We had the second monthly Atlanta Slate Star Codex meetup yesterday and a fine time was had by all. Fewer people attended (only four) – but I found the conversation just as interesting – it lasted the same amount of time too – a little over three hours.
- Wonder drugs and self-reported results
- Machine learning
- The evils of the modern medical system
- “Lodge Doctors”
- China and enlightened despots
- Infrastructure spending
And for those keeping track at home – the economic theory I tried to explains was Solow’s “Steady State Theory of Capital” – essentially over time the depreciation of existing capital (essentially the same as infrastructure in our conversation) will equal investment – therefore leading to a leveling off of capital goods/infrastructure and growth. Short version – every thing rusts – the more stuff you have, the more rust. And also catch-up growth, and cutting edge growth. My thought (with phrasing in hindsight) is that America is in a cutting edge growth phase, with an old population, whereas China is still in catch up growth, with a young population (albeit one aging rapidly.)
The next meetup will be at the same place – sometime soon after Thanksgiving.
A couple of insights from Jerry Seinfeld
- He still practices his craft every day – at the age of 64
- This excert on comedy vs rhetoric
Are you grateful these days that your comedic muse didn’t lead you down a more political path?
I like to pursue my own idiosyncratic avenues. If I thought I could do something there that the average comedian can’t do — but I watch Bill Maher or Seth Meyers and I go, I can’t do that well with that; they’re great at it. But I can talk about raisins in ways other people can’t.
That’s important too.
I hate the presumption of importance. I don’t like when comedians think what they’re doing is important. That’s not a comedic perspective, for me. I was watching some W.C. Fields with a friend the other day. We could not believe the timing, the material, the performances. Perfect. We wouldn’t change a thing. That’s how eternal comedy is. What political material from 15, 20 years ago do you want to hear? None of it, really. The content of it isn’t, largely, comedic. It’s rhetoric.
I came across this article on Ars Technica “First, Kill All The Experts” and I was reminded of the importance of language.
The gist of the article is that people distrust experts leaving us vulnerable to the dangers of global warming, privatized health care, etc. The confusion is that of scholarship vs expertise. Seemingly if you can’t run tests or repeat the same experiments over and over you’re just well versed in the theories and literature. Seemingly one would give more credence the the predictions of a structural engineer about a structure than a climatologists about the climate (or a macro-economist about the economy) .
That was the basic cultural theory of America: that our Anglo-Protestant forebears were so deep-dipped in the Protestant work ethic — and so constantly mindful that they might be called before their Maker at any moment to make an accounting of their lives — that they didn’t need a king bossing them around. They bossed themselves around, like enlightened people do — that’s classical liberalism in a nutshell.
From the Great War on YouTube
Peace is within sight, but not within reach
From Tom Lehrer
Like many contemporary philosophers he enjoyed giving advice to people happier than he was