On Tight Deadline

by Henry on June 29, 2010

trying to get a policy piece on the Europe mess finished, but if I was blogging, I’d be blogging on the following:

(1) Eric Rauchway’s ‘Tom Buchanan’s Schooldays’ follow-up, _Banana Republican_ is out ( “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/Banana-Republican-Buchanan-Eric-Rauchway/dp/0374298947/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277221259&sr=8-4, Powells). The publisher asked me to blurb it, but then never used the blurb (on account of I’s not famous, I suspect) – what I said was:

Harry Flashman VC – make room for Tom Buchanan. Eric Rauchway’s anti-hero is more caddish, more craven and more enjoyably despicable than his English predecessor as he swaggers and bluffs his way through the seedier parts of the American Imperium. Enormously entertaining.

(2) “A Fine Theory”:http://afinetheorem.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/economic-theory-in-the-mathematical-mode-g-debreu-1984/ on Debreu and how to think about economic models (via Cosma’s “delicious feed”:http://delicious.com/cshalizi ).

bq. The problem lies at the heart of the difference between social science and mathematics. In an axiomatic mathematical system, the axioms are by assumption true – there is no sense in which an axiom can be false, since it is merely an abstract statement used to derive implications. … Social science is not this way. We know, pace the arguments of Lionel Robbins, that our assumptions are false, though we hope that they are in some sense “good enough” to derive implications … If axioms are only approximate, though, as in the standard Humean problem of induction, we have no way of knowing whether conclusions will also be approximate; there is no “universal continuity”. I think economists would be better served to think of axiomatization as the formalization of analogies. That is, an axiomatic deduction when axioms are imprecise may tell us nothing about the real world, but it tells us as much as a qualitative analogy, and does so in a formal way that deemphasizes the rhetorical ability of the author.

(3) Dan Sperber “pwns”:http://www.cognitionandculture.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=660:oy-vey-have-you-got-the-wrong-vampire-a-reply-to-frans-de-waal&catid=29:dan&Itemid=34 Frans de Waal.

(4) “Teresa Nielsen Hayden”:http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012461.html on Ireland’s economic problems. “If there’s anything I keep wishing the economic bloggers would explain in terms comprehensible to the general public, it’s that taxes are not the only way that government policies can cost them money. “

England’s Finest

by Kieran Healy on June 29, 2010

No, not that lot, obviously. (I hope Rooney put a downpayment on that caravan.) But even I have started to feel just very slightly bad about the recriminations and self-hatred engulfing English football writers at present. So here, as evidence of the sort of thing England is really quite good at, is The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

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