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February 25, 2014

Two very different interpretations of one event

50 years later, two books reexamine the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese.

"New Details In One Of NYC's Most Infamous Murders Show The Scary Power Of 'The Bystander Effect'".

Kitty Genovese's neighbors — who did nothing to help her as she was brutally raped and murdered in Kew Gardens 50 years ago — were even more indifferent to the young victim's screams than has previously been reported, according to a new book.

"Debunking the myth of Kitty Genovese".

But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Nor­ton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.

The account of the murder at the top of this story is accurate, based on Cook’s reporting. Instead of a narrative of apathy, the media could have told instead of the people who tried to help, and of the complex circumstances — many boiling down to a lack not of compassion, but of information — that prevented some ­others from calling for aid.

December 08, 2013

"At Last, The 'Netflix For Books' Is Here"

Could be good

Meet Oyster, the book subscription app that wants to do for books what Netflix did for movies and what Spotify did for music; provide an all-you-can-read experience for a monthly fee.

December 02, 2013

"15 Famous Business Books Summarized In One Sentence Each"

I think most business books could be much shorter, so I think this is a fine timesaver.

October 15, 2013

"A Surprising Case Against Foreign Aid"

Review in the New York Times[!] of economist Angus Deaton's new book

In his new book, Angus Deaton, an expert’s expert on global poverty and foreign aid, puts his considerable reputation on the line and declares that foreign aid does more harm than good. It corrupts governments and rarely reaches the poor, he argues, and it is high time for the paternalistic West to step away and allow the developing world to solve its own problems.

Deaton is a very distinguished economist currently at Princeton. But I'm pretty sure the Left will discover he's a corrupt racist or something.

October 07, 2013

Almost every day the Net shows me more things than are "dreamt of in [my] philosophy"

"Q&A: The Women Who Write Dinosaur Erotica".

September 25, 2013

Free college math textbooks

Courtesy of William F. Trench, Andrew G. Cowles Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Trinity University:

previously published by  Brooks/Cole  Thomson Learning, 2000.
previously published by  Brooks/Cole  Thomson Learning, 2000.
previously published by Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning, 2000.
previously published by Pearson Education, 2003.
previously published by Harper & Row, 1978.
previously published by Harper & Row, 1978.
Instructor solutions manuals are available request, subject to verification
of faculty status.

September 23, 2013


List of undergraduate and graduate econometrics textbooks, with brief annotations and links to supplementary materials for them.

Perhaps also useful to students is a page of links to free online econometrics books and class notes. 

September 16, 2013

Review of Dumbing Down the Courts

The official release of John R. Lott, Jr.'s Dumbing Down the Courts is today. (Disclosure: I went to graduate school at UCLA with John.)

This book does a fine job of arguing a single, important point. Over the last twenty-five years or so individuals who would be the most effective federal judges are increasingly likely to suffer delays in being confirmed and are less likely to actually be confirmed. John states his thesis on the first page:

Who are the nominees that make it through the confirmation process to become a federal judge? Are they the brightest people who have the most detailed and sophisticated knowledge of the law? Are the most successful lower court judges also the most likely to get promoted to serve on higher courts?

Surprisingly, the qualities that make someone a successful judge also make them less likely to be confirmed for the same reason that smart, persuasive people are rarely asked to be jurors.

John supports his thesis in two principal ways. In Chapter 2, “Supreme Battles,” he provides some anecdotal evidence. For example, the nominations of Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg were opposed effectively because they were considered too “brilliant”; Anthony Kennedy was acceptable because he wasn’t considered as smart (pp. 75-76). Elena Kagan was confirmed with fewer votes than Sonia Sotomayor because Kagan was considered “more formidable” (p. 81).

John presents the bulk of his argument in Chapter 4, “Who Has the Toughest Time Getting Confirmed?” This chapter uses regression analysis to look at how nominees of different quality are treated. But what is “quality”? John uses two types of measures. First are attributes known at the time, or shortly after, of nomination: whether the nominee attended a top law school, whether he or she served on the law review, what type, if any, of judicial clerkship the nominee served, and what the nominee’s ABA rating was. The second measure is based on the work of two previous papers that examined how much influence serving judges have had: how often their decisions are cited and by whom. These measures, along with various control variables, are included in regressions explaining the time between nomination and confirmation and the probability of confirmation. (The controls include the legal and professional background of the nominees, their demographic backgrounds, and the political environment.) 

Continue reading "Review of Dumbing Down the Courts" »

September 14, 2013

"The Book No One Can Read"

Brief article on the Voynich Manuscript

August 22, 2013

"New tools make self-publishing less daunting for aspiring Triangle authors"

This article claims that "43 percent of all print books in 2011 were self-published".
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