Keynes on what is required to make a great economist

The study of economics does not seem to require any specialized gifts of an unusually high order. Is it not, intellectually regarded, a very easy subject compared with the higher branches of philosophy and pure science? Yet good, or even competent, economists are the rarest of birds. An easy subject, at which very few excel! […]

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*American Purpose*

…a new magazine, media project, and intellectual community called American Purpose is launching at www.americanpurpose.com, and can also be found on Twitter at @americanpurpose. American Purpose, through digital publishing, conversation and convening, and podcasts, will offer a spirited examination of politics and culture. Our aim is to support the revitalization of liberal democracy at home, […]

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Thoughts on Peter Burke’s new book *The Polymath*

1. No one is really a polymath. 2. No one is really a unimath, for that matter. 3. Many supposed polymaths apply a relatively small number of learning techniques to many fields.  They remain specialized, although their modes of specialization happen not to line up with how the academic disciplines are divided.  Say you apply […]

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My Conversation with Audrey Tang

For me one of the most fun episodes, here is the audio, video, and transcript.  And here is the longer than ever before summary, befitting the chat itself: Audrey Tang began reading classical works like the Shūjīng and Tao Te Ching at the age of 5 and learned the programming language Perl at the age […]

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Now is an interesting time to visit New York City

And yes, you can find a parking spot in most parts of Manhattan these days, another novelty. Did I mention that my hotel room cost less than a third of what I’ve normally paid? I visited the Museum of Modern Art, operating under stringent visitor restrictions and with its tourist clientele mostly gone. I had […]

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European paintings show a rise in trustworthiness

Building on recent advances in social cognition, we design an algorithm to automatically generate trustworthiness evaluations for the facial action units (smile, eye brows, etc.) of European portraits in large historical databases. Our results show that trustworthiness in portraits increased over the period 1500–2000 paralleling the decline of interpersonal violence and the rise of democratic […]

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Crypto art markets in everything

Christie’s is set to sell its first nonfungible token in an upcoming auction of what has been characterized as “the largest artwork” in the history of Bitcoin (BTC). Art historian turned blockchain artist Robert Alice has created “Portrait of a Mind” — a monumental series of 40 paintings stretching over 50 meters in length. Drawing on the […]

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My Conversation with Alex Ross

Here is the video, audio, and transcript.  Of course Alex has a new book out Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, which explores the complicated legacy of Wagner and music more generally.  We learn Alex’s nomination for the greatest pop album ever made, but many of my questions focused on progress in […]

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Against digitalized subscription services for the movies

Quality public taste is a public good, and right now we are taxing it: Another response to my whining might be to tell me that I live in a world of cinematic plenty, especially considering my various subscriptions and DVD collection. That is also entirely fair, but do keep in mind the original worry: that […]

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My Conversation with Matt Yglesias

Substantive, interesting, and fun throughout, here is the audio, video, and transcript.  For more do buy Matt’s new book One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger.  Here is the CWT summary: They discussed why it’s easier to grow Tokyo than New York City, the governance issues of increasing urban populations, what Tyler got right […]

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