Richard Thaler, Eastern Europe, Infinity, Elmore Leonard, Brooks Brothers

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Nuts To Nudges

Richard Thaler | Chicago Booth Review | 7th May 2018

Nobel laureate Richard Thaler recounts the growth of behavioural economics, and his own work in the field building on the founding insights of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. “Random errors cancel out on average. But if errors are predictable, departures from rational choice models can also be predictable. This was a crucial insight. It implies that, at least in principle, it would be possible to improve the explanatory power of economics by adding psychological realism” (12,400 words)

A Silver Thread

Jacob Mikanowski | LARB | 15th May 2018

Tales from 17th and 18th century Eastern Europe, a vast and violent borderland between Islam and Christianity populated and plundered by princes and pirates, Cossacks and Tatars, sufis, saints, poets, giants, and a highwayman with three hearts. “A visitor to Vilnius would have heard six languages spoken in the streets; they could have heard prayers conducted in at least five more. The city had churches belonging to five denominations, as well as a synagogue and a mosque” (6,700 words)

David Foster Wallace, Georg Cantor, And Infinity

Jim Holt | Literary Hub | 16th May 2018

When David Foster Wallace wanted to understand infinity, he turned to the work of Georg Cantor, a 19th century German mathematician whose work on infinity produced the first major theoretical advances since Galileo’s. Cantor was a great thinker but a worrisome role model. “Between frequent breakdowns and hospitalizations, he pondered the theological implications of the infinite and, with equal ardor, pursued the theory that Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare” (3,000 words)

Elmore Leonard’s Gritty Westerns

Nathan Ward | Crimereads | 16th May 2018

Comparing Elmore Leonard’s early classic Westerns with his later crime novels. The scenery changes, but the characters endure. “In writing about Apaches, cavalry and rustlers, Leonard developed his fondness for characters who were ‘good, bad, and really bad’. Much is familiar in these Western entertainments, with the respectful rivals on opposite sides of the law, failed heists, and robbers whose loyalty proves weak on the run. His outlaws have little honor, but they do accumulate regrets” (1,800 words)

In Praise Of Brooks Brothers

Matthew Walther | The Week | 16th May 2018

Forty American presidents have worn Brooks Brothers, including Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated in a Brooks Brothers frock coat. The brand is conservatism at its best, signifying politeness, responsibility, and common sense. “The first decent shirts I ever owned as a college student were four immaculate white Oxfords in their billowing Traditional fit. Walking into a job interview, I felt confident and relaxed, like a modest but elegant 30-foot sloop setting out for a quiet afternoon cruise” (1,170 words)

Video of the day Stems

What to expect:

Introduction to the art of stop-motion puppetry. By Ainslie Henderson, music by Poppy Ackroyd (2’24”)

Thought for the day

For the world to be interesting, you have to be manipulating it all the time
Brian Eno

Podcast The Art Of The Spiel | Lexicon Valley

John McWhorter traces the history — and decline — of oratory in American politics
(41m 40s)

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