The Coordinated Activity Theory of the Firm by Peter Dorman :: SSRN
This paper proceeds from the assumption that economies are characterized by a high degree of interactive nonconvexity in most activities and at most scales. The consequence is nonconvex production and preference sets and the corresponding inefficiency of myopic algorithms. One application of this perspective is the theory of the firm. Conventional theories explain the existence, boundaries and internal organization of firms on the basis of contracting costs that impede the otherwise optimizing properties of market decentralization. I propose instead an approach in which the motive for organizing production within rather than between institutions is to internalize nonconvexities, thereby obtaining the benefit of explicitly coordinated plans. A useful device for representing this problem is the profit landscape, understood to be nonconvex in the sense that fitness landscapes are in evolutionary theory. Firms face three types of challenges, optimizing with respect to a particular profit hill (the problem analyzed in standard microeconomics), selecting a desirable hill, and achieving flexibility to transition between hills in the face of environmental change. These entail tradeoffs, which are reflected in the diversity of personnel, organizational, and innovation strategies observed in actual enterprises. While the use of the landscape metaphor in coordinated activity theory resembles a similar deployment in evolutionary economics, the two approaches differ in the questions they ask and the units of observation and analysis they employ. The applicability of the coordinated activity model is underscored by its congruence with the bulk of management literature, which can be understood more readily in terms of hill-selection than, or in addition to, the hill-climbing paradigm of conventional economics. In this sense, the existing management literature already provides a body of empirical and applied support for coordinated activity theory, although not generally for the socially-founded objectives of economics.

Keywords: theory of the firm, evolutionary economics, nonconvexities
firms-theory  downloaded  SSRN  firms-organization  firms-structure 
march 2018
How Cambridge Analytica turned Facebook ‘likes’ into a lucrative political tool
Play Video 13:04 Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video T he algorithm at the heart of the Facebook…
cyber_privacy  Facebook  social_media  Trump-Russia  elections-2016  from instapaper
march 2018
Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
Play Video 13:04 Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video The data analytics firm that worked with…
elections-2016  cyber_privacy  Facebook  social_media  Trump-Russia  from instapaper
march 2018
Oliver Hart and the Poetry of Economic Theory -
At this year’s annual ASSA meeting, Stigler Center Director Luigi Zingales delivered a lecture honoring Oliver Hart, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for…
firms-theory  firms-structure  incentives-distortions  human_capital  organizations  microeconomics  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
To Help Workers Adjust to Technological Change, First Pinpoint Where It Is Happening -
Changes in technology clearly affect people in different sectors and occupations differently, but providing adequate policy support to workers trying to adjust…
technology  Labor_markets  labor_share  productivity  unemployment  from instapaper
march 2018
Back To Gradualism
My reading of the consensus view is that the change in personnel at the Federal Reserve has coincided with a more hawkish outlook, although the tax cut…
Fed  interest_rates  inflation  fiscal_policy  monetary_policy  tax_cuts  multipliers  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
A New Study of Labor Market Concentration - Roosevelt Institute
Labor economists have traditionally focused on worker-side characteristics, such as education, as the crucial causal variable for explaining outcomes like…
Labor_markets  antitrust  monopsony  unemployment  skills  human_capital  wages  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
New Brandeis Movement: America’s Antimonopoly Debate | Journal of European Competition Law & Practice | Oxford Academic
Over the last two years, a growing number in America have concluded that the United States has a monopoly problem. The Obama Administration’s Council of…
antitrust  monopolies  industry_concentration  competition  Labor_markets  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
New Study Shows Just How Bad the US Labor Market’s Competition Problem Really Is -
In recent decades, antitrust policy has all but ignored the issue of monopsony power. Yet a new paper shows that across the US economy, labor markets are highly…
Labor_markets  monopsony  labor_share  antitrust  industry_concentration  Evernote  wages  from instapaper
march 2018
Antitrust in the Labor Market: Protectionist, or Pro-Competitive? -
Redirecting antitrust enforcement to confront monopsony power would be a substantial departure from the way it has been conducted in recent decades, but just…
Labor_markets  wages  monopsony  antitrust  competition  industry_concentration  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
Strong Employers and Weak Employees: Study Sheds New Light on How Labor Market Concentration Hurts Workers -
New study finds that wages are significantly lower in concentrated labor markets—and even lower in labor markets where unionization rates are low. Strikers and…
Labor_markets  wages  unions  human_capital  monopsony  antitrust  competition  industry_concentration  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
Here's the real reason the Japanese don't buy American cars
This is the only bowling ball test anyone has been able to uncover: a guest on the Dave Letterman show dropping bowling balls five stories onto an old car.…
trade-policy  Japan  Trump  from instapaper
march 2018
Notes on the Global Condition: Nuclear aircraft carriers in the age of the anthropocene – ADAM TOOZE
The refusal of the Trump administration to engage with the question of climate change not only causes consternation worldwide. It also causes tension within the…
US_military  climate  climate-adaptation  military-industrial_complex  Trump_administration  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
The Health-Care Gap Between Red and Blue America
The battle over health care is moving to the states. The most immediate effect of the recent steps taken by Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to…
Trump_administration  state_government  health_care  from instapaper
march 2018
Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now – Gloria Origgi | Aeon Ideas
Not faking it. From the Apollo 15 mission. Photo NASA There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced…
epistemology-social  social_media  fake_news  from instapaper
march 2018
If we disagree about morality, how can we teach it? – Michael Hand | Aeon Ideas
Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty People disagree about morality. They disagree about what morality prohibits, permits and requires. And they…
moral_philosophy  civic_virtue  from instapaper
march 2018
In the 1950s everybody cool was a little alienated. What changed? – Martin Jay | Aeon Essays
The fear of ‘alienation’ from a perceived state of harmony has a long and winding history. Western culture is replete with stories of expulsion from paradise…
post-WWII  existentialism  alienation  Frankfurt_School  intellectual_history  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
The CLOUD Act Doesn’t Help Privacy and Human Rights: It Hurts Them
At a time when human rights activists, dissidents and journalists around the world face unprecedented attacks, we cannot afford to weaken our commitment to…
cyber_privacy  from instapaper
march 2018
Who Really Won PA 18?
The people who actually powered Conor Lamb’s nail-biter victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district are scratching their heads over the “Republican…
elections-2018  Democrats  from instapaper
march 2018
Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s fight to win back Wisconsin for Democrats, explained - Vox
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images The past decade has been a slow-motion Republican conquest of Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s party now holds all but one…
elections-2018  Democrats  Senate  from instapaper
march 2018
Why the CLOUD Act is Good for Privacy and Human Rights
A dozen privacy and human rights groups have opposed the bipartisan CLOUD Act regulating cross-border data access, claiming that it will erode basic liberties .…
cyber_privacy  from instapaper
march 2018
EU Expert Group on Fake News Releases Final Report
On Mar. 12, the European Commission released the final report of its independent High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation (the Group), a…
from instapaper
march 2018
Last night, Trump voters came home to the Democrats
Maryland GovPics Donate The first thing a lot of people want to do today after seeing the results of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional…
elections-2018  Democrats  from instapaper
march 2018
This Day in Labor History: March 11, 1811 - Lawyers, Guns & Money
On March 11, 1811, the Luddite movement began in Arnold, Nottingham, England, when textile workers destroyed the machines where they worked as a protest against…
Luddites  19thC  labor_history  technology  Industrial_Revolution  unemployment  labor_standards  Evernote  from instapaper
march 2018
Oleg Deripaska Gets Ahead of His Own Fusion Dossier (and Manafort Prosecution?) Disclosures – emptywheel
Sometime Paul Manafort client and owner Oleg Deripaska just did a column in the Daily Caller insinuating the Mueller investigation is a Deep State attack on…
Trump-Russia  from instapaper
march 2018
Politics and numbers | The Enlightened Economist
I’m thoroughly enjoying William Deringer’s Calculated Values: Finance, Politics and the Quantitative Age – almost finished. The book asks, why from the early…
reviews  17thC  18thC  19thC  economic_history  economic_culture  economic_models  statistics  rhetoric-political  political_press  parties  partisanship  books  review  kindle-available  from instapaper
march 2018
Lebanon: Saad Hariri’s Impossible Choice
by Aurélie Daher One could say: “What a difference!” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is back in Riyadh this week, for the first time since he announced from…
MENA  Lebanon  Saudi_Arabia  from instapaper
march 2018
Re-Branded and Expanded: Visual Politics and the Implications of Guantanamo’s Make-Over | Duck of Minerva
There is a certain theatre to the Global War on Terror (GWoT). From the opening sequence of 9/11 to the shock and awe campaign ’ s projection of American…
GWOT  Gitmo  US_foreign_policy  US_military  soft_power  Trump-foreign_policy  from instapaper
march 2018
Political Theory Podcasts
Political theory hasn’t been neglected by the podcast boom, but it’s not always easy to know where to go. Here, I list (with links) the best political…
political_philosophy  podcasts  audio  from instapaper
march 2018
What a fossil revolution reveals about the history of ‘big data’ – David Sepkoski | Aeon Ideas
A stenopterygius fossil. Photo courtesy Wikipedia In 1981, when I was nine years old, my father took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark . Although I had to…
big_data  paleobiology  archaeology  geology  from instapaper
march 2018
Retweets Are Trash
Acouple of months ago, I made a small tweak to my Twitter account that has changed my experience of the platform. It’s calmer. It’s slower. It’s less…
social_media  from instapaper
march 2018
Unipolar Strategy in a Multipolar World
by Paul R. Pillar Vladimir Putin’s video show about formidable new Russian strategic weapons, which took up half of the Russian president’s recent…
US_foreign_policy  Russia  Russia-foreign_policy  multipolar  global_system  IR  military  from instapaper
march 2018
Apparently I Have Strong Thoughts About the Teacher Strike in WV – Balloon Juice
Much like Twitler, I sometimes see things on the intertrons that infuriate me: I then went on a lengthy rant, but I will clean it up for you. First, the New…
labor  wages  health_care  from instapaper
march 2018
The Competing Hope Hicks White Lies Stories – emptywheel
Since the NYT reported Hope Hicks admitting to telling white lies for Donald Trump in her House Intelligence Committee testimony Tuesday, the press has provided…
Trump-Russia  political_press  from instapaper
march 2018
Thug, Mob, Rogue: Trump Organization’s Own Description of Its Panama Hotel – emptywheel
While Trump and his son-in-law (and a number of his cabinet members) have clearly been profiting personally from Trump’s presidency (see my NYT op-ed on Jared’s…
Trump  money-laundering  from instapaper
march 2018
Why Italy's Election Is Such a Mess
No one knows what will happen when Italy votes on Sunday. Polling is inconclusive, and the electoral rules are brand-new. In an attempt to make some sense of…
Italy  populism  right-wing  voting  elections  from instapaper
march 2018
Grownups Are Not Running America’s Foreign Policy
At least their ties almost match. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images Americans have gotten at least a little bit used to the idea that the Trump White…
US_foreign_policy  Trump-foreign_policy  from instapaper
march 2018
The Story of Stone, Manafort and Donald Trump
At age 19 or 20, Roger Stone, who was then an employee of Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), was the youngest person to testify before the…
GOP  Nixon  ratf$&kers  elections  elections-2016  Ukraine  Russia  Trump-Russia  from instapaper
march 2018
Mueller Wants to Know How Far the Game of Email Telephone Got within the Trump Campaign – emptywheel
NBC has a story that has gotten a lot of people excited, reporting that Mueller’s team has been asking: Policy towards Russia: Why Trump took policy positions…
elections-2016  Trump-Russia  from instapaper
march 2018
Manafort, The Cinematic Arc of History And The Wildest Coincidence
I mentioned last week that a cluster of new revelations had given us a fresh and deeper view of Paul Manafort’s dire financial straits and desperate personal…
Ukraine  Russia  Trump-Russia  elections-2016  money-laundering  from instapaper
march 2018
Paul Krugman Looks Back at the Last Twenty Years of the Macroeconomic Policy Debate
Everybody interested in macroeconomics or macroeconomic policy should know this topic backwards and forwards by heart. My problem is that I do not see how I can…
paper  downloaded  macroeconomics  from instapaper
february 2018
Europe's Political Economy: Reading Reviews of Varoufakis's Adults in the Room – ADAM TOOZE
Since it appeared in 2017 Yannis Varoufakis’s Adults in the Room has attracted a number of thoughtful reviews. Broadly, these fall into three camps. The camp to…
EU  EU_governance  Eurozone  financial_crisis  Greece-Troika  political_economy  books  reviews  from instapaper
february 2018
The Big Picture: A Desperate Man
Prime Beta Editor's Brief Russia probe 02.23.18. 5:29 pm By 610 words back to tpm This page contains TPM PRIME members-only content Already a member? sign in…
Evernote  Trump  Trump-Russia  from instapaper
february 2018
Dan Drezner - The mainstream media has not covered Trump like Michael Wolff. Thank God for that.| WaPo Jan 8 2018
Copies of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff are seen at the Book Culture book store in New York on Jan. 5. (Shannon…
political_press  US_politics  Trump  from instapaper
january 2018
David James, ed., Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right: A Critical Guide - review by William Desmond | BDPR - Dec 2017
David James (ed.), Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right: A Critical Guide, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, 234 pp.,
Reviewed by William Desmond, Villanova University/KU Leuven
Evernote  political_philosophy  19thC  Hegel  intellectual_history  individualism  books  community  social_theory  Marx  German_Idealism  free_will  German_philosophy  reviews  Hegelian  Hegel-philosophy_of_right 
december 2017
Susan Haack’s Scientism and its Discontents | Rounded Globe
Susan Haack’s Scientism and its Discontents is based on her September 2016 Agnes Cuming Lectures at University College, Dublin. - Download epub version to Dropbox
sociology_of_science_&_technology  ebooks  epistemology  postmodern  pragmatism  philosophy_of_science  scepticism  downloaded  scientism 
december 2017
BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods - Downloads
Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.
audio  religious_culture  religion  symbols-religious  religious_history  sociology_of_religion  religious_art  comparative_religion  religious_practices  religious_imagery  ancient_religions 
december 2017
BBC Radio 4 - Germany: Memories of a Nation, Reichstag
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, explores 600 years of Germany's complex and often challenging history using objects, art, landmarks and literature.
audio  entre_deux_guerres  15thC  German_unification  design  Reformation  20thC  18thC  19thC  Holy_Roman_Empire  Nazis  art_history  Modernism  Weimar  16thC  Bismarck  Europe-Early_Modern  social_history  medieval_history  cultural_history  Germany  post-WWII  17thC 
december 2017
Early music viol consort - news, calendar, reviews & discography
Purcell  concerts  music_history  Renaissance  reviews  music  audio  Baroque 
december 2017
BBC Radio 4 - Shakespeare's Restless World - Downloads
Making a selection of objects from the British Museum and collections across the UK, Neil MacGregor uncovers the stories they tell about Shakespeare's world.
Elizabethan  17thC  British_politics  British_history  Shakespeare-influence  English_lit  audio  London  cultural_history  16thC  Shakespeare  social_history 
december 2017
Against Max Sawicky!
Max Sawicky has a piece in Jacobin , giving grief to Brink Lindsey and Steve Teles’ new book on rent seeking, The Captured Economy , and arguing that Dean…
political_economy  regulatory_capture  rent-seeking  demo-libertarians  inequality  from instapaper
december 2017
Pets or Livestock? | Chris Lehmann
Say you’re an overprivileged tech bro looking for a challenge. Sure, you could take another crack at vanquishing the Grim Reaper , or some variation of a…
Evernote  AI  utopian  singularity  technology  techno-libertarian  from instapaper
december 2017
Corporate Criminal Accountability for International Crimes
Above: The International Criminal Court Ed. note. This post is the latest in our series on the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Jesner. v. Arab Bank , a case…
corporate_citizenship  corporate_personhood  accountability  international_law  international_crimes  Evernote  from instapaper
december 2017
Kuwait and Kurdish Separatism
by Giorgio Cafiero and Jesse Schatz The unresolved Kurdish question remains a highly influential dynamic in the Middle East’s geopolitical order. Recent…
Iraq  Kurds  MENA  from instapaper
december 2017
Locking Palestinians in a Flawed Peace Process
by Khaled Elgindy and Lara Friedman The Trump administration’s recent decision to allow the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington—the de…
Evernote  Israel  Palestinians  Trump-foreign_policy  Congress  MidEast_peace_process  from instapaper
december 2017
Misusing Intelligence to Sell Conflict with Iran
by Paul R. Pillar Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration…
Iran  Trump-foreign_policy  diplomacy  Iran-nuclear_accord  US_intelligence_agencies  Trump_admin-lies  from instapaper
december 2017
Bob Bauer - Alan Dershowitz’s Worries About the Russia Investigation and the Criminalization of Politics | Lawfare
Worried about a “ criminalized politics ,” Alan Dershowitz argues that “malleable” laws should be reserved for proper and not blatantly political uses. He fears…
Evernote  US_politics  political_culture  politicians-crimes  criminalization_of_politics  accountability  Trump-Russia  from instapaper
december 2017
Prepare for the New Paywall Era
If the recent numbers are any indication, there is a bloodbath in digital media this year. Publishers big and small are coming up short on advertising revenue ,…
from instapaper
november 2017
Perspective | Universities are also to blame for the GOP’s ‘grad student tax’
Protesters shout their disapproval of the Republican tax bill on Tuesday. (AP) Graduate students are worried. The House of Representatives has passed a bill…
university  universities_vs_labor  grad_students  from instapaper
november 2017
Blockbuster from Gizmodo on Crosscheck: “Even a Novice Hacker Could Breach the Network Hosting Kris Kobach’s Bogus Voter Fraud Program” | Election Law Blog
Big from Gizmodo on Crosscheck: A program overseen by the head of President Trump’s so-called “election integrity” commission—which is now largely a tool for…
voting_rights  voter_suppression  Trump_admin-lies  election_integrity  from instapaper
november 2017
Wikileaks Urged Trump Not to Concede If He Lost | Election Law Blog
From blockbuster Atlantic report on emails between Donald Trump Jr. and Wikileaks, comes the following nugget: WikiLeaks didn’t write again until Election Day,…
elections-2016  Wikileaks  Trump  election_integrity  from instapaper
november 2017
“Trump, Twitter, and the Russians: The Growing Obsolescence of Federal Campaign Finance Law” | Election Law Blog
Tony Gaughan has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal) . Here is the abstract: Since the 1970s, federal…
elections  campaign_finance  Trump-Russia  social_media  from instapaper
november 2017
This is how screwed up Kris Kobach's voter fraud detection program is
Vice President Mike Pence, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson at a meeting of the Presidential Advisory…
voter_suppression  voting_rights  election_integrity  elections  Trump_admin-lies  from instapaper
november 2017
This Republican wants to make it harder to vote. But he's been totally embarrassed back home in Kansas.
Kris Kobach speaks at a rally for Donald Trump in Wichita, Kansas, on March 5, 2016. Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle via AP Donald Trump Jr. may be under…
voter_suppression  voting_rights  election_integrity  elections  Trump_admin-lies  from instapaper
november 2017
“Civil Rights Groups Launch National Effort to Combat Alarming Voter Purge Attempt” | Election Law Blog
Release: Today, leading national civil rights organizations are urging state and county election officials in jurisdictions across the country to reject the…
voter_suppression  voting_rights  election_integrity  elections  Trump_admin-lies  from instapaper
november 2017
Michael Kang - Gerrymandering and the Constitutional Norm Against Government Partisanship (2017) :: SSRN
Win election law prize - Michigan Law Review, Vol. 116, No. 3, Dec. 2017, Forthcoming- Emory Legal Studies Research Paper
71 Pages
Posted: 17 Aug 2017; Last revised: 28 Oct 2017
Michael S. Kang, Emory University School of Law
The Article challenges the basic premise in the law of partisan gerrymandering that government partisan purpose is constitutional at all. The central problem, Justice Scalia once explained in Vieth v. Jubelirer, is that partisan gerrymandering becomes unconstitutional only when it “has gone too far,” giving rise to the intractable inquiry into “how much is too much.” But the premise that partisanship is an ordinary and lawful purpose, articulated as settled law and widely understood as such, is largely wrong as constitutional doctrine. The Article surveys constitutional law to demonstrate the vitality of an important, if implicit norm against government partisanship across a variety of settings. From political patronage, to government speech, to election administration and even in redistricting itself, Vieth is the exception in failing to bar tribal partisanship as a legitimate state interest in lawmaking. The puzzle therefore is why the Supreme Court in Vieth diverged from this overarching norm for legislative redistricting where the need for government nonpartisanship is most acute and so rarely met. The Article proposes a purpose-focused approach that identifies partisanship as an illegitimate basis for lawmaking and requires the government to justify its redistricting with reference to legitimate state interests beyond partisanship, irrespective of extreme partisan effects. The importance of consolidating and reifying the norm against government partisanship, in its most salient legal context, cannot be overstated at a time when hyperpolarization between the major parties dominates national politics and is at its most severe in our lifetime.
Keywords: gerrymandering, redistricting, Whitford v. Gill, partisanship, parties, Bandemer
constitutional_law  political_participation  Evernote  gerrymandering  public_interest  SSRN  accountability  partisanship  liberalism-public_reason  democracy  article  downloaded  US_constitution  corruption  legitimacy  SCOTUS  elections 
november 2017
The Seychelles Meeting Inches Kushner Closer to Quid Pro Quo with Sanctioned Russian Money – emptywheel
The Intercept has an article that has gotten surprisingly little attention, particularly given the reports that Mike Flynn is prepping to flip on Trump and that…
Trump-Russia  from instapaper
november 2017
New industry clusters are springing up in the same old places
You have to love the fact that all four of China’s main private-sector express-delivery companies–the guys shuttling all those Taobao packages around the…
economic_history  economic_geography  Evernote  China-economy  Chinese_history  industry_clusters  from instapaper
november 2017
Bruce Campbell: The Great Transition, Lecture 1 of 4 - Ellen McArthur Lectures 2013, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
See his 2016 book with CUP - The Great Transition: Climate, Disease and Society in the Medieval World - kindle-available
Lecture schedule
Lecture 1 - The 14th century as tipping point: From one socio-ecological status quo to another
Lecture 2 - The enabling environment: The Medieval Solar Maximum and Latin Christendom's high-medieval efflorescence
Lecture 3 - A precarious balance: Mounting economic vulnerability in an era of increasing climatic instability
Lecture 4 - Disease intervenes: The Black Death and the 'Great Transition' to an alternative socio-ecological equilibrium
video  lecture  economic_history  social_history  environmental_history  disease  Black_Death  medieval_history  12thC  13thC  14thC  15thC  Italy  urbanization  foreign_trade  Mongols  Mamluks  spice_trade  Central_Asia  genetics  weather  agriculture  demography  economic_growth  climate-history  climate_change  Little_Ice_Age  Italy-cities  international_finance 
november 2017
WTF happened in Lebanon and ISIS update - Tommy Vietor's foreign affairs podcast - Crooked Media - Nov 17 2017
With Rob Malley - Crisis Group - was ISIS lead on Obama NSC - he arrived in Beirut, scheduled to meet Hariri, just as Hariri resigned on Saudi TV. The stunt has succeeded in producing the miracle of all parties in Lebanon agreeing on something - that it was effectively a hostage situation and they want their Prime Minister back. The discussion mostly deals with Saudi screwing stuff up and MBS consistently taking counterproductive steps that blow up in his face, the problems when Trump is seen by the region as giving MBS a blank check, and the clean up efforts required, which the Trump Admin isn't (yet?) organized to do consistently. The only winner is Iran, which just has to sit back quietly and get out the popcorn. Interesting discussion of how the Obama administration found it difficult to stay out of supporting Saudis re Yemen - timing with Iran nuclear talks was key consideration in limiting perceived options.
podcast  US_foreign_policy  Obama_administration  Trump_foreign_policy  MENA  Lebanon  Saudia_Arabia  Iran  Syria  ISIS  GWOT  diplomacy 
november 2017
Josiah Ober, Barry R. Weingast - Fortifications and Democracy in the Ancient Greek World :: SSRN - Oct 2017
In the modern world, access-limiting fortification walls are not typically regarded as promoting democracy. But in Greek antiquity, increased investment in fortifications was correlated with the prevalence and stability of democracy. This paper sketches the background conditions of the Greek city-state ecology, analyzes a passage in Aristotle’s Politics, and assesses the choices of Hellenistic kings, Greek citizens, and urban elites, as modeled in a simple game. The paper explains how city walls promoted democracy and helps to explain several other puzzles: why Hellenistic kings taxed Greek cities at lower than expected rates; why elites in Greek cities supported democracy; and why elites were not more heavily taxed by democratic majorities. The relationship between walls, democracy, and taxes promoted continued economic growth into the late classical and Hellenistic period (4th-2nd centuries BCE), and ultimately contributed to the survival of Greek culture into the Roman era, and thus modernity. We conclude with a consideration of whether the walls-democracy relationship holds in modernity.
Keywords: Democracy, Ancient Greece, Athens, Walls and Democracy, Taxation, War
elites-political_influence  Hellenistic_era  democracy  SSRN  taxes  paper  community  ancient_Greece  majoritarian  borders 
november 2017
Thomas Nail - Lucretius and the immanence of motion | The Immanent Frame - Sept 2017
Lucretius was the first philosopher of immanence. It is he and not Democritus or Epicurus who holds this title. If we want to understand the historical…
Epicurean  ancient_philosophy  Evernote  atomism  immanence  transcendence  materialism  Lucretius  from instapaper
september 2017
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