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PARTY OF YOUTH UPDATE: John Kerry Offers Sharp Rebuke of Trump at Harvard IOP — And Says He Isn’t …

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PARTY OF YOUTH UPDATE: John Kerry Offers Sharp Rebuke of Trump at Harvard IOP — And Says He Isn’t Ruling Out a Presidential Run.

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StatsGuru
14 days ago
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I read it as IHOP, and there actually is one near the Kennedy School.

All Hail Dalton Conley

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Conley describes his early academic work as “lefty sociology.” His Ph.D. thesis was on the black-white wealth gap and he dedicated his early career to studying the transmission of health and wealth between parents and children.

At N.Y.U., Conley kept getting into disagreements with geneticists, arguing that their methods were dangerously naïve. It seemed to him implausible that studying only twins — the gold standard of genetics research — was enough to teach us the difference between nature and nurture. But over time, he decided that it wasn’t enough to just argue. Conley is an academic, and even within that tortured group he is something of a masochist. At that time he was a tenured professor, the kind of gig most people see as the endgame of an academic career, and yet he decided to go back and grind out another Ph.D., this time in genetics. He went into his program believing that our social environment is largely the cause of our outcomes, and that biology is usually the dependent variable. By the end of his time, he says, the causal arrow in his mind had pretty much flipped the other way: “I tried to show for a range of outcomes that the genetic models were overstating the impact of genetics because of their crazy assumptions.” He sighs. “But I ended up showing that they’re right.”

From the New York Times piece on Geno-Economics (Tyler linked to it yesterday also).

The post All Hail Dalton Conley appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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StatsGuru
26 days ago
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It's all genetics. Luckily, once we realize that, we can fight against the traits we didn't like in our parents.

[INSERT OBVIOUS PUNS HERE]: A Real Pick-Me-Up: Viagra Could Become The Next Cancer Drug. Related…

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[INSERT OBVIOUS PUNS HERE]: A Real Pick-Me-Up: Viagra Could Become The Next Cancer Drug.

Related: Will Viagra and Cialis Extend Lifespans?

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StatsGuru
32 days ago
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My female dog takes a viagra type drug to help with her heart problems.

Maybe We Won’t All Die in a Pandemic

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The high frequency of modern travel has led to concerns about a devastating pandemic since a lethal pathogen strain could spread worldwide quickly. Many historical pandemics have arisen following pathogen evolution to a more virulent form. However, some pathogen strains invoke immune responses that provide partial cross-immunity against infection with related strains. Here, we consider a mathematical model of successive outbreaks of two strains: a low virulence strain outbreak followed by a high virulence strain outbreak. Under these circumstances, we investigate the impacts of varying travel rates and cross-immunity on the probability that a major epidemic of the high virulence strain occurs, and the size of that outbreak. Frequent travel between subpopulations can lead to widespread immunity to the high virulence strain, driven by exposure to the low virulence strain. As a result, major epidemics of the high virulence strain are less likely, and can potentially be smaller, with more connected subpopulations. Cross-immunity may be a factor contributing to the absence of a global pandemic as severe as the 1918 influenza pandemic in the century since.

From a new paper in bioRxiv, the biological preprint service analagous to arXiv.

Hat tip: Paul Kedrosky.

The post Maybe We Won’t All Die in a Pandemic appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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StatsGuru
36 days ago
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So previous pandemics happened because we didn't travel fast enough and often enough.

Cheesecake dreams

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I came across some interesting tidbits while putting together a post on LA mass transit over at Econlog, which I’ll share with you over here.

1.  It seems that in today’s election the affluent neighborhood of Eagle’s Landing will try to secede from the majority black city of Stockbridge, Georgia.  (BTW, don’t read “black” as poor and “affluent” as white.  Stockbridge is not a poor city, and a substantial number of affluent blacks live in Eagle’s Landing.)  What caught my eye is the motivation for this attempt at secession:

The Eagle’s Landing plan seeks to merge into its boundaries the primest real estate and wealthiest households from the city of Stockbridge, leaving behind a smaller, mostly African American population with fewer resources to pay for Stockbridge city services. The Eagle’s Landing city proposal will be voted on via ballot referendum on November 6, but Stockbridge residents who live outside the Eagle’s Landing footprint—the people who will be most hampered by the division—are not eligible to vote on it. Meanwhile, neither lawsuits nor letters from global finance agencies warning that the proposal could wreck economies across Georgia have been able to stop it.

And the reason for tearing Stockbridge apart to start this new city? It has something to do with cheesecake. Or at least cheesecake is what was emphasized in a conversation with Vicki Consiglio, the chair of the Committee for the City of Eagle’s Landing, held at the Eagle’s Landing Country Club.

 “I serve on the Henry County zoning board,” said Consiglio, “and so I kept seeing all of these places like Bojangle’s, Waffle Houses, dollar stores, and all this going up in our county. And I was like, why can’t we get a Cheesecake Factory, or a P.F. Chang’s or a Houston’s? We have areas that have high incomes, so what’s the deal?” . . .

According to Consiglio, The Cheesecake Factory did consider coming to Stockbridge at one point, but balked after an income study revealed that the average median income was too low to justify placing a restaurant there. Consiglio blames this on Stockbridge, where median household income is $54,769. So in 2016, Consiglio and her neighborhood colleagues, some of them former Stockbridge city officials, began meeting to figure out what they could do to land if not a Cheesecake Factory, then a Cheesecake Factory-esque restaurant, because the dining halls and pubs in the country club would no longer do.

I’m sure Tyler Cowen or Scott Alexander could find a witty title for this story, but I’m sort of speechless.  Any attempt on my part would (already has?) come across as condescending.  BTW, there actually is a serious economic story here, relating to questions such as who absorbs Stockbridge’s bond obligations.

As an aside, I like key lime cheesecake–how’s that for bad taste! 

2.  Last week my wife and I drove through LA’s skid row neighborhood, which has an extremely dense concentration of homeless people.  This is by far the poorest neighborhood I’ve ever seen while traveling throughout the US.  Just a few miles away you have the ultra rich suburb of Beverly Hills.  But here’s what I find surprising, the difference in poverty rates between Skid Row and Beverly Hills is less than I would have imagined.  Beverly Hills is 10.2% poor while Skid Row is 41.8% poor.

You may be asking, “What’s so confusing out that; Skid Row is 4 times more poor, exactly what’s you’d expect.”  No, I get that it’s poorer; I’m surprised the gap is not even larger.  If you asked me to guess, I might have estimated that Beverly Hills was 2% to 4% poor—a few live-in nannies, plus the odd 30-year old living in his parents’ basement, while Skid Row was 80% poor.  I’m surprised the gap is not even larger.

I’m too lazy to do the research, but is there some sort of national tendency for poverty rates to cluster close to the national average of 14%, regardless of how rich or poor a neighborhood is?

3.  LA’s homeless problem got me thinking about the today’s rent control referendum in California.  Obviously, I oppose all rent controls.  At the same time, I doubt that rent controls are a major cause of homelessness.  Think about the following three groups of people:

a.  My daughter, and 5 other UCLA students who share two small rooms and one bath in a dorm.

b.  Six illegal immigrants from Fujian who share a single room in a Chinatown apartment building, work in a restaurant, and send money home.

c.  Six homeless men living in tents on LA sidewalks.

While LA’s housing policies undoubtedly make things a bit more difficult for the homeless, I’m really having trouble seeing how they could be a major cause of the problem.  Around here, fast food restaurants are desperate to get unskilled labor, even at a starting wage of $13.50/hour ($27,000/year.)  Now you may argue that $27,000/ year is a pretty low income in LA’s housing market.  But that’s entirely missing the point.  At no time in all of human history has it been assumed that poor people would be able to afford to live alone.  The expectation has always been that lower income people will live in groups, to spread housing costs.  If you have 4 people making $27,000/year, their combined income is easily large enough to share a decent LA apartment.  Lots of young professionals share apartments in California.

Please don’t read this post as offering advice to homeless people.  I understand that they may not be able to do what I suggest in the post.  My actual point is entirely different—homelessness has very little to do with high housing costs.  The reasons why it might be hard for 4 homeless people to get jobs flipping hamburgers and then share an apartment have little to do with cost; rather there are other more complex social issues.  Maybe some have drug issues that make it hard to hold a job.  Maybe some have mental health issues that make it hard to live with roommates.  Maybe they face discrimination from landlords. I could imagine any number of reasons why it’s hard to get housing.  What I can’t imagine is how any of this could be fixed by building more housing.  If I’m missing something here, please enlighten me.

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StatsGuru
36 days ago
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Very much like the last paragraph.

Public Service Announcement

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Having recently dealt with some of the same customer service issues at both Vanguard and Fidelity, I can make these recommendations with confidence:

1) Keep your money at Vanguard.

2) If you’ve made the unfortunate mistake of keeping some of your money at Fidelity and you ever need customer service, and if your customer service representative turns out to be named Cameron Marcil, hang up immediately and try again.

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StatsGuru
104 days ago
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Good advice.
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