Friday, June 7

The Human Use of Human Beings: A Brief History of Suicide Bombing

A nice little overview of this rather interesting phenomena of suicide bombing. It's a very complex situation and cannot be reduced to simplistic solutions. All one can do is to keep an open mind, not easy to do when every body else around you - both on your side and their side has either lost their minds and/or have a closed mind. The lesson here is to stay flexible, resolute and to be brutal about it a bit. And one more thing, don't muck around in foreign adventures. The USA hasn't learnt from history. Take the uk. In the past 3 centuries, we buggered around the world. Leaving our dead in most corners of the world. We got terrorism and and and millions of our young men dead around the world. For what? 

The Human Use of Human Beings: A Brief History of Suicide Bombing | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective

On February 1, 2013, a suicide bomber killed himself and a security guard at America’s embassy in Ankara, Turkey. This attack, carried out more than a decade after 9/11, reveals a great deal about the phenomenon we have come to know as suicide bombing.

First, a radical left-wing group with a vaguely Marxist agenda (The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party in Turkey) claimed responsibility, demonstrating that suicide bombing is not the exclusive domain of religious fanatics.

Second, the bomber detonated his explosives before he had the opportunity to enter the embassy complex. This shows that individual initiative and fallibility are important aspects of the organizational process of suicide bombing—a process that requires expertise and practice to be truly effective.

Finally, the attack confirms that suicide bombing will continue to be a dangerous security nuisance for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, June 6

Princeton's Marriage Market Theory Worked for Me

From an aesthetic and romantic perspective it sounds cold blooded and far too planned. But there is truth in this article. Human behaviour can be modelled. Even if you are not interested in economics, your behaviour and the way society and fellow individuals act behave and are structured are based in economics. 

The benefits of marriage are many and are well known. So in terms of maximising your life's happiness, be on the lookout for a good partner at LSE or Oxford or Cambridge wherever you go. This is the best population for you to find your partner. After this, the chances drop dramatically. It's simple statistics and macroeconomics that you will never come across such watering holes with such high density of potential mates. Don't rely on blind luck son. 

So find a mate by the time you graduate in 20-22 years in uni. This doesn't mean you become celibate. Far from it. Explore. But when you find the one and the point is to find the one in uni. Be with them. Marriage around 25-28 and life will be good. Any changes to this timeline and your lifetime happiness will be reduced or be suboptimal. Simple economics. 

Of course shit happens but plan and aim for the best and prepare for the worst. 



Princeton's Marriage Market Theory Worked for Me - Bloomberg

Most of my research deals with the economics of cities, but I have a smattering of knowledge in the minor field of spouse-meeting at Princeton.

There is usually little demand for such arcana — the American Economic Association has never held a symposium on the topic — but the blogospheric explosion after an alumna’sletter to the Daily Princetonian advising female students to “find a husband on campus before you graduate” led my editor to urge me to weigh in.

While I don’t feel I can provide advice to young women, I am comfortable, based on both personal experience and the infallible majesty of economic theory, urging young male Princetonians to view your female classmates as prospective long-term friends and spouses (the qualifications for the two roles having much in common), rather than short-term amorous encounters.

The letter writer, Susan Patton, is surely right that for many people, college years provide the high point of intense exposure to a wide range of prospective life partners.       

However, my own finely tuned algebraic simulations of an optimal spousal-search model find that while college provides an ideal time to accumulate a large stock of good friends (prospective spouses), it is typically suboptimal to wed at age 21 because of preference uncertainty and the benefits of continuing to meet alternatives.

Wednesday, June 5

How to Save American Finance from Itself

In a previous email Kannu, I told you that we are living in a complicated world which is getting even more complicated. The grand poobahs recognise this. Instead of simplifying they decide to add to complexity by adding giant rafts of regulation. Adding much more complexity. And that's just now. 

Here's an economics Nobel prize winner talking about his student who is the fed chief and asking for a more complex set of instruments to manage the economies and financial markets. And taking a gratuitous swing at hedgies. 

The result? Another crash is coming. Guaranteed. Before you are 25. So what can you do? Avoid debt son. As much as possible. Have your investments in good solid sectors and companies who will keep on operating despite downturns and crashes. Have a technical skill son that will always give you a job. Or if you are running a firm, then be in one which will always have demand. Keep an eye on your cash flow. Or marry a rich girl :) 

But the article is interesting from a macroeconomics perspective. It's people like these who will be running the world when you graduate and start looking for work or are working. It takes time for macroeconomic prescriptions to work it's way through the economy and hit individuals. So decisions taken today will impact you in 3-5 years time. 

I studied wave theory once. Ocean waves. The science is poorly understood even now. Which wave will just give you a ripple or give you a dunking or a great surf is difficult to know. The ocean interacts with temperature, wind, continental shelf topology, currents, gravitation, climate, seashore landscape in poorly understood ways. So what does a surfer do? Understand as much as possible. Be prepared. Take chances. 



How to Save American Finance from Itself | New Republic

TNR Player


Other stories from April 27, 2013


How to Save American Finance from Itself Has financialization gone too far?


Central banking is not rocket science, but neither is it a trivial pursuit. Excellent books have continued to be written about the art and craft of central banking, from Walter Bagehot’s Lombard Street in 1873 to Alan Blinder’s Central Banking in Theory and Practice in 1998. Running a central bank is in one way a little bit like flying a plane or sailing a boat: much of the time standard responses and small adjustments will do just fine, but every so often a situation arises in which fundamental understanding, knowledge of history, and good judgment can make the difference between riding out the storm and crashing. There was no such person in charge in 1929, and the result was disaster. There was one in 2008.

In his earlier scholarly life, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, had been a careful student of the general interaction between the financial system and the real economy and especially of its working out in the Great Depression of the 1930s. So he had done his homework. His decisive and innovative actions at the Fed saved our economy from free fall with a possibly catastrophic end. I once non-joked that Bernanke was the Captain Kirk of central banking: he had loaned where no man had loaned before. In a life before turning to government service, first as a member of the Federal Reserve Board, then briefly as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and then returning to the Fed as chairman in 2006, Bernanke was a well-known and highly respected academic economist. (The reader should know that I was one of his teachers in graduate school at MIT, and have remained a friend.) My opinion is that, after a briefly hesitant start as Fed chairman, probably still under the considerable aura of Alan Greenspan, Bernanke rose admirably to a difficult occasion and has been generally right in his judgments and his decisions, and in his willingness and his ability to explain both.

In March 2012, George Washington University invited Bernanke to give four lectures as part of a course devoted to the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. The lectures are now reproduced in book form, apparently from lightly edited transcripts. Each lecture ends with half a dozen questions from anonymous “students” and Bernanke’s answers. Some of the questions are smart, some less so, in which case Bernanke exhibits the professorial skill of seamlessly answering a slightly different question. We are not told anything about the audience. I imagine a lot of people wanted to hear about the Federal Reserve and the financial crisis from the chairman himself. It’s rather like hearing Admiral Nelson reminisce about the battle of Trafalgar.

Tuesday, June 4

Search for the USS Thresher

A fascinating account of the search for a sunken submarine son. Put yourself in the seat of the commander of the operation. So many difficult decisions to take. 

April 10, 1963: Search for the USS Thresher | Naval History Blog

This article was published in the May 1964 issue of Proceedings as “Searching for the Thresher” by Frank A. Andrews, Captain, U.S. Navy.

The Thresher search was very much an ad hoc operation. On 10 April 1963, the day of theThresher‘s loss, there was no real search organization, no search technique, nor specific operating procedures for locating an object lying on the ocean bottom at 8,400 feet. In the first frantic hours after the Thresher‘s loss, a full scale search effort consisting of 13 ships was laid on with the aim of scouring the ocean for possible life or floating signs from the Thresher. Within 20 search hours, all hope for survivors had passed, and the entire Thresher project began to change character from that of a standard Navy search and rescue opera­tion to that of an oceanographic expedition. This special expedition soon consisted of three ad hoc elements, which, as later events were to show, combined in a most successful and harmonious manner in support of searching out the Thresher‘s hull.

Monday, June 3

Review of Rachel Duffett’s The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the Soldiers of the Great War


Hope you liked the omelette of last night. Perhaps too many greens in there but have them son, it gives you a nice high protein diet with tons of vitamins and minerals. 

This is a great book review about food. Food for soldiers. Remember I told you the quote? Amateurs talk about tactics. Professionals talk about logistics. In whichever field of work son, you have to have a firm grasp of logistics. Most activities are won or lost due to logistics. In the business world as well. That's what is going to give you the reputation of competence. As and how you rise through the ranks, your job is to ensure that men materials and money are available in the right time at the right place at the right amounts. Alexander said, if I lose a battle I come back and kill my logistician. 

Details son details. That's the key. Think of the logistics of feeding a million soldiers in the middle of wartime. 



Canadian Military History – Review of Rachel Duffett’s The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the Soldiers of the Great War by Matthew Walthert

Rachel Duffett, The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the Soldiers of the Great War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012). 269 pages.

Reviewed by Matthew Walthert (Carleton University)

Anyone who has studied the First World War has read about the food. Complaints about bully beef, alternate uses for rock-hard biscuits, and generals fattening themselves behind the lines while the troops suffered from ration shortages at the front are common features of many Great War histories. Despite these oft-repeated stories, the enlisted man’s relationship with his food (official ration and otherwise) has not been the subject of a scholarly, book-length study, until now. Using the diaries and memoirs of the rank-and-file soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Rachel Duffett has put together a detailed review of ordinary soldiers’ experiences with food on the Western Front.

In The Stomach for Fighting, Duffett exposes truisms –  such as the enlisted men having better diets in the military than in pre-war, working-class England – which have crept out of sometimes self-congratulatory official statistics and histories, or overly-optimistic army ration scales. In The Last Great War, Adrian Gregory explored some of these clich├ęs, particularly as they related to the British home front. Here, Duffett turns to the actual soldiers, whose caloric needs were being met, but were often less-than-thrilled with their food. Using a variety of published and unpublished letters, diaries and memoirs, she breaks new ground in looking not only at what (and how much) enlisted men ate, but also their reactions to their food.