The durability of violent revolution

…regimes founded in violent social revolution are especially durable. Revolutionary regimes, such as those in Russia, China, Cuba, and Vietnam, endured for more than half a century in the face of strong external pressure, poor economic performance, and large-scale policy failures. The authors develop and test a theory that accounts for such durability using a […]

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Toots Hibbert, RIP

Possibly a Covid death (NYT), he was leader of Toots and the Maytals, and along with Desmond Dekker a favorite figure from the earlier period of reggae music.  “Sweet and Dandy” and “Pressure Drop” and “Monkey Man” I still listen to frequently, among others.  I was lucky to see him in concert twice, once as […]

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The Washington Consensus Works: Causal Effects of Reform, 1970-2015

  Sustained economic reform significantly raises real GDP per capita over a 5- to 10-year horizon. Despite the unpopularity of the Washington Consensus, its policies reliably raise average incomes. Countries that had sustained reform were 16% richer 10 years later. As for the method: In this paper, we define generalized reform as a discrete, sustained […]

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*Where is my flying car?: A memoir of future past*, by J. Storrs Hall

Who is this guy?  How come no one told me about this book until Adam Ozimek asked about it? One of the main arguments of the book is that we could have had major technological advances in multiple areas if only we had put in another fifty years of hard work on them.  Flying cars […]

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One of those boring yet fascinating innovation articles

Physicians who also have extensive training in scientific methods, often a Ph.D., are ideally suited to learn from the unusual clinical manifestations of Covid-19, such as strokes in young adults and autoimmune Kawasaki syndrome in children. Physician-scientists, however, are becoming extinct in the United States, comprising only about 1% of all physicians today, and with few young clinician researchers joining […]

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*The Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940-1941*

The author is Paul Dickson, and the subtitle is The Forgotten Story of How America Forged a Powerful Army Before Pearl Harbor. For one thing, I enjoyed the examples of “fast action” in this book.  For instance, the U.S. passed draft registration Sept.16, 1940. All men between 21 and 45 are supposed to register, and […]

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The rise and fall of the corporate R&D lab

Of course, Bell Labs itself later grew to be one of the marquees of commercial labs—in the late 1960s it employed 15,000 people including 1,200 PhDs, who between them made too many important inventions to list, from the transistor and the photovoltaic cell to the first digitally scrambled voice audio (in 1943) and the first […]

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From Christianity to liberalism

Daniel Klein sets the record straight: Olsson: But was it Christianity in particular, or monotheism more generally, that opened up the road to liberalism? Don’t other religious traditions and civilizations also have ideas on individuals, moral agency, and the conscience? Klein: Monotheism is necessary but not sufficient. Other monotheistic religions didn’t have moral agency, moral […]

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How bad was the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918?

Yes it was a terrible tragedy, but many locales had much worse events fairly recently: Between 1917 and 1918 New York City’s crude mortality rate increased by 3.173 deaths per 1000 persons.  While tragic, the hollow circles in Figure 1 depict 12 other years where the year-over-year increase in mortality exceeded the magnitude of the […]

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The lost colony of Roanoke was never lost, rather it integrated with Native Americans

The English colonists who settled the so-called Lost Colony before disappearing from history simply went to live with their native friends — the Croatoans of Hatteras, according to a new book. “They were never lost,” said Scott Dawson, who has researched records and dug up artifacts where the colonists lived with the Indians in the […]

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