Sunday, November 11, 2018

The End of the Great War, 100 Years Ago Today

Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Sonny Fortune, RIP

I don't suppose he'll be best remembered for this album, but slide it on over to minute 8:00 or so and enjoy Sonny and the band.* Then stay on while the star of the show, Pete Cosey, truly and completely shreds it. Jazz that rocked like nothing before or since. Sonny was a part of that, and much more.

* Better, find it on Spotify and play it through some good speakers or headphones, loud, without commercial interruption...

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Dexter Gordon

Because we need some beauty when the world gets ugly.

Friday, October 26, 2018

CA Prop 10

A YES vote removes some state restrictions on local rent control ordinances. I like letting local governments set these kinds of policies, even when they make mistakes. So I might vote for it. But I believe rent control is at best a distraction from good solutions to our housing affordability problem. Over time, it may well make matters worse. So I might vote NO... Still mulling it over.

Cities! Education!

"Our instrumental variables estimate is that on average, an extra year of schooling [city average] is associated with 22.0% higher hourly wages across cities." (Glaeser and Lu) Their methodology, if valid, implies that this is a causal effect of human capital spillovers, not just productive cities building more schools or attracting better-educated migrants.

A human capital spillover of this magnitude seems enormous to me, given that the typical estimate of the individual-level return to a year of schooling might be on the order of 10%. It's as if a city gets a 200% bonus on the return to schooling because smarter people get to interact with other smarter people.

The authors note that although huge, their estimate doesn't come close to explaining the bulk of China's growth in per capita income over the past three decades. Still, it's pretty good news for education- and city-boosters... like me!