Monday, April 15, 2013

Best of the Week

Some good stuff I've read in the past week or so...

Letterman's retirement feels increasingly imminent; his contract is up in two years, he'll be 67, he likes to play at home with his son (one imagines Dave-as-Godfather-Marlon Brandon stuffing orange rinds into his gap-toothed mouth to amuse the lad in their backyard), and his decision will doubtless be a combo of personal choice and Les Moonves strong-arming.  When Letterman does retire, the entire history and mythology of the nighttime talk show will finally come to an end.  No one other than Dave does it with the same combination of intent to further precedent, awareness of lineage, and motivation to unite a mass audience that began with Steve Allen't Tonight.

Matt Yglesias makes the excellent point that promoting efficiency and innovation aren't the same thing:

A visit to San Francisco over the past few days really crystallized in my head the important distinction between increased efficiency in the allocation of resources and fundamental innovation...  San Francisco is a hotbed of inefficiency and what any economically literate person would recognize as bad public policy...  That said, while San Francisco is a hotbed of inefficiency it's also a hotbed of real innovation. The corridor that starts in San Francisco and runs down to San Jose is the premiere cluster of technological innovation in the world and has been for some time...  Human existence is complicated and it's no surprise that there's a lot we don't really understand about it.  But you frequently see an effort to simply subsume the question of innovation into the question of efficiency.  Like if you want a high-innovation economy you just need a lot of sound market-oriented efficiency-promoting public policies, such that true prosperity stems from Oklahoma and the Dakotas with their libertarian-approved policy frameworks.

And, a cool app that shows the entire scale of the universe.  Drag the bar to move from 10-35 m to 1026 m.