMN signal levels were best explained by intense mind-wandering combined with stable behavior simultaneously, compared with considering either single factor alone. These brain–behavior–experience relationships were highly consistent within known DMN subsystems and across DMN subregions. In contrast, such relationships were absent or in the opposite direction for other attention-relevant networks (salience, dorsal attention, and frontoparietal control networks). Our results suggest that the cognitive processes that spontaneous DMN activity specifically reflects are only partially related to mind-wandering and include also attentional state fluctuations that are not captured by self-report."
to:NB  fmri  neural_data_analysis  functional_connectivity  neuroscience  attention 
december 2016
A Novel Algorithm for Coarse-Graining of Cellular Automata - Springer
"The coarse-graining is an approximation procedure widely used for simplification of mathematical and numerical models of multiscale systems. It reduces superfluous – microscopic – degrees of freedom. Israeli and Goldenfeld demonstrated in [1,2] that the coarse-graining can be employed for elementary cellular automata (CA), producing interesting interdependences between them. However, extending their investigation on more complex CA rules appeared to be impossible due to the high computational complexity of the coarse-graining algorithm. We demonstrate here that this complexity can be substantially decreased. It allows for scrutinizing much broader class of cellular automata in terms of their coarse graining. By using our algorithm we found out that the ratio of the numbers of elementary CAs having coarse grained representation to “degenerate” – irreducible – cellular automata, strongly increases with increasing the “grain” size of the approximation procedure. This rises principal questions about the formal limits in modeling of realistic multiscale systems."
to:NB  macro_from_micro  approximation  cellular_automata  via:? 
december 2016
Despair and Hope in Trump’s America - The Atlantic
"And now we have Donald Trump. We have small-town inland America—the culture I think of myself as being from—being credited or blamed for making a man like this the 45th in a sequence that includes Washington, Lincoln, and FDR. I view Trump’s election as the most grievous blow that the American idea has suffered in my lifetime. The Kennedy and King assassinations and the 9/11 attacks were crimes and tragedies. The wars in Vietnam and Iraq were disastrous mistakes. But the country recovered. For a democratic process to elevate a man expressing total disregard for democratic norms and institutions is worse. The American republic is based on rules but has always depended for its survival on norms—standards of behavior, conduct toward fellow citizens and especially critics and opponents that is decent beyond what the letter of the law dictates. Trump disdains them all. The American leaders I revere are sure enough of themselves to be modest, strong enough to entertain self-doubt. When I think of Republican Party civic virtues, I think of Eisenhower. But voters, or enough of them, have chosen Trump."
us_politics  trump.donald  have_read  fallows.james  whats_gone_wrong_with_america 
december 2016
Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 230601 (2016) - Interevent Correlations from Avalanches Hiding Below the Detection Threshold
"Numerous systems ranging from deformation of materials to earthquakes exhibit bursty dynamics, which consist of a sequence of events with a broad event size distribution. Very often these events are observed to be temporally correlated or clustered, evidenced by power-law-distributed waiting times separating two consecutive activity bursts. We show how such interevent correlations arise simply because of a finite detection threshold, created by the limited sensitivity of the measurement apparatus, or used to subtract background activity or noise from the activity signal. Data from crack-propagation experiments and numerical simulations of a nonequilibrium crack-line model demonstrate how thresholding leads to correlated bursts of activity by separating the avalanche events into subavalanches. The resulting temporal subavalanche correlations are well described by our general scaling description of thresholding-induced correlations in crackling noise."
to:NB  heavy_tails  point_processes  time_series 
december 2016
On computational explanations | SpringerLink
"Computational explanations focus on information processing required in specific cognitive capacities, such as perception, reasoning or decision-making. These explanations specify the nature of the information processing task, what information needs to be represented, and why it should be operated on in a particular manner. In this article, the focus is on three questions concerning the nature of computational explanations: (1) What type of explanations they are, (2) in what sense computational explanations are explanatory and (3) to what extent they involve a special, “independent” or “autonomous” level of explanation. In this paper, we defend the view computational explanations are genuine explanations, which track non-causal/formal dependencies. Specifically, we argue that they do not provide mere sketches for explanation, in contrast to what for example Piccinini and Craver ... suggest. This view of computational explanations implies some degree of “autonomy” for the computational level. However, as we will demonstrate that does not make this view “computationally chauvinistic” in a way that Piccinini ... or Kaplan ... have charged it to be."
to:NB  explanation  computation  cognitive_science 
december 2016
Assemblage Theory - Edinburgh University Press
"Manuel DeLanda provides the first detailed overview of the assemblage theory found in germ in Deleuze and Guattari’s writings. Through a series of case studies DeLanda shows how the concept can be applied to economic, linguistic and military history as well as to metaphysics, science and mathematics.
"DeLanda then presents the real power of assemblage theory by advancing it beyond its original formulation – allowing for the integration of communities, institutional organisations, cities and urban regions. And he challenges Marxist orthodoxy with a Leftist politics of assemblages."
to:NB  books:noted  barely-comprehensible_metaphysics  philosophy_of_science  emergence  delanda.manuel 
december 2016
The Comet Ping Pong Pizzagate scandal is a child sex ring myth for the age of Trump.
Query: is the spread of the Satanic ritual abuse myth in the 1980s a counter-example to worries about "fake news"? It was clearly _possible_ for just this sort of conspiracy theory to form, spread, and influence policy at a time when computer networks were a minute niche interest...
have_read  us_politics  conspiracy_theories  networked_life  moral_panics 
december 2016
Man Behind the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: The Life and Letters of Edward Fitzgerald
"Its lines and verses have become part of the western literary canon and his translation of this most famous of poems has been continuously in print in for almost a century and a half. But just who was Edward FitzGerald? Was he the eccentric recluse that most scholars would have us believe? Is there more to the man than just his famous translation? In The Man Behind the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam William Martin and Sandra Martin go beyond the standard view. Drawing on their unique analysis of the more than 2,000 surviving letters of FitzGerald, together with evidence from his scrapbooks, commonplace books and materials from his personal library, they reveal a more convivial yet complex personality than we have been led to suppose.""
to:NB  lives_of_the_artists  poetry  cultural_exchange  books:noted 
december 2016
Center for Philosophy of Science ::: other conferences ::: Hermes and the Telescope: Author Meets Critics
"A workshop on Paolo Palmieri’s just published book, Hermes and the Telescope: In the Crucible of Galileo's Life-World.
"The life and work of Galileo have stirred debates and controversies in history and philosophy of science concerning the origin and motivation of the emergence of modern science. Paolo Palmieri’s new book calls into question the positivist myth of Galileo, the founder of modern science, and interrogates the historiography that has shaped the myth since the historic publication of the monumental edition of Galileo’s works at the turn of the twentieth century.
"The book highlights the entanglement of Galileo’s natural philosophy with his private unorthodox convictions about Christian theology, Biblical hermeneutic, sexuality, and the hidden traditions of Italian heretics and libertines. Furthermore, the book articulates the philosophical, pedagogical and political implications of this new reading of one of the founding fathers of modernity for both the sciences and the humanities."
in_NB  conferences  books:noted  history_of_science  scientific_revolution  lives_of_the_scientists  galilei.galileo 
december 2016
Origins of the current seventh cholera pandemic
"Vibrio cholerae has caused seven cholera pandemics since 1817, imposing terror on much of the world, but bacterial strains are currently only available for the sixth and seventh pandemics. The El Tor biotype seventh pandemic began in 1961 in Indonesia, but did not originate directly from the classical biotype sixth-pandemic strain. Previous studies focused mainly on the spread of the seventh pandemic after 1970. Here, we analyze in unprecedented detail the origin, evolution, and transition to pandemicity of the seventh-pandemic strain. We used high-resolution comparative genomic analysis of strains collected from 1930 to 1964, covering the evolution from the first available El Tor biotype strain to the start of the seventh pandemic. We define six stages leading to the pandemic strain and reveal all key events. The seventh pandemic originated from a nonpathogenic strain in the Middle East, first observed in 1897. It subsequently underwent explosive diversification, including the spawning of the pandemic lineage. This rapid diversification suggests that, when first observed, the strain had only recently arrived in the Middle East, possibly from the Asian homeland of cholera. The lineage migrated to Makassar, Indonesia, where it gained the important virulence-associated elements Vibrio seventh pandemic island I (VSP-I), VSP-II, and El Tor type cholera toxin prophage by 1954, and it then became pandemic in 1961 after only 12 additional mutations. Our data indicate that specific niches in the Middle East and Makassar were important in generating the pandemic strain by providing gene sources and the driving forces for genetic events."
to:NB  to_read  plagues_and_peoples  epidemiology  historical_genetics 
december 2016
Multiplex social ecological network analysis reveals how social changes affect community robustness more than resource depletion
"Network analysis provides a powerful tool to analyze complex influences of social and ecological structures on community and household dynamics. Most network studies of social–ecological systems use simple, undirected, unweighted networks. We analyze multiplex, directed, and weighted networks of subsistence food flows collected in three small indigenous communities in Arctic Alaska potentially facing substantial economic and ecological changes. Our analysis of plausible future scenarios suggests that changes to social relations and key households have greater effects on community robustness than changes to specific wild food resources."

--- See if analysis is interesting enough, and data sets are available, for use in a future version of the networks class?
to:NB  network_data_analysis  social_networks  anthropology  ecology  to_teach:baby-nets 
december 2016
Effect of holding office on the behavior of politicians
"Reciprocity is central to our understanding of politics. Most political exchanges—whether they involve legislative vote trading, interbranch bargaining, constituent service, or even the corrupt exchange of public resources for private wealth—require reciprocity. But how does reciprocity arise? Do government officials learn reciprocity while holding office, or do recruitment and selection practices favor those who already adhere to a norm of reciprocity? We recruit Zambian politicians who narrowly won or lost a previous election to play behavioral games that provide a measure of reciprocity. This combination of regression discontinuity and experimental designs allows us to estimate the effect of holding office on behavior. We find that holding office increases adherence to the norm of reciprocity. This study identifies causal effects of holding office on politicians’ behavior."

--- I very much want to see a follow-up study, where Zambian economists recruit American politicians who just went through narrow elections as their experimental subjects.
to:NB  economics  experimental_economics  evolution_of_cooperation 
december 2016
Universal screening increases the representation of low-income and minority students in gifted education
"Low-income and minority students are substantially underrepresented in gifted education programs. The disparities persist despite efforts by many states and school districts to broaden participation through changes in their eligibility criteria. One explanation for the persistent gap is that standard processes for identifying gifted students, which are based largely on the referrals of parents and teachers, tend to miss qualified students from underrepresented groups. We study this hypothesis using the experiences of a large urban school district following the introduction of a universal screening program for second graders. Without any changes in the standards for gifted eligibility, the screening program led to large increases in the fractions of economically disadvantaged and minority students placed in gifted programs. Comparisons of the newly identified gifted students with those who would have been placed in the absence of screening show that Blacks and Hispanics, free/reduced price lunch participants, English language learners, and girls were all systematically “underreferred” in the traditional parent/teacher referral system. Our findings suggest that parents and teachers often fail to recognize the potential of poor and minority students and those with limited English proficiency."
to:NB  education  inequality  mental_testing  class_struggles_in_america 
december 2016
Phylogenetic approach to the evolution of color term systems
"The naming of colors has long been a topic of interest in the study of human culture and cognition. Color term research has asked diverse questions about thought and communication, but no previous research has used an evolutionary framework. We show that there is broad support for the most influential theory of color term development (that most strongly represented by Berlin and Kay [Berlin B, Kay P (1969) (Univ of California Press, Berkeley, CA)]); however, we find extensive evidence for the loss (as well as gain) of color terms. We find alternative trajectories of color term evolution beyond those considered in the standard theories. These results not only refine our knowledge of how humans lexicalize the color space and how the systems change over time; they illustrate the promise of phylogenetic methods within the domain of cognitive science, and they show how language change interacts with human perception."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  phylogenetics  linguistics 
december 2016
Unreasonable effectiveness of learning neural networks: From accessible states and robust ensembles to basic algorithmic schemes
"In artificial neural networks, learning from data is a computationally demanding task in which a large number of connection weights are iteratively tuned through stochastic-gradient-based heuristic processes over a cost function. It is not well understood how learning occurs in these systems, in particular how they avoid getting trapped in configurations with poor computational performance. Here, we study the difficult case of networks with discrete weights, where the optimization landscape is very rough even for simple architectures, and provide theoretical and numerical evidence of the existence of rare—but extremely dense and accessible—regions of configurations in the network weight space. We define a measure, the robust ensemble (RE), which suppresses trapping by isolated configurations and amplifies the role of these dense regions. We analytically compute the RE in some exactly solvable models and also provide a general algorithmic scheme that is straightforward to implement: define a cost function given by a sum of a finite number of replicas of the original cost function, with a constraint centering the replicas around a driving assignment. To illustrate this, we derive several powerful algorithms, ranging from Markov Chains to message passing to gradient descent processes, where the algorithms target the robust dense states, resulting in substantial improvements in performance. The weak dependence on the number of precision bits of the weights leads us to conjecture that very similar reasoning applies to more conventional neural networks. Analogous algorithmic schemes can also be applied to other optimization problems."
to:NB  learning_theory  optimization  neural_networks  non-equilibrium  stochastic_processes  borgs.christian  chayes.jennifer  to_read 
december 2016
Wind speed reductions by large-scale wind turbine deployments lower turbine efficiencies and set low generation limits
"Wind turbines generate electricity by removing kinetic energy from the atmosphere. Large numbers of wind turbines are likely to reduce wind speeds, which lowers estimates of electricity generation from what would be presumed from unaffected conditions. Here, we test how well wind power limits that account for this effect can be estimated without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. We first use simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) that explicitly simulates the effects of wind turbines to derive wind power limits (GCM estimate), and compare them to a simple approach derived from the climatological conditions without turbines [vertical kinetic energy (VKE) estimate]. On land, we find strong agreement between the VKE and GCM estimates with respect to electricity generation rates (0.32 and 0.37 We m−2) and wind speed reductions by 42 and 44%. Over ocean, the GCM estimate is about twice the VKE estimate (0.59 and 0.29 We m−2) and yet with comparable wind speed reductions (50 and 42%). We then show that this bias can be corrected by modifying the downward momentum flux to the surface. Thus, large-scale limits to wind power use can be derived from climatological conditions without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. Consistent with the GCM simulations, the approach estimates that only comparatively few land areas are suitable to generate more than 1 We m−2 of electricity and that larger deployment scales are likely to reduce the expected electricity generation rate of each turbine. We conclude that these atmospheric effects are relevant for planning the future expansion of wind power."
to:NB  physics  to_read 
december 2016
Globalization and Wage Polarization | Review of Economics and Statistics | MIT Press Journals
"In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. labor market experienced a remarkable polarization along with fast technological catch-up as Europe and Japan improved their global innovation performance. Is foreign technological convergence an important source of wage polarization? To answer this question, we build a multicountry Schumpeterian growth model with heterogeneous workers, endogenous skill formation, and occupational choice. We show that convergence produces polarization through business stealing and increasing competition in global innovation races. Quantitative analysis shows that these channels can be important sources of U.S. polarization. Moreover, the model delivers predictions on the U.S. wealth-income ratio consistent with empirical evidence."
to:NB  economics  inequality  economic_growth  globalization 
december 2016
Credit Standards and Segregation | Review of Economics and Statistics | MIT Press Journals
"This paper explores the effects of changes in lending standards on racial segregation within metropolitan areas. Such changes affect neighborhood choices as well as aggregate prices and quantities in the housing market. Using the credit boom of 2000 to 2006 as a large-scale experiment, we put forward an IV strategy that predicts the relaxation of credit standards as the result of a credit supply shock predominantly affecting liquidity-constrained banks. The relaxed lending standards led to significant outflows of whites from black and racially mixed neighborhoods. Without such a credit supply shock, black households would have had between 2.3 and 5.1 percentage points more white neighbors in 2010."

--- That doesn't sound like a lot...
to:NB  economics  mortgage_crisis  racism 
december 2016
School Accountability, Postsecondary Attainment, and Earnings | Review of Economics and Statistics | MIT Press Journals
"We study the impact of accountability pressure in Texas public high schools in the 1990s on postsecondary attainment and earnings, using administrative data from the Texas Schools Project. Schools respond to the risk of being rated Low Performing by increasing student achievement on high-stakes exams. Years later, these students are more likely to have attended college and completed a four-year degree, and they have higher earnings at age 25. However, we find no overall impact of accountability pressure to achieve a higher rating, and large negative impacts on attainment and earnings for the lowest-scoring students."
to:NB  economics  education  class_struggles_in_america 
december 2016
Preferential interactions promote blind cooperation and informed defection
"It is common sense that costs and benefits should be carefully weighed before deciding on a course of action. However, we often disapprove of people who do so, even when their actual decision benefits us. For example, we prefer people who directly agree to do us a favor over those who agree only after securing enough information to ensure that the favor will not be too costly. Why should we care about how people make their decisions, rather than just focus on the decisions themselves? Current models show that punishment of information gathering can be beneficial because it forces blind decisions, which under some circumstances enhances cooperation. Here we show that aversion to information gathering can be beneficial even in the absence of punishment, due to a different mechanism: preferential interactions with reliable partners. In a diverse population where different people have different—and unknown—preferences, those who seek additional information before agreeing to cooperate reveal that their preferences are close to the point where they would choose not to cooperate. Blind cooperators are therefore more likely to keep cooperating even if conditions change, and aversion to information gathering helps to interact preferentially with them. Conversely, blind defectors are more likely to keep defecting in the future, leading to a preference for informed defectors over blind ones. Both mechanisms—punishment to force blind decisions and preferential interactions—give qualitatively different predictions, which may enable experimental tests to disentangle them in real-world situations."
to:NB  game_theory  evolution_of_cooperation 
december 2016
Emergence of an abstract categorical code enabling the discrimination of temporally structured tactile stimuli
"The problem of neural coding in perceptual decision making revolves around two fundamental questions: (i) How are the neural representations of sensory stimuli related to perception, and (ii) what attributes of these neural responses are relevant for downstream networks, and how do they influence decision making? We studied these two questions by recording neurons in primary somatosensory (S1) and dorsal premotor (DPC) cortex while trained monkeys reported whether the temporal pattern structure of two sequential vibrotactile stimuli (of equal mean frequency) was the same or different. We found that S1 neurons coded the temporal patterns in a literal way and only during the stimulation periods and did not reflect the monkeys’ decisions. In contrast, DPC neurons coded the stimulus patterns as broader categories and signaled them during the working memory, comparison, and decision periods. These results show that the initial sensory representation is transformed into an intermediate, more abstract categorical code that combines past and present information to ultimately generate a perceptually informed choice."

--- Contributed, so who knows?
to:NB  neural_coding_and_decoding  perception  neuroscience 
december 2016
Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success, McCabe
"We all know that good study habits, supportive parents, and engaged instructors are all keys to getting good grades in college. But as Janice M. McCabe shows in this illuminating study, there is one crucial factor determining a student’s academic success that most of us tend to overlook: who they hang out with. Surveying a range of different kinds of college friendships, Connecting in College details the fascinatingly complex ways students’ social and academic lives intertwine and how students attempt to balance the two in their pursuit of straight As, good times, or both.
"As McCabe and the students she talks to show, the friendships we forge in college are deeply meaningful, more meaningful than we often give them credit for. They can also vary widely. Some students have only one tight-knit group, others move between several, and still others seem to meet someone new every day. Some students separate their social and academic lives, while others rely on friendships to help them do better in their coursework. McCabe explores how these dynamics lead to different outcomes and how they both influence and are influenced by larger factors such as social and racial inequality. She then looks toward the future and how college friendships affect early adulthood, ultimately drawing her findings into a set of concrete solutions to improve student experiences and better guarantee success in college and beyond."
to:NB  books:noted  academia  education  social_networks  re:homophily_and_confounding 
december 2016
Medieval Islamic Maps: An Exploration, Pinto
"Hundreds of exceptional cartographic images are scattered throughout medieval and early modern Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscript collections. The plethora of copies created around the Islamic world over the course of eight centuries testifies to the enduring importance of these medieval visions for the Muslim cartographic imagination. With Medieval Islamic Maps, historian Karen C. Pinto brings us the first in-depth exploration of medieval Islamic cartography from the mid-tenth to the nineteenth century.
"Pinto focuses on the distinct tradition of maps known collectively as the Book of Roads and Kingdoms (Kitab al-Masalik wa al-Mamalik, or KMMS), examining them from three distinct angles—iconography, context, and patronage. She untangles the history of the KMMS maps, traces their inception and evolution, and analyzes them to reveal the identities of their creators, painters, and patrons, as well as the vivid realities of the social and physical world they depicted.  In doing so, Pinto develops innovative techniques for approaching the visual record of Islamic history, explores how medieval Muslims perceived themselves and their world, and brings Middle Eastern maps into the forefront of the study of the history of cartography. "
to:NB  medieval_eurasian_history  islamic_civilization  history_of_science  maps  books:noted 
december 2016
Dictionary of Indo-European Concepts and Society, Benveniste, Palmer, Agamben
"Since its publication in 1969, Émile Benveniste’s Vocabulaire—here in a new translation as the Dictionary of Indo-European Concepts and Society—has been the classic reference for tracing the institutional and conceptual genealogy of the sociocultural worlds of gifts, contracts, sacrifice, hospitality, authority, freedom, ancient economy, and kinship. A comprehensive and comparative history of words with analyses of their underlying neglected genealogies and structures of signification—and this via a masterful journey through Germanic, Romance, Indo-Iranian, Latin, and Greek languages—Benveniste’s dictionary is a must-read for anthropologists, linguists, literary theorists, classicists, and philosophers alike."
to:NB  books:noted  ancient_history  anthropology  indo-europeans  linguistics 
december 2016
The Invention of Culture, Wagner, Ingold
"In anthropology, a field that is known for its critical edge and intellectual agility, few books manage to maintain both historical value and contemporary relevance. Roy Wagner's The Invention of Culture, originally published in 1975, is one.
"Wagner breaks new ground by arguing that culture arises from the dialectic between the individual and the social world. Rooting his analysis in the relationships between invention and convention, innovation and control, and meaning and context, he builds a theory that insists on the importance of creativity, placing people-as-inventors at the heart of the process that creates culture. In an elegant twist, he shows that this very process ultimately produces the discipline of anthropology itself.
"Tim Ingold’s foreword to the new edition captures the exhilaration of Wagner’s book while showing how the reader can journey through it and arrive safely—though transformed—on the other side."
to:NB  books:noted  anthropology  cultural_evolution 
december 2016
Evolution Made to Order: Plant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth-Century America, Curry
"In the mid-twentieth century, American plant breeders, frustrated by their dependence on natural variation in creating new crops and flowers, eagerly sought technologies that could extend human control over nature. Their search led them to celebrate a series of strange tools: an x-ray beam directed at dormant seeds, a drop of chromosome-altering colchicine on a flower bud, and a piece of radioactive cobalt in a field of growing crops. According to scientific and popular reports of the time, these mutation-inducing methods would generate variation on demand, in turn allowing breeders to genetically engineer crops and flowers to order. Creating a new crop or flower would soon be as straightforward as innovating any other modern industrial product.
"In Evolution Made to Order, Helen Anne Curry traces the history of America’s pursuit of tools that could speed up evolution. It is an immersive journey through the scientific and social worlds of midcentury genetics and plant breeding and a compelling exploration of American cultures of innovation. As Curry reveals, the creation of genetic technologies was deeply entangled with other areas of technological innovation—from electromechanical to chemical to nuclear. An important study of biological research and innovation in America, Evolution Made to Order provides vital historical context for current worldwide ethical and policy debates over genetic engineering."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  history_of_technology  biology  genetics 
december 2016
The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, Warikoo
"We’ve heard plenty from politicians and experts on affirmative action and higher education, about how universities should intervene—if at all—to ensure a diverse but deserving student population. But what about those for whom these issues matter the most? In this book, Natasha K. Warikoo deeply explores how students themselves think about merit and race at a uniquely pivotal moment: after they have just won the most competitive game of their lives and gained admittance to one of the world’s top universities.
"What Warikoo uncovers—talking with both white students and students of color at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford—is absolutely illuminating; and some of it is positively shocking. As she shows, many elite white students understand the value of diversity abstractly, but they ignore the real problems that racial inequality causes and that diversity programs are meant to solve. They stand in fear of being labeled a racist, but they are quick to call foul should a diversity program appear at all to hamper their own chances for advancement. The most troubling result of this ambivalence is what she calls the “diversity bargain,” in which white students reluctantly agree with affirmative action as long as it benefits them by providing a diverse learning environment—racial diversity, in this way, is a commodity, a selling point on a brochure. And as Warikoo shows, universities play a big part in creating these situations. The way they talk about race on campus and the kinds of diversity programs they offer have a huge impact on student attitudes, shaping them either toward ambivalence or, in better cases, toward more productive and considerate understandings of racial difference.
"Ultimately, this book demonstrates just how slippery the notions of race, merit, and privilege can be. In doing so, it asks important questions not just about college admissions but what the elite students who have succeeded at it—who will be the world’s future leaders—will do with the social inequalities of the wider world."
to:NB  books:noted  diversity  affirmative_action  racism  academia 
december 2016
Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study, Leonelli
"In recent decades, there has been a major shift in the way researchers process and understand scientific data. Digital access to data has revolutionized ways of doing science in the biological and biomedical fields, leading to a data-intensive approach to research that uses innovative methods to produce, store, distribute, and interpret huge amounts of data. In Data-Centric Biology, Sabina Leonelli probes the implications of these advancements and confronts the questions they pose. Are we witnessing the rise of an entirely new scientific epistemology? If so, how does that alter the way we study and understand life—including ourselves?
" Leonelli is the first scholar to use a study of contemporary data-intensive science to provide a philosophical analysis of the epistemology of data. In analyzing the rise, internal dynamics, and potential impact of data-centric biology, she draws on scholarship across diverse fields of science and the humanities—as well as her own original empirical material—to pinpoint the conditions under which digitally available data can further our understanding of life. Bridging the divide between historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science, Data-Centric Biology offers a nuanced account of an issue that is of fundamental importance to our understanding of contemporary scientific practices."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  philosophy_of_science  bioinformatics  biology 
december 2016
Conquest and Community: The Afterlife of Warrior Saint Ghazi Miyan, Amin
"Few topics in South Asian history are as contentious as that of the Turkic conquest of the Indian subcontinent that began in the twelfth century and led to a long period of Muslim rule. How is a historian supposed to write honestly about the bloody history of the conquest without falling into communitarian traps?
"Conquest and Community is Shahid Amin's answer. Covering more than eight hundred years of history, the book centers on the enduringly popular saint Ghazi Miyan, a youthful soldier of Islam whose shrines are found all over India. Amin details the warrior saint’s legendary exploits, then tracks the many ways he has been commemorated in the centuries since. The intriguing stories, ballads, and proverbs that grew up around Ghazi Miyan were, Amin shows, a way of domesticating the conquest—recognizing past conflicts and differences but nevertheless bringing diverse groups together into a community of devotees. What seems at first glance to be the story of one mythical figure becomes an allegory for the history of Hindu-Muslim relations over an astonishingly long period of time, and a timely contribution to current political and historical debates."
to:NB  books:noted  history  history_of_religion  epidemiology_of_representations  india  islam 
december 2016
Bleak Liberalism, Anderson
"Why is liberalism so often dismissed by thinkers from both the left and the right? To those calling for wholesale transformation or claiming a monopoly on “realistic” conceptions of humanity, liberalism’s assured progressivism can seem hard to swallow. Bleak Liberalism makes the case for a renewed understanding of the liberal tradition, showing that it is much more attuned to the complexity of political life than conventional accounts have acknowledged.
"Amanda Anderson examines canonical works of high realism, political novels from England and the United States, and modernist works to argue that liberalism has engaged sober and even stark views of historical development, political dynamics, and human and social psychology. From Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Hard Times to E. M. Forster’s Howards End to Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, this literature demonstrates that liberalism has inventive ways of balancing sociological critique and moral aspiration. A deft blend of intellectual history and literary analysis, Bleak Liberalism reveals a richer understanding of one of the most important political ideologies of the modern era."
to:NB  books:noted  liberalism  defenses_of_liberalism  political_philosophy  literary_criticism 
december 2016
How to Make a Meaningful Comparison of Models: The Church–Turing Thesis Over the Reals | SpringerLink
"It is commonly believed that there is no equivalent of the Church–Turing thesis for computation over the reals. In particular, computational models on this domain do not exhibit the convergence of formalisms that supports this thesis in the case of integer computation. In the light of recent philosophical developments on the different meanings of the Church–Turing thesis, and recent technical results on analog computation, I will show that this current belief confounds two distinct issues, namely the extension of the notion of effective computation to the reals on the one hand, and the simulation of analog computers by Turing machines on the other hand. I will argue that it is possible in both cases to defend an equivalent of the Church–Turing thesis over the reals. Along the way, we will learn some methodological caveats on the comparison of different computational models, and how to make it meaningful."
to:NB  theoretical_computer_science  computation 
december 2016
What American Government Does
"It has become all too easy to disparage the role of the US government today. Many Americans are influenced by a simplistic anti-government ideology that is itself driven by a desire to roll back the more democratically responsive aspects of public policy. But government has improved the lives of Americans in numerous ways, from providing income, food, education, housing, and healthcare support, to ensuring cleaner air, water, and food, to providing a vast infrastructure upon which economic growth depends.
"In What American Government Does, Stan Luger and Brian Waddell offer a practical understanding of the scope and function of American governance. They present a historical overview of the development of US governance that is rooted in the theoretical work of Charles Tilly, Karl Polanyi, and Michael Mann. Touching on everything from taxes, welfare, and national and domestic security to the government’s regulatory, developmental, and global responsibilities, each chapter covers a main function of American government and explains how it emerged and then evolved over time. Luger and Waddell are careful to both identify the controversies related to what government does and those areas of government that should elicit concern and vigilance. Analyzing the functions of the US government in terms of both a tug-of-war and a collaboration between state and societal forces, they provide a reading of American political development that dispels the myth of a weak, minimal, non-interventionist state."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  american_history 
december 2016
What they don’t teach you at STEM school | Meaningness
Interesting, but a comprehensive (and valid!) refutation of nihilism as an intermediate step does bring to mind "I think you should be a bit more specific here in step 2". (Also: ethnomethodology as the key to everything, _really_? Even if you accept its findings on their own terms [and Gellner had a great essay back in the day on why you shouldn't], it's just question-begging about how people have the capacity for those sorts of social interactions, so we're off to the races again. But I'd probably enjoy having these arguments with the author.)
rationality  limits_of_rationality  systems  philosophy  epistemology  via:vaguery  have_read  cognition 
december 2016
The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue, Jones
"Amid the unrest, dislocation, and uncertainty of seventeenth-century Europe, readers seeking consolation and assurance turned to philosophical and scientific books that offered ways of conquering fears and training the mind—guidance for living a good life.
"The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution presents a triptych showing how three key early modern scientists, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Leibniz, envisioned their new work as useful for cultivating virtue and for pursuing a good life. Their scientific and philosophical innovations stemmed in part from their understanding of mathematics and science as cognitive and spiritual exercises that could create a truer mental and spiritual nobility.  In portraying the rich contexts surrounding Descartes’ geometry, Pascal’s arithmetical triangle, and Leibniz’s calculus, Matthew L. Jones argues that this drive for moral therapeutics guided important developments of early modern philosophy and the Scientific Revolution."

--- No Bacon? No Spinoza?
to:NB  books:noted  scientific_revolution  moral_philosophy  history_of_science  history_of_morals  descartes.rene  pascal.blaise  leibniz.g.w. 
december 2016
Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage, Jones
"From Blaise Pascal in the 1600s to Charles Babbage in the first half of the nineteenth century, inventors struggled to create the first calculating machines. All failed—but that does not mean we cannot learn from the trail of ideas, correspondence, machines, and arguments they left behind.
"In Reckoning with Matter, Matthew L. Jones draws on the remarkably extensive and well-preserved records of the quest to explore the concrete processes involved in imagining, elaborating, testing, and building calculating machines. He explores the writings of philosophers, engineers, and craftspeople, showing how they thought about technical novelty, their distinctive areas of expertise, and ways they could coordinate their efforts. In doing so, Jones argues that the conceptions of creativity and making they exhibited are often more incisive—and more honest—than those that dominate our current legal, political, and aesthetic culture."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_technology  history_of_ideas  pre-cognitivism  computers  innovation  pascal.blaise  leibniz.g.w.  babbage.charles 
december 2016
The Phoenix: An Unnatural Biography of a Mythical Beast, Nigg
"Arising triumphantly from the ashes of its predecessor, the phoenix has been an enduring symbol of resilience and renewal for thousands of years. But how did this mythical bird become so famous that it has played a part in cultures around the world and throughout human history? How much of its story do we actually know? Here to offer a comprehensive biography and engaging (un)natural history of the phoenix is Joseph Nigg, esteemed expert on mythical creatures—from griffins and dragons to sea monsters.
"Beginning in ancient Egypt and traveling around the globe and through the centuries, Nigg’s vast and sweeping narrative takes readers on a brilliant tour of the cross-cultural lore of this famous, yet little-known, immortal bird. Seeking both the similarities and the differences in the phoenix’s many myths and representations, Nigg describes its countless permutations over millennia, including legends of the Chinese “phoenix,” which was considered one of the sacred creatures that presided over China’s destiny; classical Greece and Rome, where it can be found in the writings of Herodotus and Ovid; nascent and medieval Christianity, in which it came to embody the resurrection; and in Europe during the Renaissance, when it was a popular emblem of royals. Nigg examines the various phoenix traditions, the beliefs and tales associated with them, their symbolic and metaphoric use, the skepticism and speculation they’ve raised, and their appearance in religion, bestiaries, and even contemporary popular culture, in which the ageless bird of renewal is employed as a mascot and logo, including for our own University of Chicago.
"Never bested by hardship or defeated by death, the phoenix is the ultimate icon of hope and rebirth. And in The Phoenix: An Unnatural Biography of a Mythical Beast, it finally has its due—a complete chronicle worthy of such a fantastic and phantasmal creature. This entertaining and informative look at the life and transformation of the phoenix will be the authoritative source for anyone fascinated by folklore and mythology, re-igniting our curiosity about one of myth’s greatest beasts."
to:NB  books:noted  mythology 
december 2016
Partisans and Partners: The Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society, Pacewicz
"There’s no question that Americans are bitterly divided by politics. But in Partisans and Partners, Josh Pacewicz finds that our traditional understanding of red/blue, right/left, urban/rural division is too simplistic.
"Wheels-down in Iowa—that most important of primary states—Pacewicz looks to two cities, one traditionally Democratic, the other traditionally Republican, and finds that younger voters are rejecting older-timers’ strict political affiliations. A paradox is emerging—as the dividing lines between America’s political parties have sharpened, Americans are at the same time growing distrustful of traditional party politics in favor of becoming apolitical or embracing outside-the-beltway candidates. Pacewicz sees this change coming not from politicians and voters, but from the fundamental reorganization of the community institutions in which political parties have traditionally been rooted. Weaving together major themes in American political history—including globalization, the decline of organized labor, loss of locally owned industries, uneven economic development, and the emergence of grassroots populist movements—Partisans and Partners is a timely and comprehensive analysis of American politics as it happens on the ground."

--- I can't tell from this whether the author mightn't wish for an opportunity to revise and extend their remarks...
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  ethnography  our_decrepit_institutions  whats_gone_wrong_with_america 
december 2016
Mathematical Structures in Languages, Keenan, Moss
"Mathematical Structures in Languages introduces a number of mathematical concepts that are of interest to the working linguist. The areas covered include basic set theory and logic, formal languages and automata, trees, partial orders, lattices, Boolean structure,  generalized quantifier theory, and linguistic invariants, the last drawing on Edward L. Keenan and Edward Stabler’s Bare Grammar: A Study of Language Invariants, also published by CSLI Publications. Ideal for advanced undergraduate and graduate students of linguistics, this book contains numerous exercises and will be a valuable resource for courses on mathematical topics in linguistics. The product of many years of teaching, Mathematic Structures in Languages is very much a book to be read and learned from."
to:NB  books:noted  mathematics  logic  linguistics 
december 2016
Reconstructing Karl Polanyi, Dale
"Karl Polanyi was one of the most influential political economists of the twentieth-century and is widely regarded as the most gifted of social democrat theorists. In Reconstructing Karl Polanyi, Gareth Dale draws upon primary sources archived in the countries that Polanyi called home—Hungary, Austria, Britain, the United States, and Canada—to provide a sweeping survey of his contribution to the social sciences.
"Polanyi’s intellectual and political outlook can best be summarized through paradoxical formulations such as ‘romantic modernist’, ‘liberal socialist’, and ‘cosmopolitan patriot.’ In exploring these paradoxes, Dale excavates and reconstructs Polanyi’s views on a range of topics that have been neglected in the critical literature, including Keynesian economic policy, the evolution and dynamics of Stalin’s Russia, regional integration, and McCarthyism. He reinterprets Polanyi’s philosophy of history, his theory of democracy, and his economic historiography of Ancient Greece and Mesopotamia, and guides readers through Polyani's critical dialogue with Marxism.  
"While the central threads and motifs of this study are intellectual-historiographical in nature, Dale also critically analyzes the views of Polanyi and his followers on issues of pressing present-day relevance, notably the clash between democracy and capitalism, and the nature and trajectory of European unification."
to:NB  books:noted  lives_of_the_scholars  economics  economic_history  polyani.karl  progressive_forces 
december 2016
Energy Humanities
"Energy humanities is a field of scholarship that, like medical and digital humanities before it, aims to overcome traditional boundaries between the disciplines and between academic and applied research. Responding to growing public concern about anthropogenic climate change and the unsustainability of the fuels we use to power our modern society, energy humanists highlight the essential contribution that humanistic insights and methods can make to areas of analysis once thought best left to the natural sciences.
"In this groundbreaking anthology, Imre Szeman and Dominic Boyer have brought together a carefully curated selection of the best and most influential work in energy humanities. In just the past decade, the humanities have witnessed a remarkable efflorescence of research that is beginning to receive recognition by scientists, government officials, and industry. Arguing that today’s energy and environmental dilemmas are fundamentally problems of ethics, habits, imagination, values, institutions, belief, and power—all traditional areas of expertise of the humanities and humanistic social sciences—the essays featured here demonstrate the scale and complexity of the issues the world faces. They also offer compelling possibilities for finding our way beyond our current energy dependencies toward a sustainable future.
"Staying true to the diverse work that makes up this emergent field, selections range from anthropology and geography to philosophy, history, and cultural studies to recent energy-focused interventions in art and literature. Energy Humanities will appeal to scholars and students across the disciplines, especially those concerned with environmental issues and social justice, as well as anyone concerned with our shared planet and the challenges of political, social, and environmental change."
to:NB  books:noted  literary_criticism  cultural_criticism  climate_change  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
december 2016
Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups
"While coups drive a majority of regime changes and are responsible for the overthrow of many democratic governments, there has been very little empirical work on the subject. Seizing Power develops a new theory of coup dynamics and outcomes, drawing on 300 hours of interviews with coup participants and an original dataset of 471 coup attempts worldwide from 1950 to 2000. Naunihal Singh delivers a concise and empirical evaluation, arguing that understanding the dynamics of military factions is essential to predicting the success or failure of coups.
"Singh draws on an aspect of game theory known as a coordination game to explain coup dynamics. He finds a strong correlation between successful coups and the ability of military actors to project control and the inevitability of success. Examining Ghana’s multiple coups and the 1991 coup attempt in the USSR, Singh shows how military actors project an image of impending victory that is often more powerful than the reality on the ground.
"In addition, Singh also identifies three distinct types of coup dynamics, each with a different probability of success, based on where within the organization each coup originated: coups from top military officers, coups from the middle ranks, and mutinous coups from low-level soldiers."

--- Wonder how much this advances over the old Luttwak book...
to:NB  books:noted  political_science  coup_d'etat  game_theory 
december 2016
Universities and Their Cities: Urban Higher Education in America
"Today, a majority of American college students attend school in cities. But throughout the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century, urban colleges and universities faced deep hostility from writers, intellectuals, government officials, and educators who were concerned about the impact of cities, immigrants, and commuter students on college education. In Universities and Their Cities, Steven J. Diner explores the roots of American colleges’ traditional rural bias. Why were so many people, including professors, uncomfortable with nonresident students? How were the missions and activities of urban universities influenced by their cities? And how, improbably, did much-maligned urban universities go on to profoundly shape contemporary higher education across the nation?
"Surveying American higher education from the early nineteenth century to the present, Diner examines the various ways in which universities responded to the challenges offered by cities. In the years before World War II, municipal institutions struggled to "build character" in working class and immigrant students. In the postwar era, universities in cities grappled with massive expansion in enrollment, issues of racial equity, the problems of "disadvantaged" students, and the role of higher education in addressing the "urban crisis." Over the course of the twentieth century, urban higher education institutions greatly increased the use of the city for teaching, scholarly research on urban issues, and inculcating civic responsibility in students. In the final decades of the century, and moving into the twenty-first century, university location in urban areas became increasingly popular with both city-dwelling students and prospective resident students, altering the long tradition of anti-urbanism in American higher education.
"Drawing on the archives and publications of higher education organizations and foundations, Universities and Their Cities argues that city universities brought about today’s commitment to universal college access by reaching out to marginalized populations. Diner shows how these institutions pioneered the development of professional schools and PhD programs. Finally, he considers how leaders of urban higher education continuously debated the definition and role of an urban university. Ultimately, this book is a considered and long overdue look at the symbiotic impact of these two great American institutions: the city and the university."
to:NB  books:noted  education  academia  cities  american_history 
december 2016
Reading Galileo: Scribal Technologies and _Two New Sciences_
"In 1638, Galileo was over seventy years old, blind, and confined to house arrest outside of Florence. With the help of friends and family, he managed to complete and smuggle to the Netherlands a manuscript that became his final published work, Two New Sciences. Treating diverse subjects that became the foundations of mechanical engineering and physics, this book is often depicted as the definitive expression of Galileo’s purportedly modern scientific agenda. In Reading Galileo, Renée Raphael offers a new interpretation of Two New Sciences which argues instead that the work embodied no such coherent canonical vision. Raphael alleges that it was written—and originally read—as the eclectic product of the types of discursive textual analysis and meandering descriptive practices Galileo professed to reject in favor of more qualitative scholarship.
"Focusing on annotations period readers left in the margins of extant copies and on the notes and teaching materials of seventeenth-century university professors whose lessons were influenced by Galileo’s text, Raphael explores the ways in which a range of early-modern readers, from ordinary natural philosophers to well-known savants, responded to Galileo. She highlights the contrast between the practices of Galileo’s actual readers, who followed more traditional, "bookish" scholarly methods, and their image, constructed by Galileo and later historians, as "modern" mathematical experimenters.
"Two New Sciences has not previously been the subject of such rigorous attention and analysis. Reading Galileo considerably changes our understanding of Galileo’s important work while offering a well-executed case study in the reception of an early-modern scientific classic. This important text will be of interest to a wide range of historians—of science, of scholarly practices and the book, and of early-modern intellectual and cultural history."

--- This hardly seems like a contradiction. Surely it's _possible_ both that Galileo intended his book in a "modern" way, and that many people read it in a much older fashion?
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  early_modern_european_history  reception_history  galileo  scientific_revolution  the_printing_press_as_an_agent_of_change 
december 2016
The myth of the Rust Belt revolt.
"Compared with 2012, three times as many voters in the Rust Belt who made under $100,000 voted for third parties. Twice as many voted for alternative or write-in candidates. Similarly, compared with 2012, some 500,000 more voters chose to sit out this presidential election. If there was a Rust Belt revolt this year, it was the voters’ flight from both parties.
"In short, the story of a white working-class revolt in the Rust Belt just doesn't hold up, according to the numbers. In the Rust Belt, Democrats lost 1.35 million voters. Trump picked up less than half, at 590,000. The rest stayed home or voted for someone other than the major party candidates.
"This data suggests that if the Democratic Party wants to win the Rust Belt, it should not go chasing after the white working-class men who voted for Trump. The party should spend its energy figuring out why Democrats lost millions of voters to some other candidate or to abstention. Exit polls do not collect information about why voters stay home. Perhaps it’s time someone asked them."
us_politics  track_down_references 
december 2016
Book - Colin Crouch - The Knowledge Corrupters: Hidden Consequences of the Financial Takeover of Public Life
"In principle the advanced, market-driven world in which we now live is fuelled by knowledge, information and transparency, but in practice the processes that produce this world systematically corrupt and denigrate knowledge: this is the powerful and provocative argument advanced by Colin Crouch in his latest exploration of societies on the road to post-democracy."
Crouch shows that executives in profit-maximizing corporations have incentives to ignore or distort knowledge, especially firms in the information business of the mass media themselves, as financial knowledge increasingly trumps the other kinds of knowledge that business needs. Firms also seek to take control of public knowledge and use it for their own ends, often at the cost of other stakeholders in society. Meanwhile the transfer of similar practices to professional public services undermines professional skills and ethics - especially when these services are out-sourced to the private sector. Attempts to extricate ourselves from these problems involve reshaping the complex and often conflicting relationships among citizens, professionals, managers and financiers.
to:NB  books:noted  deceiving_us_has_become_an_industrial_process  natural_history_of_truthiness  crouch.colin  social_life_of_the_mind  via:henry_farrell 
december 2016
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