Re: Piketty Reading Group?

1

I would be interested. I can grab a Kindle copy, if I can't track down a physical one before hand.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:29 AM
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I'll try not to drop too many spoilers about the introduction.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:32 AM
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I'm interested but skeptical that I'll manage to hang in there very long.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:33 AM
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I'd like to think I'd do this, but I may be fooling myself. I do have a kindle copy which I haven't started yet but which I could pop from my stack of unread kindle shit at need.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:48 AM
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Yes, though I don't have a copy yet.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:49 AM
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Yes, I'd be on for that, if I can find a copy.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:49 AM
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Sure, why not!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:50 AM
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Is LB volunteering to moderate this thing?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:51 AM
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I'm prepared to feel guilty for inevitably flaking out. (That's the functional equivalent of "count me in," right?)


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:52 AM
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9: That's certainly what I meant.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:11 AM
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All right, I'm in.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:12 AM
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27 holds at my local library.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:14 AM
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I'm encouraged by the lack of economic credentials in this thread. I'm in!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:15 AM
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Should I order it from Amazon, because I won't have to wait as long, or order it from Powell's, because solidarity?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:15 AM
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I'm in but flakey. B&N shipped mine yesterday.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:16 AM
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I'm going to go to the campus bookstore. If there's a copy there, I'll buy it and participate. If not, I won't. Because the market will provide if I'm supposed to have it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:18 AM
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A resurrection of the legendary Unfogged Reading Group? Will there be fewer cock jokes?

I guess I'm in, though I doubt I will be able to keep up. I am the world's slowest reader.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:21 AM
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I am. I was figuring two chapters a week, one post per chapter on Mondays and Thursdays. Volunteers sign up ahead of time to do a summary post of their chapter, and I'll fill in for any unclaimed chapters. Anyone welcome to participate, whether or not they've been doing the reading.

These rules are made up on the spot -- anyone have thoughts for improving them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:25 AM
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I'm interested, but realistically probably won't participate if you start before mid June.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:27 AM
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I'm in but since I have the book and seem to be ahead of most people, I'd like to start the group now so I can just tell you all what it means and everyone can agree with me.

More seriously, it's really not a hard book at all; clearly written, pretty entertaining, not technical. A chapter a week should be doable for almost everyone; a chapter every two weeks would be really easy. Also it would be nice to have an economist, maybe Walt or PGD, involved.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:31 AM
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Two chapters a week? How long are they?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:35 AM
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I have no idea. Does one chapter a week sound like a better idea?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:41 AM
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Sure, I'm in. Tweety and I can fight over our single copy every week the night before the discussion.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:44 AM
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22 -- I think 1/wk is probably more reasonable.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:46 AM
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I will have a copy of the book and will likely read the threads. I may or may not do the assigned reading, depending on how burdensome it is.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:46 AM
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I can keep up with one chapter a week. Two chapters will be tough.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:47 AM
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I'm in. LB, Barnes & Noble shows copies at three locations in Manhattan. I just reserved one for pickup.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:48 AM
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Also, if you do one chapter a week, it could start sooner and late-joiners could catch up relatively easily. That would be a lot tougher at twice the speed.

We could, of course, adjust pace later on as needed.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:50 AM
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One a week it is, with posts on Monday.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:01 AM
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I'm in. I'm not an economist, but I played one as an undergrad a few decades back.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:05 AM
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Oh, yeah, I have no pretensions to knowing anything about economics beyond irritated crabbing. I'm moderating as the person with keys to the blog, rather than as having any particular expertise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:07 AM
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So we need a start date that allows people time to acquire a copy and read the introduction?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:10 AM
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I've taught PPE. But I taught one of the Ps, not the E.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:11 AM
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It seems nearly impossible to find the paper copy in the UK at the moment, based on a quick search. Used copies are going for more than new.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:13 AM
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32: Because everything is all about me, I'm figuring I'll wait until the copy I've ordered gets here, and then poll people to figure out how much time everyone else needs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:14 AM
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I'm in! I don't really know anything about economics either -- I was an economist once, but A) I wasn't a macro/growth theory person, and B) I mainly learned that economists don't know anything about economics -- but I'm very much looking forward to reading this.

Amazon tells me my copy will arrive in early June but I'm going to try to hunt down a copy at a bookstore. I can't believe the sales on this thing; it's really nice to see it happen for Piketty who has made a big, uncelebrated, and completely non-assholish contribution to economics over the years


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:17 AM
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I'm in. With Chopper's confirmation that B&N's having the book in stock is not for show, I'll get it from them if it's not at my local bookstore. (Weird that Amazon has been out of stock so long while others aren't - publisher squabble?)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:20 AM
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The first, crucial question: are we English-speakers supposed to say "Piketty" to rhyme with "rickety"? Or is there some Frenchy way to say it?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:20 AM
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(Weird that Amazon has been out of stock so long while others aren't - publisher squabble?)

Or maybe Amazon ran out first because more people buy from there and the publisher has been scrambling to get enough printed (the latter part is definitely true from some googling). HUP is not a high-volume publisher, generally. Our copy was a return, I'm pretty sure, and has a grease smear on the dustjacket.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:23 AM
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Everybody who buys this book but doesn't finish it and is older than forty-two should be aware that the guy who wrote the damn thing is younger than you, and probably you should feel ashamed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:23 AM
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I've just ordered a copy. Now I can feel guilty if I don't read it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:24 AM
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Nice little interview with Piketty in the New Republic. He's got to be the least pretentious French intellectual of my lifetime, maybe ever? Just very straightforward, appropriately modest with no false modesty.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:26 AM
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Keynes wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace at 36. Marx had written The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, The German Ideology and the Manifesto by the time he was 30. Piketty is just doing what good economists do.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:34 AM
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43: Piketty is none too impressed with Marx for writing those before digging in to Capital.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:36 AM
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44: Spoiler alert!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:37 AM
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38: I think it's pick-uh-TEA


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:42 AM
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He's got to be the least pretentious French intellectual of my lifetime, maybe ever?

Was he not wearing a beret, a horizontally-striped, black-and-white shirt, and dangling a cigarette out the side of his mouth?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:43 AM
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38: Answered here.

"The economist Paul Krugman burst into an office at the CUNY Graduate Center one recent evening with a pronunciation question. "Is it Pik-etty?" he asked, so that the name rhymed with "rickety." "Or is it Pikit-tay? And are we going with Tho-mah, or Thom-as?"

Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:44 AM
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So, basically like Pikachu. (Don't look at me like that. You were all thinking the same thing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:45 AM
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44. I shall read his argument before I decide whether he has a point or whether this is merely the theorist's all too common disdain for the activist.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:47 AM
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Pazuzuuuuu!!!!!!!!


Posted by: Opinionated Richard Burton | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:48 AM
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Pikachu can suck my card-buying-to-quiet-a-kid ass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:49 AM
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50:TP: The Communist Manifesto of 1848 is a short and strong piece. Das Kapital, I think, is very difficult to read and for me it was not very influential.

From the link in 42.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:51 AM
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Good Bloogheads.TV (I know, right?) with translator Arthur Goldhammer and Mike Konczal aka Rortybomb here: http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/28998
Goldhammer gives the correct pronunciation about 30 seconds in.
I'm only here for the cock jokes so I probably won't be participating.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:55 AM
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53: I thought that was hilarious because probably 90 percent of the people who talk about Marx (me included!) have thrown Das Kapital across the room because it's so impenetrable. I like how he also asks the reviewer 'have you tried to read that book?'. The fact that he said that the Communist Manifesto is strong (indeed it's brilliant) shows he's not a mindless Marx-basher.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:59 AM
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55. Yeah, you know what I hate? People who have read the fucking Grundrisse.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:03 AM
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re: 42

Hume had written the Treatise well before he was 30. Bastard. Smith was in his 30s, when he published his Theory of Moral Sentiments.

I suspect the modern university education system is inimical to doing good shit, early.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:18 AM
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I am in the for reading group. I would prefer to "present" on one of the chapters in Part IV.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:22 AM
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I just got a notice from B&N that my copy will ship tomorrow. So I'm in.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:23 AM
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I just picked mine up.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:27 AM
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I'm in. I ordered a copy from B&N a couple of days ago.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:44 AM
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Piketty reading group? What a...Capital idea. (Sorry, I had to, before Stanley or Moby did.)

Sure, I'm in, pending arrival of my copy. A chapter per week sounds reasonable.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:47 AM
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50, 53: okay, it's not quite what I said. It's more than he says that Capital was made weaker by its conclusions being overdetermined by Marx's having written the Manifesto etc. first.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 9:54 AM
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Just dropped in to the local bookstore, which told me what I already knew: They were out and everybody is out. I'm in if I get a copy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 10:07 AM
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Same with my local bookstore. B&N it is.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 10:14 AM
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The bookstore on campus is expecting nine copies tomorrow or the next day. We'll see.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 10:16 AM
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There's a stack of copies, now one shorter, at the center city Philly B&N a few minutes ago. Full price though.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 10:42 AM
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B&N's website also shows the B&N near me as having the book in stock and available now for in-store pickup. On that basis, I cancelled my order through amazon.com. Then, I called B&N, and they said the online system is wrong--they don't have any and don't know when they'll get any. Bah.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:24 AM
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I haven't read the book, but these criticisms strike me as pretty weak.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:38 AM
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68: Huh - my site said the local B&N is sold out, but it let me buy it online and I got an "order is scheduled to ship" notification.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:41 AM
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I haven't read the book

Come on, man, you've had fully twenty-four hours.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:48 AM
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Well, I only tried the in-store pickup--I didn't try to buy online. I refuse to buy online a book that has been discounted to $24.88 from a website that offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more but wants to charge $3.99 to ship me the book that they have discounted to a price of $24.88.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:50 AM
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71: it doesn't seem fair to start the clock running before I receive a copy of the book.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:51 AM
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but these criticisms strike me as pretty weak.

What part of "Piketty is wrong because we should privatize Social Security" don't you understand?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:57 AM
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Also, you people with your paper books. Onions, belts, etc.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:01 PM
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If we should privatize Social Security, then Piketty is right.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:06 PM
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69: A guy from Forbes says Piketty is wrong because some other guys from Reason and the National Review say he's wrong, and by the way, Paul Krugman is wrong. No surprises there. A lot of the reaction from the right appears to take the same tack, also not surprisingly, because the urgency of denouncing the book is far greater than the urgency of thinking about it. I was amused by a recent blog post by Krugman that kept to the Times' rule about columnists not calling out other columnists while still making it pretty clear that Brooks is a douchebag (Brook's own piece on Piketty brought to mind AWB's characterization of him as a dumb guy pretending to be a smart guy pretending to be a dumb guy).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:07 PM
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Hmm. I hate hardbacks, but a hypothetical unfogged reading group will be long over by the time it's out in paperback.

329 amazon reviews is pretty impressive for a book that's been out for less than 2 months. Reading all the hyperventilating one star reviews by butthurt libertarians is convincing me that it's probably a must read. Maybe I'll break my rule about hardbacks.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:13 PM
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I would like to be in this reading group!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:18 PM
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Piketty is wrong because some other guys from Reason and the National Review say he's wrong, and by the way, Paul Krugman is wrong.

Yeah, it seemed like less of an argument than a "lets enumerate a few issues people have taken with it and assume this list discredits the entire project," surrounding with a generous helping of derp. Actually examining the issues to determine which criticisms have merit and which can be dismissed might have been a useful exercise, but I guess thats not how these things work.

Fucking Forbes.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:24 PM
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[treating this as the Economics thread]

I just read on of the best internet comments that I've seen in ages. In reply to this Brad DeLong post about the ways in which practical experiential knowledge is subsumed in the category that Economists call "Technology" Erik Lund writes.

That's your tacit knowledge, your experiential learning, your motor memory, whatever you want to call it. That's what perpetuates itself through the economy to create productivity as embodied in people-who-know-what-they're-doing. It's a mysterious thing that economic historians are all too inclined to wave away with an airy high hand and a sonorous explanation. Which goes somewhat like this: "Capitalism technology Western Freedom Battle of Salamis Calvinism Free Inquiry rights of property rule of law Scientific Method."

In graduate school --History of Technology grad school, anyway-- you are then told that there used to be verbs in that sentence, but research has led to our dropping them, and that the job of your generation is to find new verbs to go into it.

I love it. I think more people should describe their academic study as trying to find new verbs to fit the timeline.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 12:58 PM
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I'd like to participate.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:02 PM
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I'll be in the reading group in order to fulfill my destiny of agreeing with Halford.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:07 PM
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81: That's not technology, that's human capital. Gary Becker died to bring us that insight.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:10 PM
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I'm in! (And ttaM -- and anyone else who was wondering about the Kindle version -- it's decent reading on the Kindle. The graphs are a tiny bit hard to make out, but then again I realized after looking at them that I never actually pay attention to graphs.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:14 PM
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I broke down and ordered from B&M online. Goddamn greedy capitalists.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:19 PM
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B&N.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:19 PM
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Scheduled to ship tomorrow.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:19 PM
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B&M sells toilet readers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:21 PM
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B&N are freaks. I cancelled my Amazon order because B&N had it in stock -- they're claiming they're going to deliver it today, standard shipping. What the hell? I mean, spiffy, but weird.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 1:30 PM
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Last year, 25 hedge fund managers earned more than double every kindergarten teacher combined

http://www.vox.com/2014/5/6/5687788/last-year-25-hedge-fund-managers-earned-more-than-double-every


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 2:14 PM
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I have a copy, and am interested. I'm not really around much at the moment, due to guests and travel, but any time is fine, I'll slot in!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 2:20 PM
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That's a very Yglesian headline. What he means to say is that the combined income of 25 dudes exceeded the combined income of every kindergarten teacher combined. But what it sounds like is that each of those 25 dudes earned more than the combination of all the kindergarten teachers salaries which, I guess would have been a lot worse, although its already really bad.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 2:20 PM
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I think I'm going to blame my inability to join this reading group on the internet, and cross-post to the other thread. (or does that only apply to my ability to forge meaningful relationships)


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 2:56 PM
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I'm in. Awaiting a copy. Flakiness guaranteed, but this is my chance after missing the last reading group.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 3:31 PM
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This is a pretty impressive turnout, even if we're mostly unsure we'll sustain it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 4:31 PM
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I'm in if I can get a copy. May resort to Kindle.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 4:31 PM
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I ordered it on amazon. I'm in.


Posted by: Light Rail Tycoon | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 4:37 PM
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Think about calling an independent bookstore if you have one nearby. Where I used to work, our academic press buyer had a few chits to call in at the publisher for big books like this. So we would often get a smallish shipment of 25 or 50 books when all the chain stores were out. Then we would just call the first 25 or 50 people who had left a name and phone number with us. There were books that remained 'out of stock' for a month, but customers only had to wait a day or two.


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 5:27 PM
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I wish I could bail in on this, but - deadbeats aside - I do not have a lot of reading time in my next 6 weeks.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:10 PM
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I'm in.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 6:38 PM
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I've had a copy for a few weeks but still only read like 60 or 70 pages, although I have read a few other books during those weeks. So I guess I need the reading group to give me a kick in the pants so I'll actually finish reading it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:21 PM
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I'm in, paper copy pending.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:32 PM
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Since Piketty's book is clearly flying off the shelves, how long before the free marketeers attempt to use the sales of the book as a means of discrediting his arguments? He's against capitalism. But he's selling lots of books. This proves that capitalism works. Also, he's French.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 7:54 PM
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I'm in. I'm an economist (don't hold it against me), but I did crossword puzzles through macro class, which seemed like an exercise in ignoring the interesting questions in order to focus on simple differential equations.


Posted by: spysander looner | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:11 PM
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40: It is a sobering thought that when Tom Lehrer was my age, he still hadn't recorded his joke about Mozart.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 8:42 PM
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Assuming lurkers are welcome, I'd like in, with the usual caveats regarding flakiness.


Posted by: remy | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:34 PM
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I just placed a hold on the book, so if the library somehow obtains another 5-10 copies and then 30 check it out and return it, I'll get a copy.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 6-14 11:54 PM
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There are no copies available in the academic library I work for, either.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 1:56 AM
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Clearly I don't follow comment threads promptly or often enough to be a useful contributor, but I'm in. As for reading speed, with online groups my experience is that too slow is as bad as too fast (i.e. if I get engrossed and finish the book, I don't want to have to go back and discuss chapter 2 weeks later).


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 2:42 AM
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I'm more worried about writing speed, since this is going to involve working through some fairly complex ideas, and I am, perforce, a one handed typist.

I have a sneaking feeling that it would be useful to reread Mandel's Late Capitalism to prep for this, but that's another 600 pages, so I don't think it's going to happen.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:17 AM
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I commend anyone who not only wants to do supplementary reading, but keeps masturbating while posting about economics.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:34 AM
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I spoke too soon -- B&N did not deliver yesterday.

111.1: How does voice recognition software work for you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:34 AM
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113.2. Haven't tried it. Interesting idea.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:49 AM
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107: I think even if you're not flaky, we can probably accommodate you.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:51 AM
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'Nother lurker who'd like to join


Posted by: Yarrow | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:52 AM
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114: It's what I do for a living, so if you do decide to try, feel free to ask me if/when you run into annoyances.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:54 AM
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Why don't you all torrent the pdf?

#kiddingmaybe


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 5:58 AM
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re: 114

Fwiw, and I've not tried other options, I find Siri quite usable for dictation. And I have a non-standard accent.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:01 AM
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117. Which product would you recommend?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:01 AM
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Careful, ttaM. They might put you in an ad. "Works for scotsmen!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:02 AM
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118: I might do that just to have a second copy I can read on my kindle if Blume steals the hardcover.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:03 AM
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119, 120: the voice recognition in Siri is by Nuance who do Dragon Dictate, so presumably that would work about as well. (Or not, I dunno. The specifics of the Nuance/Siri relationship are shrouded in secrecy.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:04 AM
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119. Isn't Siri Apple specific? I won't use Apple kit, even if the devil himself is dead.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:04 AM
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re: 121

Heh, yeah. I can just imagine it.

Exterior, day, tattoo'd gentleman, in car:

[click - annoying phone noise]
'Text Big Shuggie that if he disnae want malkied, he'll hae the twa hunner and they missing five oonces ready bi the morra.'

[Phone voice]
Texting Hugh now.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:06 AM
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re: 124

It is. I was just citing an example of an ordinary consumer product, not one specifically for audio typing type use, that's quite a bit more usable than I expected.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:06 AM
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Chris, what we use runs on Nuance's Dragon software. The newest version is very strongly geared to casual users and I think works pretty well out of the box, though it's annoying for people who want to do a lot of tweaking because of all the "helpful" corrections it does.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:08 AM
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125: presumably you've seen


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:09 AM
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Read the Piketty. I like it mostly because it may put the bourgeois economists feet to the fire, but it is very much a piece of bourgeois economics (as BE should be, ala Keynes). I very much doubt that it will significantly change anything, anything at all. About as important as Graeber's work. Right.

David Harvey's Seventeen Contradictions of Capitalism on the other hand is yet another masterpiece of analytical concision and passionate expression. Somewhat repetitive of his other work, yet still informed by the most recent scholarship and events.
Readable and inspirational.

So what, then, should an anti-capitalist movement make of all this? It is first vital to recognise that capital is always a moving target for opposition because of its uneven geographical development. Any anti-capitalist movement has to learn to cope with this. Oppositional movements in one space have often been defanged because capital moved to another. Anti-capitalist movements must abandon all thoughts of regional equality and convergence around some theory of socialist harmony. These are recipes for an unacceptable and unachievable global monotony. Anti-capitalist movements have to liberate and coordinate their own dynamics of uneven geographical development, the production of emancipatory spaces of difference, in order to reinvent and explore creative regional alternatives to capital. Different social movements and resistances are emerging from within the framework of capital's uneven geographical development, from Stockholm and Cairo to São Paulo, Shanghai, Paris and London. These constitute a mosaic of different but loosely interconnected seedbeds for transformations of capitalism towards an anti-capitalist future. How they might be put together is the question. We live in chaotic and volatile times, particularly with respect to uneven geographical developments. It is not unreasonable to expect that resistances and oppositions will be equally chaotic, volatile and geographically specific.

There is much more than Harvey's geographical specialty (which really is just classic Marxism). I am thinking about the difference between Harvey's call for local and diverse revolutionary responses compared to Piketty's call for a global wealth tax.

It is the nature of bourgeois economics, as ideology and practice, to universalize on top of a geographically and historically determined variety.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:10 AM
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re: 128

Seen, and linked here.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:12 AM
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I very much doubt that it will significantly change anything, anything at all. About as important as Graeber's work. Right.

Yeah. I find the Piketty triumphalism a bit weird. I mean, apparently he's written a useful book, and I look forward to reading it, and ideas do matter at the margins, but really ...


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:13 AM
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I like the Irving Welsh version above better, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:13 AM
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129.2 Nice to see contemporary thinkers catching up with what Helphand and Trotsky were saying in 1904.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:16 AM
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Thorn, I shall have to think about this. It costs £64 ($100) on mark down (£80 at rack rate), which is a lot for a might be nice rather than a must have.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:38 AM
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The home version costs $60 here. You could emigrate and save $40.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:59 AM
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I like it mostly because it may put the bourgeois economists feet to the fire, but it is very much a piece of bourgeois economics (as BE should be, ala Keynes)

One of the great pleasures of The General Theory is that it reaches the conclusions it does, and teaches the approaches it does, entirely within the assumptions of BE. So that you don't need to revolutionize society, build barricades, or go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, in order to do things very differently. That it was revolutionary without being revolutionary, so to speak.

What is remarkable to me, given how readable I found it, how well-written, is that it had/has such a reputation as a difficult book. Certainly the line I heard when I learned the then-standard Samuelson synthesis in the seventies.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 7:11 AM
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It looks like the book is 16 chapters. That means 1 chapter per week gets us a four-month reading group. Is that too long?

The question I'd like to understand is that basically none of the explanations commonly given for the increased inequality in the US over the last 40 years are easily explainable in terms of r>g. It's usually blamed on spiraling c-suite pay packages (while middle class wages stagnate). Or increasing extraction of profits by the finance industry (banks, hedge funds, private equity managers, etc.). While most of these people started off with a huge number of advantages, and on top of that have gotten very lucky, and on top of that are immoral leeches, this is a very different story than "the people who had some accumulated capital in 1974 are now just much that wealthier than the rest of us, because their capital has been growing faster than the economy as a whole (r>g)." So, I'm confused. Is the common explanation wrong?

I'm sure Piketty explains this. I hope.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 9:54 AM
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I think 137 is one of the things that Krugman faulted Piketty for, actually. (Section 3 of this linked critique in the other OP). The other thing he dings Piketty for is not discussing the role of deregulation in all this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:08 AM
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Well, fuck. Now I don't want to read the book anymore.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:10 AM
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To be fair, urple, I think the book was not really that excited about you reading it either.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:13 AM
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Well, read section 3. at least in Krugman's piece. It's a more nuanced criticism than I'm communicating. Piketty sort of deals with it, it seems.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:14 AM
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He certainly mentions at least the executive thing -- in such a way that indicates that he thinks it's relevant -- in the introduction.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:18 AM
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137: Intergenerationally, I think there's a real sorting mechanism by which people with either high levels of inherited capital or high expectations of inheritance get sorted into 1% jobs. I don't know how this fits into anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:25 AM
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137 -- all of those things get discussed in the book. One thing reading this thread has convinced me of is that people get really confused about what r>g means for inequality if they haven't read the damn thing (which, to be clear, I haven't finished).

Two points worth noting though are that (a) the rise of inequality within countries and the increase in the national capital/national income ratio are universal phenomenon in the West and Japan, even in countries with less pay for top executives (which is broadly speaking a US problem); (b) it's not surprising that in the current economy inherited wealth is less important than it might be in the future (and is actually significantly less important in the US than Europe because of demographic growth, though offset by excessive pay packages) because we're just coming out of a period of resurgence of capital from a historically aberrationally low point in about 1950, so the real power of inherited wealth hasn't necessarily kicked in yet. Part of the point of the book is that these inequality issues are real even with a much more social democratic regime than the one we have in the US (which isn't an argument against social democracy). But these are all largely in parts of the book I haven't read.

[again, the foregoing is a kind of personal note-taking on the book, and could be wrong]


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:46 AM
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137: Trying to remember, but basically asset inflation combined with central bank and other gov't policies that guarantee against competition/creative destruction, loss, or devaluation. Low growth/low inflation/low dynamics/low taxes policies.

Question: why didn't Microsoft or Walmart see cutthroat successful competition?

And centrally, compounding.

Video on Great Moderation ...from Naked Capitalism

I could go back to my notes


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 10:53 AM
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To be fair, urple, I think the book was not really that excited about you reading it either.

Put your copy in an MRI or we'll never really know.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:00 AM
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The comparisons Piketty makes to the Victorian age are really important.

If you owned a bunch of productive land or bonds in 1925 Britain, you and your heirs just really couldn't fucking lose. If you controlled the gov't.

And after a generation or two, the hyper rich get really smart and safe, no they don't tend to go nuts on tulips. One thing Piketty shows is that 1890 fortunes were just as safely invested in diverse instruments and index-type funds as we are told to do today.

There was a poll recently.

The bottom 20% of the population think they should invest in lottery tickets and speculative stocks

The top 1% overwhelmingly said people should invest in land and real estate. And 50% of wealth is in those.

What conditions are imaginable for a 5th Avenue building and lot to lose most of its value?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:07 AM
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146 s/b "1825 Britain" sorry


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:07 AM
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You may say:But Bob, the housing crash!

The real rich didn't buy on the outskirts of Vegas, they bought downtown Vegas. And they don't worry that much about transitory valuations, they are in it for decades and measure wealth by the invariable income it produces

They understand compounding.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:13 AM
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I think Bob's 147/8 gets an important part of the book right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:20 AM
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That actually reminds me of a really depressing Krugman piece, purportedly written from 2100. He's talking about wealth derived from natural resources rather than precisely real estate as traditionally conceived, but the same kind of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:30 AM
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What conditions are imaginable for a 5th Avenue building and lot to lose most of its value?

Most of its gross value? Maybe a dirty bomb. Losing all of its equity value and winding up with the mortgage lender, leaving the rich investors with nothing, is not only imaginable, but actually happened to a number of buildings just a few years ago.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:35 AM
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Yeah, OK, the specific building on fifth ave point wasn't so good (and not in the book). But the rest of 147/48 gets it about right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 11:43 AM
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Amazon just told me I'll get the book end of next week! It's destiny!

Anyway, this thread is dropping down, but I'd like to make a suggestion re how to organize the reading. I think the point made above about going to slowly is an issue. Here is the TOC of the book:

http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/capital21c/en/Piketty2014Contents.pdf

It looks like there are four parts, each roughly 120 pages except the third which is a whopping 240. Would it make sense to read a part a week, with two weeks for the third part? That would make five weeks total. Or is 120 pages a week too many?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 1:50 PM
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(I think the 'chapter a week' is too slow and also too likely to leave us wanting to bring in topics from the 'next' chapter, the parts seem like a more natural division of broad topics).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 1:52 PM
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151: Good stuff from someone who got a Nobel for geography and growth.

Rents are also from IP now.

As you can see from my link up at the top of the thread, there are interesting arguments between Piketty and Marxians/left Keynesians about the importance of rent-producing capital. The tendency of 'r' to decline isn't at all unique to Marx but is a staple o most classical economics, just counterbalanced by growth and technology improvements among those to the right of Marx.

Understanding the Marxian theory of rents, finance, and fictitious Capital is one of the hardest things for me. Marx I think assumed a much higher level of dynamism and competition than actually always exists, and underestimated the degree of monopoly and state capture. Maybe.

Could have been Marx's times, when industrial capital looked like a juggernaut. And it is true that the places with more mobile dynamic capital, like the US, Germany, Japan looked pretty good compared to the older more stratified nations for a long while, as China does today. And well Imperialism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 1:52 PM
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What about starting with one chapter a week and after two weeks gathering the sense of the community on whether to speed up to two? I like the idea of bi-weekly posts, in terms of keeping momentum going.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 1:53 PM
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I've got multiple things competing for limited bedtime reading, so I prefer the chapter/week takes-all-summer pace. But will try to keep up with whatever. How long are the chapters?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 1:54 PM
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151: wow -- that was written in 1996! Almost 20 years later it looks pretty prescient. Point, Krugman.

137: I haven't read it yet, but the very formulation r>g accepts neoclassical assumptions in a potentially quite problematic way. That is, it accepts there is one price for some kind of homogeneous capital, as opposed to lots of different ways of extracting surplus in many different niches, kept alive by institutional barriers and governmental assistance. There's still a problematic level of abstraction from the real world. Bob's answer in 147 is good as far as it goes, but it still ascribes differences to abstract investing strategies, not institutional advantages (which include not just investment returns, but the cost of funds in lending markets).

I assume he discusses this somewhat in the text.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 2:30 PM
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And of course there are strong price-equalizing tendencies created by financial market arbitrage. But they don't guarantee a one-price equilibrium, and some forms of favoritism cannot be arbitraged away.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 2:47 PM
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154 sounds like a good schedule to me. If the discussion goes too slowly I'll have to keep backtracking and trying to remember things and it'll be annoying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 3:53 PM
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I am; gonna go amble down to University Press Books to figure out how to get a copy.


Posted by: saheli | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 4:32 PM
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I now have my copy. Monday, I'll put up a post asking who still hasn't got one and how long you think it'll take you to get it, and we'll go from there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:07 PM
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Would it be crazy to email Piketty and ask if he has any spare copies he could lend to our reading group, since the whole rest of the world seems to be out of stock?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:12 PM
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success! even got first edition first printing. They've got like ten stacked up. They take internet orders if you want to support a fantastic local bookstore. http://universitypressbooks.com


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 6:13 PM
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Can you buy a version with French on one page and the English language translation on the other? My French isn't good enough to read the whole thing in French, but I'd like to be able to look to the original for clarification.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 7-14 8:15 PM
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Emerson has an interesting take, which I think s mostly right. It's not a lot different from what P himself says in his introduction.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:45 AM
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If you owned a bunch of productive land or bonds in 1825 Britain, you and your heirs just really couldn't fucking lose. If you controlled the gov't.

This is, to my personal knowledge, absolutely not true. It was perfectly possible to be the heir of someone who owned a very large chunk of Heroinopolis in 1825 and to be not well off at all by 1985.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:35 AM
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(168 not referring to me, but someone I knew.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:36 AM
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168. Presumably they didn't control the government. But nobody did permanently because in the 19th century there was one two party system that morphed into another, so the ins were sometimes out, however hard they tried.

Also, the Great Depression of 1873-79.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 2:00 AM
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170: so it's a no-true-Scotsman argument. Makes sense.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 2:39 AM
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I feel like if I weren't so exhausted I'd be able to think of a good literary metaphor for an evil creature that creates an illusion for people that its evil plans for them are actually perfectly pleasant, something they would choose of their own volition, up until the moment in time when the person starts to gain some awareness of what's actually going on, at which point the metaphorical claws come out. I'm thinking of a succubus that, when in the throes of passion is stopped and questioned about her intentions, suddenly transforms into a demonic serpent and begins to bite. I'm not actually sure that's a literary reference, though, and not just a bad dream I had. Anyway, I am a little bit worried that we may be nearing that point with capital.

Labor has lost many of the rights, not to mention the political influence, that past generations fought so long and so hard to gain, but as long as we're ignorantly grateful to our lords and masters for being such munificent job creators, they are happy to let us labor in relative contentment under the pretext that we're all on one big happy team. But, if we're starting to ask tough questions, the knives may come out. And they've got most of the knives.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 2:57 AM
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172.1 Keats' Lamia? I didn't link the actual poem because teal deer.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 3:05 AM
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If you owned a bunch of productive land or bonds in 1825 Britain, you and your heirs just really couldn't fucking lose

The first 30 years of that would be pretty sweet, the era of high farming as we call it. But after that, agricultural land lost a lot of its value between the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century in the UK. Farming was generally a shitty business to be in, due to cheap imports from the US, Argentina, Russia pre-WW1, and the empire. Low wholesale prices drove down rents.

It's absolutely no coincidence that the suburbs erupted right then; one of the few things you could do with arable land in the UK was grow houses on it...if it was near a railway station with frequent services to London. People did things like cut up big mixed farms in Essex into plots and try to sell them around pubs in the East End.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 3:16 AM
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Before 1825, there was little advantage to being near a railroad station.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 5:48 AM
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I presume the repeal of the Corn Laws also had something to do with it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:20 PM
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Just to be clear, there's no claim in Piketty (nor could or should there be, he's not an idiot) that a particular mix of capital assets was permanently valuable in the 19th century, or will be in the future. It's that throughout the 19th century the (a) returns to capital were pretty remarkably stable over a long period of time (he's got good evidence for this) and (b) wealthy holders of capital tended, on the whole, to diversify sufficiently to protect their income, such that familial wealth being wiped out by a shock to a particular asset wasn't particularly common [this is in a part of the book I haven't read yet but that seems to be referenced]

This is one of the best things written about Piketty, and also one of the best things Emerson has ever written.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:27 PM
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Pwnd by Chris Y in 167.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:29 PM
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177: The increase in inequality was already well-documented by Saez and Piketty. Krugman, the liberal economist, has been talking about it for years now. The main accomplishment of the book is to demonstrate to economists that it's the post-war decline in inequality that was the aberration, not the present day.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:40 PM
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Isn't that basically what Emerson is saying?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:41 PM
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Is it? I read it as saying that only now, in 2014, are liberal economists talking about inequality, because of the book.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:48 PM
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What Bob said in 129, my picking up on it in 136, and these recent exchanges about Emerson's piece shouldn't be taken as dismissing the significance of what Piketty has done. What he's done, similar to what Keynes did once, is present a version of common sense in terms that conventional economics can understand and accept. Breaks the hold of the long-dead economists on the profession and practical people, in the famous simile Keynes used.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 12:51 PM
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181 I thought the point was that it undermines the general post-WWII liberal (not just economists') faith in the notion that the "rising tide lifts all boats" which was an element of the post-war consensus. There is something in Krugman, Brad DeLong et al. (I say this as a non-expert reader of their political writing, not of their economics) that has the flavor of "the US economy of 1955 was the best thing ever and how the world normally should work and we could get back there if the Republicans didn't keep screwing it up and let intelligent technocrats run the world."

Piketty seems to be suggesting that the situation that we're in is the normal situation, not the exception, and that ordinary capitalism in ordinary circumstances itself isn't sufficient to lift all boats, or at least not nearly enough to make up for the relative deprivation between haves and have-nots. "Growing the economy" isn't enough. I took that to be Emerson's point, that the book helps to diminish the notion that there's some general normal consensus situation of growing the economy for everyone that we could obtain if we just put the better group of technocrats in charge.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:01 PM
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What hasn't been shown well by Piketty is that we can have growth and massive redistribution. The importance of the catastrophic years 1914-1945 for his graphs, charts, and data cannot be overestimated. Piketty did look at a wide variety of nations over history, closely looking at Sweden for instance, and found no examples of good growth isolated from social disorder and capital destruction.

Piketty also looked at welfare states, transfer payments (Euroamerica has historically great transfer payments and fairly high income taxes), and taxes on income and found them insignificant for equality. We had egalitarianism after WWII because capital had been destroyed. It is important to read him and understand, that besides the limits of the possible, he also wants his wealth tax as a mere start, to get an international accounting of where the money is. Then, then we can get going.

The only way I know of to get decent growth and egalitarianism is to transfer private wealth into public investment (not consumption, no basic guaranteed income) expanding the commons and infrastructure at a WWII rate.

And then deal with the different problems of socialism.

Did Piketty Read Marx ...sandwichman says fuck yeah.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:01 PM
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136: I think Keynes is harder for economists to understand than for non-economists. It's because subconsciously economists imagine that market prices fix all problems. So the idea of a shortfall in aggregate demand is hard for economists to understand, because they expect that prices will fall, and the shortfall will go away. Even Joan Robinson, who later became of Keynes' most ardent defenders, initially found it hard to understand.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:06 PM
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Don't just look at 'r' the return to capital, the expression has a right side too.

Why Marx?

Because Marx wasn't an idiot, and had studied the French Revolution, and believed that growth could not be maintained without an ever increasing share going to capital. Marx fully understood social democracy and welfare capitalism and believed they would fail.

If 'g" growth keeps going down, r can remain higher than g even if both are negative. After we have socialized wealth, new costs, challenges and problems will arise, and without growth and capital, we won't be able to pay for them. See "communism" as historically practiced.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:10 PM
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Yeah, I guess I should edit 181 to make clear that the world of the 1950s WOULD be possible if we had really really awesome economic growth. The problem is that we don't and probably won't, and economists have no idea how we could.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:13 PM
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Joan Robinson and quite a few of the real Keynesians Post-Keynesians don't know a way to a sustainable economy...without full wage-price controls.

The left-center economists have really gotten a pass for the last 50 years and have not solved the problems of capitalism or come to grips with Minsky. Been easy to attack Reagan/Thatcherism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:15 PM
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Marx understood welfare capitalism and how to rewind a cassette tape with a pencil.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:16 PM
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I haven't read the book yet, but I guess that I don't believe that today's inequality is a natural outcome. The post-war social democratic state could have lasted forever, except the world's elites decided to murder it. IJW Mason called it "the revolt of the overclass". Unregulated capitalism does generate high inequality, and now that we've deregulated it we get the high inequality that goes with it. But where we are today is a political choice. We could restore the 1955 vintage of capitalism if the plutocrats would let us.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:22 PM
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190:

I would guess that would be Dean Baker's opinion also.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:26 PM
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And I think there's something to the idea that social democracy or the mixed economy leads to high growth, and not vice versa (or not just vice versa). Think about the recent plunge in the cost of solar panels. The government set up incentives to reward technological progress, and technological progress is that we got. In general, though, we've set up the incentives to ensure that rich shareholders can extract as much money out of the company as possible, so that the money that once went to inventing the transistor now goes to building superyachts.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:29 PM
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Did Piketty Read Marx ...sandwichman says fuck yeah.

He makes perfectly clear in the interview linked in 42 that he read Marx. He says that he "didn't really read" Capital, which could mean that he didn't finish it, or that he skimmed parts, or whatever, but he said it was a difficult read and didn't particularly influence him. But whatever, gotcha, Frenchie.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:35 PM
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Marx's Capital is 3,000 pages. Nobody has ever read the whole thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:40 PM
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195

Nobody has ever read the whole thing.

Like Being and Time.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:42 PM
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196

Or Being and Nothingness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:49 PM
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197

Or Being There, even though that's only about 150 pages.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:53 PM
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It's possible that 196 being written proves 195 is wrong, but I'm not about to read enough of it to know for certain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 1:53 PM
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Actually, I read Being There, but it didn't particularly influence my work.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 2:09 PM
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I'm going to assume that's a sequel written by Sartre.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 2:56 PM
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Here is an excellent review of Piketty by Bob Kuttner . He appears to be making what seems like Bob's argument, and Walt's too (although much more calmly than Bob), basically that Piketty is too fatalistic about the potential of government policy and fails to understand the positive policy steps taken in mid-century. Makes some excellent points comparing the post-WWI period to the post WWII period, and also credits the massive investment wave of WWII in the U.S.

I have to read the damn book of course, but I'm interested to see if Emerson's review is right -- I suspect that Piketty did not really do a true 'model' that the profession will accept. Of course, neither did Keynes, quite, but Keynes was extremely engaged with theoretical arguments and his work was hugely fertile for all kinds of later formalization. I'm wondering if Piketty's model is really just a way to present his data.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 5:07 PM
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Got my copy.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 5:45 PM
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193: Follow the link in 184.

There is a lot implied in K21, because Piketty neither emphasizes the social justice argument, not does he really get enthusiastic about the Keynesian effective demand argument. His main problem is that inequality will lead to social disorder and revolution or fascism.

Piketty is French, dammit, and France during WWII reconstruction didn't just tax a lot and spend a lot, they motherfucking nationalized the whole fucking country...steel, energy, banking, transportation. I don't know Keynes or his followers have that much influence in France to this day. Other countries don't worship at the altar of Anglo-American economics.

When Abe goes QE and infrastructure, he is not a Keynesian...they have their own analyses and traditions.

Piketty has read his Marx

a) He does want to be shunned by Anglo-Americans and quoting Marx Vol 3 would ensure no one would listen to him

b) In France and Europe they understand Marx. Leaving aside the post-whatevers, to understand and follow Marx is to start filling wine bottles with kerosene, because the rich fucks will not surrender before they kill us all.

How many revolutions and constitutions has France had since 1789?

Piketty wants to avoid that future.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 6:26 PM
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193: Follow the link in 184.

I did.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 8-14 6:32 PM
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201: I thought Bob was making the Marxist argument: The accumulation of capital is a kind of doomsday clock, and the destruction of capital after WW2 set the clock back.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 2:12 AM
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France during WWII reconstruction didn't just tax a lot and spend a lot, they motherfucking nationalized the whole fucking country...steel, energy, banking, transportation

Like the UK, you mean.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 2:28 AM
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Do you think anyone's going to get Erik Lund to read Piketty? I would be interested in that review, I think, maybe.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 3:00 AM
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I keep thinking I should read Lund's blog. The couple of posts I read, where I knew something about the subject matter, left me with a bad case of Gell-Man Amnesia.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 3:45 AM
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208: having now googled that phrase, the disconnect between it's apparent usefulness and the uselessness of its originator and exponents is fascinating. Why is it named for Murray Gell-Mann?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 4:01 AM
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re: 209

You mean Michael Crichton? I don't know. I heard the phrase, and thought it was useful, long before I heard who coined the term. I guess I always assumed it originated in some comment of Gell-Mann's that Crichton was referencing. But that might be wrong.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 4:07 AM
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The way Crichton phrases the quote that's in the first google result supports 210. Presumably G-M never referred to the idea on stage, so Crichton gets the credit. It's a good point, that I hadn't heard made so clearly before.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 4:24 AM
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I read Lund's blog religiously, but lately he's been obscure, rambling, and baroque even by his own rococo standards. Also what the fuck is it with him and hugely out-of-proportion jpeg images?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 4:27 AM
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Incidentally, is this from the Introduction the greatest humblebrag of all time, or what?

I should perhaps add that I experienced the American dream at the age of twenty-two, when I was hired by a University near Boston just after finishing my doctorate.

Fear me, mortals!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 5:04 AM
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>This is apparently Crichton's explanation:

I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.
It does demonstrate a certain share of low cunning on Crichton's part.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 5:11 AM
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This is perhaps the original talk in which he used it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 5:15 AM
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Summers' opinion here is surprising, although given the source I'm not wure I trust that it's accurate.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 10:25 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05- 9-14 10:25 AM
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I received my copy today. The copy I received, although a "new", hardback book, looks as if it has been trampled by an elephant, which makes the consumer in me bristle, but the contents appear all to be there so I guess I'll let it slide. First impression after reading about half of the introduction: the book reads like a translation from another language.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 05-10-14 7:19 PM
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Be sure the consumer has enough holes to get air.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-10-14 7:48 PM
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213: oddly, it's not the university near Boston I expected it to be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-10-14 8:16 PM
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212 is entirely true in every particular. Particularly the jpegs.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05-10-14 8:19 PM
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Anyone who commutes through Penn Station, there are copies of Capital on the new books table in the bookstore by the Amtrack waiting area.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:26 AM
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The Flip-Pater is reading Piketty. Congratulations, nerds: you are no better than an eccentric retired minister in New England. He wears bow ties! Without shame. To meetings in New York City.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:50 AM
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He wears bow ties! Without shame.

And what odds will you give me that the Park Slope hipsters won't be wearing bow ties again by 2016?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:22 AM
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Bow ties are cool.


Posted by: Opinionated Eleventh Doctor | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:27 AM
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I don't know if it's because it's in translation, but I find myself utterly luxuriating in the dry, mechanical style of the introduction. It's satisfyingly clear and unemotional, basically the opposite of how I write. Somewhat perturbed I find it so enjoyable.


Posted by: saheli | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:16 PM
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The French are known for their dry, technical nature.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:18 PM
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Le jour de Piketty est arrivé!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 12:28 PM
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Got it!


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 6:10 AM
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Mine is here! But I won't be able to read it until grades are in.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 6:19 AM
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I have mine. I had to ring, as the various Waterstone's branches that were showing it in stock, had often sold out of them within a few hours.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 6:24 AM
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