Human cycles: History as science Sometimes, history really does seem to repeat itself. After the US Civil War, for example, a wave of urban violence fuelled by ethnic and class resentment swept across the country, peaking in about 1870. Internal strife spiked again in around 1920, when race riots, workers' strikes and a surge of anti-Communist feeling led many people to think that revolution was imminent. And in around 1970, unrest crested once more, with violent student demonstrations, political assassinations, riots and terrorism (see 'Cycles of violence'). To Peter Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the appearance of three peaks of political instability at roughly 50-year intervals is not a coincidence. Cliodynamics is viewed with deep scepticism by most academic historians, who tend to see history as a complex stew of chance, individual foibles and one-of-a-kind situations that no broad-brush 'science of history' will ever capture. From ecology to history
Do fonts affect people's opinions? You may remember a short piece by Errol Morris in the Times a few weeks ago that was more of a quiz than a essay. Well, the quiz turned out to be a smokescreen for how people's opinions change when the text is set in different typefaces. Each Times participant read the passage in one of six randomly assigned fonts - Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans and Trebuchet. The questions, ostensibly about optimism or pessimism, provided data about the influence of fonts on our beliefs. The test consisted of comparing the responses and determining whether font choice influenced our perception of the truth of the passage. The results pointed to a small but noticeable effect in the authority of each font. DAVID DUNNING: Baskerville seems to be the king of fonts. Update: Pentagram's Michael Bierut weighs in on Morris' article. Whether or not a typeface can do any or all of those things, I do agree the landscape has changed.
Review: The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett We are rich enough. Economic growth has done as much as it can to improve material conditions in the developed countries, and in some cases appears to be damaging health. If Britain were instead to concentrate on making its citizens' incomes as equal as those of people in Japan and Scandinavia, we could each have seven extra weeks' holiday a year, we would be thinner, we would each live a year or so longer, and we'd trust each other more. The Spirit Level : Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett Epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett don't soft-soap their message. It is brave to write a book arguing that economies should stop growing when millions of jobs are being lost, though they may be pushing at an open door in public consciousness. The authors point out that the life-diminishing results of valuing growth above equality in rich societies can be seen all around us.
Garamond or Garamont? This small engraving (47 by 28 mm) was included by Léonard Gaultier towards the end of the 16th century in his ‘Portraits of illustrious men who have flourished in France since the year 1500 until the present’. It is the only image we have of the maker of printing types whose name has been better known for longer than that of any other. It gives his name as ‘Claude Garamont’. Was this how he spelt it himself? And is this how should we spell the name now? (Note: The combination of r and a is an awkward one for italic types of this date, where the form of a slopes up to a point and leaves a gap: it would be better if the r could be kerned to fill the space, but because, as shown here, it may need to be placed next to tall characters like i and b this cannot be done routinely. One of the most prominent and well-marketed ‘Garamond’ types was among the group of early historically-based classics from major makers of types in the years before and after the First World War.
The Sons Also Rise Here are the stages of inequality rationalization: 1. Rising inequality? 2. 3. John Quiggin sees Tyler Cowen making the transition from #2 to #3, and does a systematic demolition job. Go read Quiggin. The official ideology of America’s elite remains one of meritocracy, just as our political leadership pretends to be populist. And here it comes. Typeface classification The classification of typefaces is one of those topics which proves enduringly attractive in typographic debate. Yet, beyond such abstract discussions, the issue of how we might order type has very real implications on the way we write about and teach typographic history. It was this very practical aspect of classification which prompted my involvement in the field as I sought to address the particular problem of how to make accessible to students some understanding of the great diversity of typeforms now available to them. My purpose here is to share the results of my experiences in developing a new description framework for typeforms - and here I should say Latin typeforms - with a view to prompting feed-back and a future pooling of knowledge, so that these ideas can be refined still further. Typeform description in the twentieth century First, the reliance of the British Standard upon a ‘top down’ approach to categorisation. Then there followed the scholarly surveys. A new response
Running out of excuses The latest data on US incomes make for grim reading , both as regards the bottom of the income distribution where the number in (absolute) poverty is at an all-time high (the proportion of the population was the highest since 1993), and in the middle, where median household incomes have fallen back to the 1997 level. For some groups, such as male wage earners without college education, real incomes haven’t risen since around 1970 Having discussed this issue before I’m familiar with most of the standard arguments used to show that things really aren’t that bad. The big ones are (i) household size is decreasing (ii) the consumer price index doesn’t take adequate account of product quality (iii) the Earned Income Tax Credit isn’t taken into account (iv) health insurance and other benefits are undervalue fn1. I’m not going to bother with another round of “people have more of things that have become relatively cheaper”.
Le innovazioni tecniche nella stampa tipografica l torchio, pur non subendo modifiche tali da stravolgerne la struttura complessiva, subì nel corso degli anni numerosi perfezionamenti, volti soprattutto a semplificarne il funzionamento e ad incrementarne la produttività. Come abbiamo già accennato, tra XV e XVI secolo si era passati dalla vite in legno alla vite in rame, e dal pianale portaforma in pietra a quello in ghisa. Nel 1620 il tipografo olandese Willem Janszoon Blaeu introdusse l'automazione della leva e del carrello mobile, mediante un sistema di tiranti collegati a dei contrappesi. Nel XVII secolo comparvero vari modelli di torchio completamente metallici, di certo più precisi e veloci di quelli in legno, e meno soggetti a usura. Nel 1814 Koenig, su incarico del Times di Londra, assemblò una piano-cilindrica doppia azionata da una macchina a vapore, ottenendo l'allora incredibile cifra di 1600 copie orarie. La Linotype è una macchina per la composizione meccanica delle pagine di stampa. Torna ad inizio pagina
How (not) to defend entrenched inequality The endless EU vs US debate rolls on, but now with an odd twist. Although the objective facts about economic inequality, immobility and so on are far worse in the US than the EU, the political situation seems more promising. (I’m not talking primarily about electoral politics but about the nature of public debate.) In the EU, the right has succeeded in taking a crisis caused primarily by banks (including the central bank, and bank regulators) and blaming it on government profligacy, which is then being used to push through yet more of the neoliberal policies that caused the crisis. By contrast the success of Occupy Wall Street have changed the US debate, in ways that I think will be hard to reverse. This post by Tyler Cowen is an indication of how far things have moved. Update Cowen offers a non-response response here. Cowen makes seven arguments, ranging from weak to risible. 3. 5. A lot of handwaving here. 4. Another version of the same argument. 6. 2. 1. 7. fn1. fn2.
Tyler Cowen Education and personal life Cowen was born in Bergen County on January 21, 1962. At the age of 15, Cowen became the youngest ever New Jersey state chess champion. Cowen graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor of science degree in economics in 1983 and received his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1987 with thesis titled Essays in the theory of welfare economics. At Harvard, he was mentored by game theorist Thomas Schelling, the 2005 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is married to Natasha Cowen, a lawyer. Writings Culture The Los Angeles Times has described Cowen as "a man who can talk about Haitian voodoo flags, Iranian cinema, Hong Kong cuisine, Abstract Expressionism, Zairian music and Mexican folk art with seemingly equal facility". One of Cowen's primary research interests is the economics of culture. Recent books In 2013 he published Average is Over on the future of modern economies. New York Times columns
Things I Forgot to Note at the Time: Tyler Cowen Doubles Down on His Claim That America Today Has too Much Income Mobiliy Washington Center for Equitable Growth It seems to me that it would be a good idea if I signed on to this Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and tried to drive the conversation. Let us try to focus our conversation on what is truly important, for all of our sakes: Let me try to bring four things together: 1. My promise to you: If you share our interest in public policy that leads to growth-with-equity—and would like to see a 21st century that is an American Century in a these-are-people-to-emulate rather than we-fear-their-drones-and-their-blackmail sense—then: 1.