Recent Posts

    Sat, Jul 19, 2014

    This is Just to Say he Wishes

    Had I the heavens’ enripened fruits, Abloom with their epicuticular wax, Cherry and sloe and chickasaw fruits, Blue damson, greengage, mirabelle snacks, I would make for you plum jam so sweet: But I, being peckish, ate yours while alone I have eaten the plums you kept out of the heat Tread softly because there may be a stone. (After this.)
    Sun, May 4, 2014

    Gary Becker, an appreciation by Michel Foucault

    Gary Becker, University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago, has died at the age of eighty three. I am certainly not going to attempt an obituary or assessment. But something Tim Carmody said on Twitter caught my eye: “People sometimes talk about ‘neoliberalism’ as a kind of intellectual bogeyman. Gary Becker was the actual guy.” In a somewhat similar way, people sometimes talked about ‘poststructuralism’ as a kind of intellectual bogeyman, and Michel Foucault was the actual guy.
    Tue, Apr 29, 2014

    Success Breeds Success, Up to a Point

    Back in February, when Flappy Bird Frenzy was at its peak, I wrote about some of the social aspects of success and failure in cultural markets, inspired in part by a discussion on ATP. I drew on some work from the early 2000s by Duncan Watts, Matt Salganik, and Peter Sheridan Dodds that experimentally established that there was a strong measure of arbitrariness to success. You can read the original post for the details.
    Wed, Mar 26, 2014

    Silver vs Krugman

    Nate Silver’s relaunched FiveThirtyEight has been getting some flak from critics—including many former fans—for failing to live up to expectations. Specifically, critics have argued that instead of foxily modeling data and working the numbers, Silver and his co-contributors are looking more like regular old opinion columnists with rather better chart software. Paul Krugman has been a prominent critic, arguing that “For all the big talk about data-driven analysis, what [the site] actually delivers is sloppy and casual opining with a bit of data used, as the old saying goes, the way a drunkard uses a lamppost — for support, not illumination.” Silver has put his tongue at least part way into his cheek and pushed back a little with an article titled, in true Times fashion, “For Columnist, a Change of Tone”.
    Mon, Feb 24, 2014

    Powered by Hugo

    I was sick as a parrot with a head cold over the weekend. Being unable to do any proper writing, naturally I started messing around with my website. I’ve had some sort of website since around November of 1995, and have kept a more or less regular blog since 2002. Content accumulates, as it turns out. I have about 450,000 words of the stuff here, spread out over about 1,400 separate pages.
    Sat, Feb 15, 2014

    Social Aspects of Success and Failure in Cultural Markets

    This week on ATP, Marco and John had a discussion about Flappy Bird, the irritatingly addictive and unexpectedly successful iOS game that was pulled from the App Store by its developer at the height of its popularity. The hosts’ views shifted around a little during the discussion, but I think it’s fair to say that they had a basic difference of opinion. Marco thought that, at bottom, the game succeeded for good reasons having to do with its own design.
    Thu, Jan 23, 2014

    Plain Text, Papers, Pandoc

    Over the past few months, I’ve had several people ask me about the tools I use to put papers together. I maintain a page of resources somewhat grandiosely headed “Writing and Presenting Social Science”. Really it just makes public some configuration files and templates for my text editor and related tools. Things have changed a little recently—which led to people asking the questions—so I will try to lay out the current setup here.
    Tue, Jan 7, 2014

    An issue in Mavericks with com.apple.IconServicesAgent

    Executive Summmary: If you are having an issue with IconServicesAgent consuming all your CPU time, open a terminal window and do this: mkdir ${TMPDIR}/com.apple.IconServices This will resolve the issue. Read on for more details. Recently I started having an intermittent problem with a process called com.apple.IconServicesAgent on my Mac. Google tells me that I am not alone, but diagnosing the issue and solving it has proven quite annoying. The symptoms are straightforward.
    Tue, Nov 26, 2013

    Karl Marx or Pope Francis?

    Pope Francis’s new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, has been getting some attention today, mostly thanks to its reiteration of some long-standing Catholic doctrine on social justice and the market. So, here is a quiz to see whether you can distinguish statements by Pope Francis from statements by Karl Marx. I figured someone was likely to do this anyway, so why not be first to the market? It’s fair to say that the Pope and Karl Marx differ significantly on numerous points of theory as well as on what people asking questions at job talks refer to as the policy implications of their views.
    Sun, Nov 17, 2013

    Two New Papers

    Here are two new papers from me. The first, co-authored with Marion Fourcade, is “Classification Situations.” It’s forthcoming in Accounting, Organizations, and Society. Here’s the abstract: This article examines the stratifying effects of economic classifications. We argue that in the neoliberal era market institutions increasingly use actuarial techniques to split and sort individuals into classification situations that shape life-chances. While this is a general and increasingly pervasive process, our main empirical illustration comes from the transformation of the credit market in the United States.

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