Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps?; & BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2023-02-25 Sa

Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?

Yes, it is The New York Times again.

And, yes, grave moral fault attaches to anyone who in any way boosts The New York Times and delays the day its megaphone vanishes.

Yes, it is Jonathan Wiseman again—he who back in the mid-2000s enthusiastically lent his megaphone to the right-wing attempt to deploy Donald Luskin to cancel the (very positive) contribution of Paul Krugman to the public sphere. “He’s an English major who is in over his head”, one of his seniors told me at the time. “He will learn.”

Well, he learned the wrong thing. As Paul Krugman said: If a Republican were to say that the world was flat, the lead the next day would be “opinions of the shape of the earth differ”. Paul Krugman meant it as hyperbole.

Jonathan Weisman has taken it as a business model:

Jonathan Weisman: In Fog of East Palestine’s Crisis, Politicians Write Their Own Stories: ‘To Democrats, the train derailment and chemical leak in the hamlet of East Palestine, Ohio, is a story of logic, action and consequences: Rail-safety regulations put in place by the Obama administration were intended to prevent just such accidents. The Trump administration gutted them. To Republicans, East Palestine is a symbol of something far larger and more emotional: a forgotten town in a conservative state, like so many others in Middle America, struggling for survival against an uncaring megacorporation and an unseeing government whose concerns have never included the likes of a town of 4,718 souls. Carrying those irreconcilable narratives, politicians have begun parading through East Palestine with their own agendas to pursue…

I found this—or, rather it found me—via Scott Lemieux:

Scott Lemieux: Let them eat MAGA hats: ‘Another one for the “Shape of the Earth Views Differ” files…

And Isaac Chotiner:

Isaac Chotiner:People this naïve should perhaps do something other than write about American politics for a living…

Isaac, of course, does not think that Weisman is naïve. But it is a polite alternative to calling him a lair.

I wholeheartedly endorse Chotiner’s conclusion that it is a very bad set of actors who are—for whatever rationalizations they come up with—paying this guy to write the news.


Share Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality

Leave a comment

But a lot of people think that it is.

I should say that I STRONGLY do not believe Ian Leslie on this: Marcus and Chiang have it right—Chat-GPT is autocomplete, and nothing more. But the strength of our desire to impose human mind capabilities on, well, pretty much everything cannot be denied, and has caught Ian Leslie:

Ian Leslie: The Real Black Mirror: ‘The best analogy for AI chatbots comes from sixteenth century magic…. I feel differently about AI than I did even a month ago, when I last wrote about it. Back then, I was leaning towards the Gary Marcus view… AI in its current form is merely simulating the ability to reason….. Given a bit of information, it guesses what comes next, based on its vast corpus of training data. That’s why its essays are boilerplate or error-ridden or both; it has no concept of truth or falsity. “It’s just auto complete,” says Marcus, “and auto complete gives you bullshit.” The science fiction writer Ted Chiang calls ChatGPT “a blurry JPEG of the web.” Marcus and Chiang make a good case for scepticism and I found it somewhat comforting…. A mindless copyist… may prove tremendously useful but it’s not going to be taking over the world anytime soon. However, AI researchers have been turning up some surprising results…

Chat-GPT: What are the three most influential pieces among Brad DeLong’s recent writings?

CHAT-GPT: Brad DeLong is a prolific economist and writer, and he has produced a wide range of influential writings on economic theory, policy, and history. Here are three recent pieces that have had a significant impact:

  1. “The Scary History of Inflation”: In this 2021 piece for Project Syndicate, DeLong examines the history of inflation and argues that central banks should err on the side of overshooting their inflation targets in order to avoid the kind of persistent low inflation that has plagued many advanced economies in recent years.

  2. “Why Wasn’t There a Keynesian Resurgence after the Global Financial Crisis?”: In this 2020 essay, DeLong explores the reasons why Keynesian economic ideas did not make a stronger comeback after the 2008 financial crisis, despite the fact that many of the policy responses to the crisis were broadly in line with Keynesian prescriptions.

  3. “The Reckoning for Social Democracy”: In this 2022 essay for Project Syndicate, DeLong argues that the rise of populist politics around the world is a direct result of the failure of social democratic parties to deliver on their promises of economic security and upward mobility. He contends that social democrats need to adopt a more ambitious and transformative agenda if they want to win back the trust of voters.

Even though those are not implausible titles for things I might have written (save that the 2022 Project Syndicate essay would have been “The Reckoning for Neoliberalism”, not for social democracy, because social democracy faced its reckoning in the late 1970s), none of those three exist.

“Blurred JPEG” and “autocomplete on Planet Krypton” seem to me to get it exactly right. The only thought here is the words and deeds of humans that underpin what Chat-GPT casts as shadows on the walls of the cave…

Nevertheless: Ian is worth reading.

Give a gift subscription

  • Kuen Lee: Will the New Industrial Policy Work?: ‘Prompted by climate change and the rise of China, industrial policy has made an unlikely return to government agendas. While the challenges facing humanity clearly require increased state intervention, policymakers need to learn from past failures and provide companies with the right balance of support and discipline…

  • Jeff Desjardins & al.: Visual Capitalist

  • Joseph Stiglitz: Who Stands for Freedom?: ‘For decades, Americans have been led to believe that liberty is more or less synonymous with anti-government market fundamentalism. But, because this conception of liberty fails to account for the complexities of real societies, it cannot possibly deliver the “freedom” it promises

  • Nichols Gruen: Casablanca as Plato’s Symposium (Srsly!)

  • Timothy Snyder: Making of Modern Ukraine, Lecture 1: Ukrainian Questions Answered by Russian Invasion…

Matthew C. Klein: Americans’ Incomes Are Rising Too Fast for 2% Inflation: ‘The question is whether that is enough of a problem to justify the costs of addressing it. The average American’s disposable income has been rising 10% a year since last summer thanks to falling tax payments (down 9% from the peak in September due to lower capital gains obligations), huge increases in Social Security benefits (up 9% in January thanks to backward-looking cost of living adjustments), and—most importantly—soaring employment income. The good news is that this income surge should continue to finance additional consumer spending while protecting most households’ balance sheets…. The problem is what this means for inflation… with no signs of disinflation since last summer—particularly in the categories most sensitive to domestic economic conditions and discretionary demand…

Henrik Karlsson: A blog post is a very long and complex search query to find fascinating people and make them route interesting stuff to your inbox: ‘The way the machine seemed to work was: The more precise and niche the words I input, the better the internet would match me with people I could forge meaningful relationships with…. Writing for a general public, you need to be broad and a bit bland. I didn’t want a general public. I wanted a specific set of people, the people who could help me along as a human being obsessed with certain intellectual problems. I didn’t know who these people were. I only knew that they existed. Hence my writing was a search query. It needed to be phrased in such a way that it found these people and, if necessary, filtered others. The pleasant parts of the internet seemed to be curated by human beings, not algorithms. For my writing to find its way in this netherworld, I needed to have a rough sense of how information flowed down there. The pattern was this: words flowed from the periphery to the centers. This was a surprisingly rapid stream. Then the words cascaded from the center down in a broader but slower stream to the periphery again…. If you follow the advice above, you will write essays that almost no one likes. Luckily, almost no one multiplied by the entire population of the internet is plenty if you can only find them. How do you do that? Well, you can probably spot a few of them already, even if you are a fairly naïve internet user…. The social structure of the internet is shaped like a river…. The way messages spread on the internet is by flowing up… from people with smaller networks to those with larger, and then… back down through the larger networks…. I am a minor tributary…. But a few of my followers were slightly larger…. Then a few accounts that were an order of magnitude larger… followed Stian and Tom…. And from there it rushed up the stream…. It would reach Tiago Forte with 84k followers, who retweeted it, and Balaji Srinavasan with 681K, who routed it on through a like…. The trick, then, is this. You take the person you think is closest to the person (or type of person) you want to talk to and send what you write to this person. A subreddit is a good place to start…. As you start routing information and putting out blog posts, you will begin to accumulate connections…. This is what online writing is at its limit—the summoning of a new culture…

Robert Farley: On Security Guarantees: ‘Rather than think in terms of hard or soft, or try to sort through Putin’s brain, my main consideration is on how to prevent Russia and Ukraine from having another war…. Stephen and Emma both lean into the idea of a soft security guarantee to Ukraine, one that integrates Ukraine into the European economic system and into the Trans-Atlantic defense industrial base so that Kyiv can prosper and protect itself, but that does not offer a hard security guarantee…. I don’t particularly mind the idea of the United States underwriting European security to some extent; my feeling is that the consequences of war in Europe will always have significant negative effects on the United States and thus it’s worth a forward leaning posture. If this means that European countries spend a bit less on defense than they otherwise might, I’m not particularly perturbed. With respect to Ukraine in particular, I think first that a soft guarantee creates more credibility problems than it solves. Russia should know what will happen if it invades Ukraine again…. [And] just as important, alliances tend to restrain their members. Anti-Russian political activity in the Baltics actually decreased substantially after the three republics joined NATO, both because the governments felt more secure and because of diplomatic pressure from the rest of the alliance. This is relevant because the problem is that both sides will find lots of good reasons to restart the war if the war ends in anything but the collapse of one government or the other…

Scott Lemieux: Court rules 5-4 against nullification by state courts: ‘John Cruz was convicted of murder in Arizona, after a judge informed a jury that if they didn’t return a death penalty sentence that he would have to decide between life without parole or life with parole. This was a lie — Arizona law did not permit parole for 1st degree murder. And therefore the death sentence voted by the jury violated binding Supreme Court precedent which requires that juries be informed that the alternative to a death sentence is life without parole if the state has cited the possibility of recidivism as a justification for the death penalty. The Arizona courts, however, simply refused to adhere to the Court’s holding, claiming that there was a specious “independent state justification” for maintaining the sentence. By a narrow majority, with Roberts and Kavanaugh joining the three liberals, the Court did not permit this particular Catch-22:…. The fact that Arizona’s position got one vote, let alone four, is outrageous…

Chris Quinn: We are dropping the Dilbert comic strip because of creator Scott Adams’ racist rant: Letter from the Editor: ‘Adams said Black people are a hate group, citing a recent Rasmussen survey which, he said, shows nearly half of all Black people do not agree with the phrase “It’s okay to be white.” “I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people,” he says in the video. He says a lot more in the video, mostly hateful and racist, all viewable on Youtube. It’s a staggering string of statements, all but certain to result in the loss of his livelihood. I hate to quote him at all, but I do so to dissuade responses that this is a “cancel culture” decision…

Leave a comment

Source link