Author Archives: mike

The Illusion of Scarcity

The American Historical Association just called for a six year embargo on the release of dissertations. At the moment, you write a dissertation and it goes to your university’s library, which typically makes a digital copy available to the public, often for free. The AHA argues that if your dissertation is available free in digital […]

What do they think “racist” means?

Jason Richwine got a Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard in 2009 He wrote his dissertation on comparative IQ and its role in immigration policy. Richwine’s dissertation argued that Hispanics had consistently lower IQs than other Americans and that this difference persisted over time. He further argued that we must consider this when formulating immigration […]

More on gay economics

Yesterday I posted on Niall Ferguson’s claim that Keynes was a bad economist because he was gay and a Bloomsbury aesthete. I argued that Ferguson’s claim was consistent with his desire to “naturalize” economics, to make it bear a relation to biological law, and quoted the Ascent of Money to make the argument. And now […]

Gay economists

Recently economic historian Niall Ferguson claimed that J. M. Keynes was a bad economist because he was gay. Lacking children, Ferguson claimed, Keynes didn’t care about the long term. Further, Keynes was “effete,” married to a ballerina, fond of poetry and thus, for unclear reasons, a bad economist. You can find a good account here. […]

The Bitcoin Bubble

Bitcoins are a kind of money, but with no physical substance. They were invented by an unknown group of computer programmers early in the last decade. The designers imagined them as an alternative money, free from control by government. They’re “made” by software which is highly protected, so you can’t simply just make more yourself. […]

The worst memorial in the country

It’s the WWII memorial, which occupies a tragically central place on the national mall. It’s awful. Good art is hard, and rare. Thankfully, public art this bad is rare as well. I’m not alone in thinking it’s a really terrible piece of work, but maybe I can explain why. For a historian, the first problem […]

Dancing Queen

Last week Jimmy Fallon released a modestly funny, very interesting segment from his show. The bit, titled “the history of mom dancing,” features Fallon, dressed as a mom, and First Lady Michelle Obama, sort of dressed as a mom, dancing to a generic light club  beat. if for some reason the video won’t embed–try this link […]

The Make White People Behave Act

Yesterday’s blog post concerned Antonin Scalia’s grotesque reconstruction of the Voting Rights Act, which insures that everyone gets to vote, as an example of “racial entitlement.” But when Justice Roberts took his turn questioning the Voting Rights Act yesterday, he asked: Is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist […]

Perpetual racial entitlements

At the moment the Supreme Court is hearing argments for and against the Voting Rights Act. The Act, passed in 1964, gives the federal government supervisory authority over elections in places where there has been a long pattern of disfranchisement, e.g. “the South.” Scalia made this comment about the Voting Rights Act:  I think it […]

Slavery and the profits of abolition

Historians can’t quite make up their mind about abolition. Nobody wants slavery to return, and historians initially tended to praise abolitionists as moral visionaries. In England William Wilberforce is a hero for helping convince England to end slavery in 1833. In the US, Wilberforce was more recently  the inspiration for political-thug-turned-moral-crusader Chuck Colson’s crusade agains […]