Weekly Roundup 09: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

Weekly Roundup

1. Absolutely Fantastic Collections Of Keynes Writings – Via Brad De Long – I will go through the book [Keynes’s General Theory], chapter by chapter, with an eye toward a deeper understanding of what Keynes wrote and why it is, as Greg says, so important. I’m not yet sure what kind of pace I can maintain but order your copy here, now. The Kindle version is only $3.96. We’ll do chapters 1 and 2 by next Monday, eight days from now. I am of a different view than Tyler. I think that the most important things by Keynes to read do not include the General Theory.My list of General Theory-length reading from Keynes is this:

2. The Age Of Mass Intelligence – Via Intelligent Life – We’ve all heard about dumbing down. But there is plenty of evidence that the opposite is also true. Is this, in fact, the age of mass intelligence? John Parker reports…

3. The Money Masters Documentary – Via Freedocumentaries.Net -“This film is probably the best history movie you will ever see in your life. In total it is about 5 hours of footage but worth every second. You will probably learn more in 5 hours of watching this film than you will learn in any college history class. Fasten your seat belts.”

4. Proxy Democracy – Via Proxy Democracy.org- Great website for shareholders to practice their rights. Its not an article but definitely worth a look. -A company’s stockholders have the legal right to decide important decisions at the companies they own: they elect directors, review aspects of executive compensation, and weigh in on shareholder proposals addressing a variety environmental, social, and governance issues. History has shown that shareholders can use their voting power to create value — both economic and social — at the companies they own.

5. Is It Worth Going To The Mind Gym – Via New Scientist – For those who believe that claim, there are dozens if not hundreds of brain-boosting games now on the market, not to mention a plethora of books and magazines on the same subject. The best-known product is a video game called Dr Kawashima’s Brain Age, developed by neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima from Tohoku University in Japan; it is marketed in the UK and Australia as Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? and endorsed by actress Nicole Kidman. While each brain trainer makes slightly different claims, broadly speaking they offer one of two benefits. Either they will “enhance normal brain functioning” – things like attention, memory and processing speed – or they will “slow down the inevitable decline that comes with age”. Practically all of the companies say that their programs are based on the latest scientific evidence.

6. Is This A Unified Theory Of The Brain – Via New Scientists Life – The quest to understand the most complex object in the known universe has been a long and fruitful one. These days we know a good deal about how the human brain works – how our senses translate into electrical signals, how different parts of the brain process these signals, how memories form and how muscles are controlled. We know which brain regions are active when we listen to speech, look at paintings or barter over money. We are even starting to understand the deeper neural processes behind learning and decision-making. What we still don’t have, though, is a way to bring all these pieces together to create an overarching theory of how the brain works.

7. Forgetfulness Is Key To A Healthy Mind – Via NS- She is one of a handful of people with similar abilities now working with neuroscientists to find out how and why they remember so much. As their brains are probed for clues, one thing is becoming clear: having a normal healthy memory isn’t just about retaining the significant stuff. Far more important is being able to forget the rest.

8. Grappling With Risk The New Value Investing Way – via Columbia – With Security Analysis, Graham and Dodd laid out a superb analysis that has stood the test of time. But their prescription for risk management was to say, “Buy bonds.” In their time, when they looked at the overall economic environment and at risk properly defined, bonds were where they saw methods and opportunities to control risk. Today, value investors think about managing risks in more sophisticated ways.

9.  Smart People Better Able To Keep A Beat – Via Discover – In the intellectual hierarchy of rock and roll, drummers aren’t typically perceived as the most brilliant of band members. But a Swedish study published in April found that the ability to keep closely to a beat is a sign of superior intelligence. Investigators from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Umeå University asked 30 men recruited from the general population to listen to the steady clonk of a sampled cowbell and then tap out the same plain beat on a drum pad. The test was repeated at seven different tempos, and the results were then compared with the recruits’ IQ scores. Although the subjects’ deviations from the test rhythm were too subtle to be detected by the ear, the study found that the subjects with the highest IQs kept closest to the beat.

10. The Beautiful Mind Gallery – Via Enception – A Beautiful Gallery Of Brain Images

11. Video:The Flynn Effect – Via Intelligence Testing – The Flynn effect is the rise of average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test scores over the generations, an effect seen in most parts of the world, although at greatly varying rates. It is named after James R. Flynn, who did much to document it and promote awareness of its implications

12. Waldman’ On The Economic Concept Of Overcapacity – Via Interfluidity – Think about that: “overcapacity in almost all industries”. Perhaps we exist in a more enlightened world than I ever imagined. I’ve always thought that human want for material goods was basically unlimited. Apparently not! We have enough, not just here in the once gluttonous U.S. of A., but everywhere. All of the nearly seven billion humans of planet Earth have no use for anything more than they already have. Subsistence farmers in Africa prefer to live as they do, because it plays charmingly in National Geographic. If you offered them 10 million Yuan and a shopping trip, they’d shyly refuse. The world does not now, and never has had, a general problem with “overcapacity”. It might be sensible to talk about overcapacity with respect to a particular good or service in a particular setting. Maybe five Starbucks Cafes really are too many for one city block. But as a macroeconomic phenomenon, overcapacity is bullshit. Capacity can be misaligned — there might be too many sock factories for too few shoe factories. But there can be no general overcapacity, only underutilization.

13. Why Believing In The Paranormal Is Good For Us – Via LA Times – I’m used to some American media outlets shamelessly feeding crap to the public. Think Fox so-called News, for instance. But the Los Angeles Times? That’s supposed to be one of the most highly respectable papers in the country, on par with the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune or the Boston Globe. Well, once again I was wrong. David Klinghoffer published an opinion piece in the LA Times that argued that belief in the paranormal is not just, well, normal, but actually good for you.

14. The Board’s Role In Corporate Strategy – Via Harvard Law Blog – Corporate strategy is a difficult undertaking for directors, even in the best of times. While management draws on significant resources to develop and refine corporate strategy, directors have fewer opportunities to contribute to the endeavor. It is not surprising then that while CEOs suggest that participating in corporate strategy is the second most important activity that their boards undertake, they give their boards only the 11th highest grade for their performance in this realm. “What’s the board’s role in strategy development?: Engaging the board in corporate strategy”, David A. Nadler, Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 32 No. 5, 2004. The difficulty of developing corporate strategy, as well as the stakes involved, increase significantly in times of economic crisis such as we are facing today.

15. Seeing What We Don’t Know – Via Digital Roam – was really taken with her column in the new January 2009 issue of Flying. She talks about the steps a pilot goes through in learning to fly… and then the steps a pilot goes through getting good at flying. And she’s right: they’re not the same thing. Although Lane is talking specifically about flight training, her insights apply equally to anyone learning to do anything challenging, and I was intrigued by a quote I’d never heard before – so intrigued, that I decided to make it visual in order to better roll it around in my head.

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

14. December 2002 by Miguel Barbosa
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