Monday, July 25, 2011

Links July 25, 2011

The big-spending blues by Timothy Garton Ash :
"CALL me Oswald Spengler if you must, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that United States and the European Union are engaged in competitive decadence. The West's two leading polities seem incapable of tackling the debt and deficit burdens which their versions of liberal democratic capitalism have built up. Their politicians dance like drunkards along the cliff's edge of default."

From SCIENTIFIC american interview with Ducan Watts, the author of Everything is Obvious: Once you Know the Answer The Anti-Predictor: A Chat with Mathematical Sociologist Duncan Watts:
"I started out life in physics and then mathematics, and at some point I switched over to become a sociologist—and in the process of transitioning, I noticed this interesting phenomenon: When people perceived me as a mathematician, and I would describe my research, they would say, "Wow, that's really fascinating. How do you figure these things out? It's complicated and difficult." But when a few years later I was describing the same work in terms of social phenomena and the behavior of people, fads and historical events, success and failure, and so on, people would say, "That sounds kind of obvious. Don't we all know that?""

Andrew Gelman's review of the book here:

Reinvent the toilet challenge from Gates foundation.

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