Economics, Untouchables, Pigs, Linguistics, Uber, Streetwear


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How To Think Like An Economist

J. Bradford DeLong | Grasping Reality | 15th July 2017

“A large part of economics involves a unique way of thinking about the world that is closely linked with the analytical tools economists use, and that is couched in a particular technical language and a particular set of data. While one can get a lot out of sociology and political science courses without learning to think like a sociologist or a political scientist (because of their focus on institutional description), it is not possible to get much out of an economics course without learning to think like an economist” (8,600 words)

Growing Up As An Untouchable

Sujatha Gidla | Literary Hub | 18th July 2017

Family memoir. Interesting throughout. “Every day in an Indian newspaper you can read of an untouchable beaten or killed for wearing sandals, for riding a bicycle. In your own town or village, everyone already knows your caste. But how do people know your caste when you go elsewhere, to a place where no one knows you? There they will ask you: What caste are you? You cannot avoid this question. And you cannot refuse to answer. By tradition, everyone has the right to know” (4,040 words)

Hogs Of New York

Gwynn Guilford | Quartz | 16th July 2017

Pigs were as plentiful in the streets of early-19C Manhattan as cars are now — one hog to every five humans, 20,000 in all. Poor New Yorkers kept hogs as a “last vestige of economic self-sufficiency”. But as the fast-growing city expanded northward in the 1820s, paving over farmland, there was nowhere left for livestock to go — save for the streets and a few last open spaces downtown which gentrifiers wanted as parks. “The city was increasingly split between pro-pork and pro-park” (1,800 words)

Is Linguistics A Science?

Arika Okrent | Aeon | 18th July 2017

No. Chomsky revolutionised linguistics by arguing that a given language was not the sum of possible utterances, but a system of rules that generated acceptable sentences. This was a “big, exciting idea”, but a highly speculative one. We cannot yet list all the rules for one language, let alone all languages, so we cannot prove or disprove the existence of a universal grammar that was central to Chomsky’s conjecture, still less the existence of an “innate language faculty” in the mind (3,500 words)

Uber’s Cutthroat Culture

Caroline O'Donovan & Priya Anand | Buzzfeed | 18th July 2017

Uber’s business model has “dramatically and irrevocably changed the way the world gets around”, but only at the cost of a merciless culture in which workers are expendable, the workday has no clear start or end, and ethics are an inconvenience. Uber is hard on its drivers, even harder on its office staff. “It’s not about burnout, it’s more about this incredibly pervasive toxic atmosphere of not knowing what’s going to get you in trouble. What’s exhausting is being around the Uberness of it all” (6,600 words)

Beggars And Choosers

Johannes Lenhard | Vestoj | 14th July 2017

How the homeless dress. Insights based on conversations with street-people in Paris. The most prized piece of wardrobe is a pair of waterproof shoes. The next is a decent-looking coat. An outward appearance of normality makes it “easier to earn money, easier to approach people on a more or less equal level”. If you look “broken” or dirty, “people keep a distance”. The coat doubles as “the smallest possible of homes, a sleeping bag and a comforter when sleeping rough” (3,200 words)

Video of the day: Andrea Amati Carlo IX 1566

What to expect:

Marco Rizzi plays Robert Schumann’s second violin sonata on a 16C Amati (10’43”)

Thought for the day

The more precise you are, in general the more likely you are to be wrong
J.L. Austin

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