Economics, Sex, Motherhood, Blackmail, Secession


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The Practitioner’s Challenge

Arnold Kling | Library Of Economics | 6th July 2017

In praise of Richard Bookstaber’s The End Of Theory, which argues for an economics grounded in real-world complexity rather than stylised models. “All of the major fields in economics are inclined to follow strict technical procedures at the expense of realism. In the 1500s, if mapmakers had been similarly inward-looking and rigid, they would have continued to draw maps of the globe that ignored the lands discovered by explorers, insisting that the state of cartography is good” (3,100 words)

Why Are There Two Sexes?

Pradeep Mutalik | Quanta | 7th July 2017

Why do most large complex animal species have two sexes? Asexual reproduction can efficiently produce twice as many offspring as sexual reproduction without the complications of finding and courting a mate. So there must be other big benefits to having two sexes — but if so, why shouldn’t three sexes be even better? Many biological hypotheses have been proposed to explain the two-sex norm. But two puzzles described here suggest that the answer may lie in mathematics (1,600 words)

No One Thinks Of Rilke In Recovery

Claire Jarvis | n+1 | 6th July 2017

On giving birth. “If being a pregnant woman can be a rude awakening to the ways womanly bodies are wrongly made into public property, motherly bodies are, in fact, only partially your own. You share this body, newly separated into two parts, with your child, constantly lifting up and putting down, feeding and shushing, touching and caressing. I was not prepared for how long I would feel like my baby was a part of me, and how reluctant I would be to accept that he was no longer inside the shell of my body” (1,250 words)

Why Is Blackmail A Crime?

Eugene Volokh | Volokh Conspiracy | 6th July 2017

“It’s clear why we criminalise extortion by threat of violence (pay me or I’ll burn down your business): It’s a threat to do something that you have no right to do. But in the threat, ‘Pay me $10,000 or I’ll reveal that you had an affair’, all components are legal: He is free to pay you $10,000. You are free to reveal that he had an affair. Yet combine them together as a conditional threat and it’s a crime. The fact that so much legal and commonplace behavior is very similar to blackmail causes practical problems” (2,050 words)

When To Secede And Succeed

Tyler Cowen | Bloomberg | 6th July 2017

When is secession justified? Why do most Americans think that the War of Independence was right, but that a current state should not leave the Union? “The real choice isn’t secede vs. don’t secede, but rather secede vs. wait and see if things get better. When you add in the value of the wait-and-see option, the correct choice is usually not to secede, unless one is living under unacceptable tyranny”. On that calculation, Scotland and Catalonia should maintain their ties with Britain and Spain (850 words)

Video of the day: The Darkest Truth About Love

What to expect:

School of Life animation by Hannah Jacobs and Lara Lee based on a text by Alain de Botton (1’48”)

Thought for the day

There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception
James Thurber

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