Experts, amateurs, taste, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression — Amity Shlaes, and July links

* The Wall Street Journal’s Neal Templin argues that “If It’s Not by Tolstoy, Hold On to Your Rubles.” I argue that he’s failing to take into account opportunity costs: if you spend enough time and money (see: prices, gas) going back and forth to the library, or you regularly trade books with friends, the library isn’t as advantageous. On the other hand, you don’t have to move all those books you acquire, which is a problem that’s grown in my mind since I’m now dealing with it.

* Briefly noted: Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression gives a revisionist history of 1920 – 1945, focusing on the damage Roosevelt and other government leaders did to the economy.

Still, the conventional response is generally along the lines of: 1) Roosevelt had to do something that at least had the appearance of action, lest the country fall to fascism or communism; 2) economists lacked the statistical tools of today and hence didn’t understand the nature of what they fought; and, 3),

Tariffs and protectionism still take their deserved beating, however, and modern politicians might want to note that. Those opposed to NAFTA should remember that trade in both goods and ideas are beneficial to both parties. Though reading The Forgotten Man brings one into a different world, but ceaseless pandering from leaders and the refusal to acknowledge hard trade-offs almost certainly worsened the problems faced by the United States and world. Some things don’t change much.

* Seriously:

Propped up by a culture of fear, TSA has become a bureaucracy with too much power and little accountability. Where will the lunacy stop?

A question I’ve long asked myself. Those of you familiar with long, questionably trial scenes—as in Kafka, The Name of the Rose, Yalo, and others—are also by association familiar with airline security.

(And this isn’t a new observation—I wrote here:

That the TSA is denying the ability to fly to people without papers is infuriating. Have they not read the innumerable books about dystopias (1984, Brave New World, We…) and history/society (Foucault) on the subject of state surveillance? Evidently not. Slashdot commenters are unusually articulate about the issue. See my thoughts on its relation to reading here.)

* Programmers should play Go. So should writers, and for similar reasons.

EDIT: The original two links at the top of this list are now their own post, called Problems of Perception.

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