Feb 21, 2014

Piketty and Pop Culture

This piece was a little bit tongue-in-cheek:
The French economist Thomas Piketty has a new book coming out soon, Capital in the 21st Century. It is a great work, a fearsome beast of analysis stuffed with an awesome amount of empirical data, and will surely be a landmark study in economics. It also references The Aristocats, a 1970 animated Disney film about some upper-class cats who stand to inherit a fortune.
But there's actually kind of a genius technique there. Piketty uses pop culture references throughout the book (and not just Disney films, mind, but also Balzac and Austen) to show how the logic the economic system percolates down through a society. Austen's day was a time of extreme rentist inequality, so in her books the whole of upper-class life revolves around securing a big enough fortune to live "comfortably" on the interest (i.e., with 20-50 times the average income), because even profession work (like being a lawyer) didn't account for nearly so much money. It's a brilliant toehold not just for cultural analysis, but as a road into the general thesis.

Anyway, it's a great book. Well worth a look when it comes out.

Feb 18, 2014

How Wolves Changes Rivers

Turns out a keystone predator can have knock-on effects on a place that come all the way down to the actual geography of the waterways:

(h/t Bego)

Feb 10, 2014


Been quite some time since I've had the gumption to post anything here. But here are some scattershot updates from here and there. It's hard to bother with this place when pretty much every idea I have gets sucked up by other first. But anyway, first, here's a piece in TNR about Mike Lee. Second, here's something about progressives and tax cuts. I'm particularly proud I managed to get "It’s the center we’d have to worry about most, actually — blowing up the deficit with such a proposal would send Washington’s Very Serious People into spasms of murder frenzy." into that second one.

Third, some big news: I've got a new job! I'm going to be starting as a National Correspondent (read: daily blogger) for TheWeek.com, starting a week from tomorrow. Huzzah!

In seriousness, it's been great working here at the Monthly, and I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to work here. It's no exaggeration to say I wouldn't have gotten this chance if I hadn't started out here.

But my new job should have something of an easier schedule as far as daily stuff, and I'd like to return to this place to write out some more oddball or personal stuff. With luck, you'll be hearing from me a couple times per week here, starting soon.

UPDATE: I almost forgot, listen to my first-ever radio appearance here! Oh god it's so bad...