VGDensetsu on the Gigaleak and video game preservation

This wonderful article by Dom Auffret (VGDensetsu) is full of interesting information – so much, in fact, that it is difficult to choose what to highlight.

Here is one sad bit:

At Square Enix, on the other hand, some files could not be saved in time and some games’ source codes were lost. In addition to the Mana series previously mentioned, we know that the source code of the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy VIII has disappeared, forcing the developers of the HD version to fall back on the code of the PC version whose music is slightly different. Same with the first episode of Kingdom Hearts; the developers of the 1.5 HD Remix version had to analyze in depth a commercial copy and recreate many assets. An example that echoes the story a developer posted in 2010 in which he explained that, as part of a port of various Midway arcade games, the editor in charge of the project was unable to get his hands on the source code of Spy Hunter, so he had to download the game’s ROM in order to extract the graphics via MAME and retrieve the sound files from a fan site, among other things.

I rarely play video games nowadays, but I enjoy reading about it once in a while – especially on history.

Facebook censors Nicholas White video about chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine

A few weeks ago, I published a video by renowned scientist Nicholas White on the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

Bizarrely, it was censored by Facebook.

Brazilian scientist Claudia Paiva wrote a post with a link to the video. Hours later, it was removed. Here’s Facebook’s explanation:

Your post goes against our Community Standards on misinformation that could cause physical harm

No one else can see your post.

We encourage free expression, but don’t allow false information about COVID-19 that could contribute to physical harm.

This is absurd. White says we do not know whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine work against COVID-19 and does not advocate their use in treatments. Why the censorship?

A ridiculous and unjustifiable decision from Facebook.

A letter on Emmanuel Farhi’s death

This was written by a childhood friend of Emmanuel Farhi. As Twitter user @BiasedStats notes, the third paragraph makes it worth sharing.

(Below the line, with no indentation.)

As most of you may have now heard, Emmanuel Farhi died by his own hand last week. He was a childhood friend of mine and even if we had been estranged for a long time, I feel this sad news compels or at least allows me to write this message. By all possible measures, Emmanuel was the gold standard of the profession: full professor at Harvard Economics Department, recipient of countless awards, esteemed colleague, coauthor and advisor.

I am not aware of the specifics of his personal situation. Of course, life can be difficult on many aspects other than work. However, in our profession arguably more than in others, professional and personal levels are quite often intertwined. According to the numerous reactions to his passing, Emmanuel counted many friends in the profession, who now refer to his brilliance (“true scholar”, “shooting star”, “super-human”, “best economist of his generation”, etc.). I believe this kind of tributes, however well intentioned, may also be problematic.

In Emmanuel’s case, such awe might have isolated him. In my case, I know that I forbade myself to get in touch with him as much as I could/should have because I did not feel entitled to do so. This kind of feeling is nurtured by the very hierarchical aspect of economic research, which, true enough, is not specific to economics, but is compounded by the reflective nature of our field, where we have a tendency to analyze our daily actions with economic metaphors and, among other examples, take a special interest in the determinants and the measure of individual and group productivity, as well as the structure of careers, using the example of academics.

The challenge we face is to create and maintain an ambitious and stimulating environment without losing sight of what makes academic life so great: collaborative work and a sense of collective, inclusive endeavor. This is all the more important for the newcomers, especially PhD students, who may struggle to adjust to new – and questionable – professional norms and are quite susceptible to mental distress, as discussed in this recent paper. This is also a crucial issue for the months (hopefully, not years) to come, when sanitary restrictions will limit actual human interactions and the generalization of online operations may increase exposure to global competition in possibly detrimental ways. Let us discuss about all this.

Nicholas White on the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for prevention of COVID-19

Nicholas White has been one of the few lucid, balanced voices on the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in treatment against COVID-19.

He is co-principal investigator of COPCOV, a randomised, placebo-controlled prophylaxis study to determine whether those drugs prevent the novel coronavirus disease in the healthcare setting.

In this video, recorded in July 2020, he says that we still don’t know if chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine work and that it’s been hard to find out because the politicisation has been interfering with the conduct of the studies.

[UPDATE – 11 August] Read the full transcript below the line.
Continue lendo “Nicholas White on the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for prevention of COVID-19”

Poultry processing in the United States

Here are two videos about it:

I found the first video in this nice article by Nicholas Kristof about “what our great-grandchildren will find bewilderingly immoral about our own times — and about us.”

YouTube suggested me the second one.

P.S. I was going to stop writing in English (it is hard enough to write in Portuguese), but then I saw that more than 20 per cent of my visitors are from the United States. Now I don’t know what to do.

Stupidity and journalism

Bertrand Russell, in A History of Western Philosophy:

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something that he can understand.

Steven Pinker, in his review of Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw:

An eclectic essayist is necessarily a dilettante, which is not in itself a bad thing. But Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “sagittal plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.

Scott Adams, in Dilbert:

Dilbert, 11 July 1994


Jordan Peterson: ‘Ideologues love vagueness’

Jordan Peterson, on Quora:

Ideologues love vagueness, but specificity is their enemy, because their low-resolution theories cannot deal with differentiated facts. One such example is the standard radical left claim, often implicit, that all differences in power that can be observed between any groups of people spring from injustice. You can make such a claim axiomatic, by defining injustice as that which produces differences in power between groups of people. You can extend it to include all differences in power between individuals as well. The advantage so such a claim are twofold. First, you have a convenient answer to a very large set of very complex questions, so you don’t have to study, and research and think. Second, you can claim the moral high-ground, as someone who “opposes discrimination.” It’s a pretty pathetic game, intellectually and morally, and has spawned some seriously virulent and murderous thoughts and actions. You have to go after such dough-like overgeneralization with very sharp knives.

I agree. Unfortunately, many ideologues have a wide appeal.

‘Journal of Political Economy’, 125

Founded in 1892, the prestigious Journal of Political Economy, published by the University of Chicago Press, turned 125 in 2017. The latest edition of the year includes a collection of commemorative essays entitled “The Past, Present and Future of Economics: A Celebration of the 125-Year Anniversary of the JPE and Chicago Economics”.

The introduction was written by John List, chairperson of the department of economics at the University of Chicago, and Harald Uhlig, head editor of the JPE.

We invited our senior colleagues at the department and several at Booth to contribute to this collection of essays. We asked them to contribute around 5 pages of final printed pages plus references, providing their own and possibly unique perspective on the various fields that we cover.

There was not much in terms of instructions. On purpose, this special section is intended as a kaleidoscope, as a colorful assembly of views and perspectives, with the authors each bringing their own perspective and personality to bear. Each was given a topic according to his or her specialty as a starting point, though quite a few chose to deviate from that, and that was welcome. […]

We asked that their contribution be about what the field has accomplished or about where the field might or should be going in the future. It is probably the nature of the beast that all chose a largely backward-looking perspective, providing an overview of how the field has developed over time and how the JPE helped this process along by publishing some of the key ideas and key contributions. But hop on board and start reading!

Lars Peter Hansen, Eugene Fama, Richard Thaler, Luigi Zingales, Robert Lucas, James Heckman, and Steven Levitt are some of the authors who chose to collaborate in the special edition. What a great team.

Access to the collection of essays is free.

Tyler Cowen on ‘Bloomberg View’

Interesting post by Tyler Cowen on Bloomberg View:

One of the most striking features of BV, from my personal point of view, is how many of the writers I was actively reading and following before they started with BV. […]

One day I woke up and realized these people write for Bloomberg View, or that people like them were going to, and then it occurred to me that maybe I should too. And there are still Bloomberg View writers I haven’t really discovered yet. (By the way, one reason all these people are so good is because of the consistently excellent editors.)

What is the common element behind all of these writers? I would say that Bloomberg View tends to hire reading-loving, eclectic polymaths, with both academic knowledge and real world experience, and whose views cannot always be predicted from their other, previous writings.

Over the last year, I think I would nominate Ross Douthat as The Best Columnist. But overall I think Bloomberg View has assembled the most talented and diverse group of opinion contributors out there, bar none.

On top of all that, BV is perhaps the least gated major opinion website.

The list of columnists for Bloomberg View is really admirable. It may be even possible to say that, within a certain scope, Bloomberg View alone is better than all of Brazil (i.e., considering all its news publications) when it comes to opinion writers.

Sebastián Piñera, economist

Sebastián Piñera, recently elected to the presidency of Chile (a position he held from 2010 to 2014), has a PhD in economics from Harvard. He has published articles in the Journal of Economic History, the Journal of Development Economics, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics, all of them top journals.

(Interesting: Google Scholar returns different results in searches for “Sebastian Pinera” and “ Sebastián Piñera”.)