Hello World!

This site is an attempt to bring some of my different posts in different social media and blogs that I want to preserve in one place, and to present new material on economics, photography, and whatever else interests me.

Who am I? The signatures of the posts here say I am “cogiddo”. This is an amusing (to me, at least) bit of wordplay I invented years ago, inserting my initials “dd” into the “cogito” of the famous Descartes saying cogito ergo sum. The name you would know me by in real life, however, is Dimitrios Diamantaras. More information on the About page.

This post will stay in top position. Please scroll down for every other post. To see all my posts in the “Economics” category, you can visit this page; for “Photography”, this page, and so on. For a live listing of categories, expand the Menu by clicking/tapping on the “Menu and Widgets” link on the upper right.

Paul Romer on the state of macroeconomics

Paul Romer, from whom I had the privilege to receive instruction in the first semester of my PhD studies, and who has gone on to great things, sees trouble in the way mainstream macroeconomics is done. He has been writing about this in various ways for a while, notably when he introduced the notion of “mathiness” (search for the term on this very blog to see what I had to say about it). His diagnosis about the trouble with macroeconomics, which is quite convincing to me, is here.

Big news on the Wolfram language

Wolfram Alpha has been freely accessible on the Web for some time now. It allows anyone to do some of the work that Mathematica can do, in a browser. Now, it looks like the new Wolfram language, a very ambitious project to open up programming to many more people, is also going to be freely available on the Wolfram “cloud”. Details in this post by Wolfram himself. When I get some time freed up, I want to play with this!

Yonatan Zunger about fear, exhaustion, but also hope

Here is an excellent post by Yonatan Zunger about how the Internet has developed into a “moral prosthesis” that lets us know about and empathize with the troubles of people everywhere. This is exhausting, but it may well lead to strengthening our social bonds, when we learn how to manage the stress it comes with. I strongly recommend reading the original at the link.

https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/hope-fear-and-exhaustion-in-a-changing-world-4d05d2d8cfaa?source=userActivityShare-106c32e19049-1472436282

My smugmug.com site

Recently I was motivated to make a Smugmug website to showcase my photos. I have, as a result, reduced the number of photo posts I make here. But I don’t want to leave you without any photo posts! Here is a gallery of photos of flowers and trees in my Smugmug site, and once you are there, feel free to navigate to other galleries and note that you can order prints of photos you like right from the page: https://dimitrios-diamantaras.smugmug.com/Flowers/

Mathematicians’ good thought habits

Once in a while, I come across a gem of a post that I can file away to use in my teaching and advising, not to mention my constant struggle to think better and more productively as an economist (actually, in any area where I happen to be trying to think well). Here is one such gem, by Jeremy Kun. Enjoy! I am pretty sure you will find it enlightening even if (perhaps especially if) you are not thinking mathematically and consider those who do crushing bores. You’ve been warned!

A dissection of the humanities-sciences distinction

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci published a great essay on Aeon, entitled “Who knows what”. In this essay, Pigliucci argues that neither the humanities nor the sciences should “have the last word on culture”, to quote a part of the URL of the essay. (It is not often that I find that the URL of a web page has a better title than the page itself, but this one certainly does.) EO Wilson’s book Consilience comes in for a thorough critique, without disparagement. Lots of topics that fascinate me make an appearance and Pigliucci discusses them well: culture and its evolution, the problem of induction, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems—these are some prime examples. I recommend this essay to you wholeheartedly, curious reader. Here are the two concluding paragraphs, which resonated with me perhaps more than all the others:

Seen this way, the differences between philosophy, biology, physics, the social sciences and so on might not be the result of the arbitrary caprice of academic administrators and faculty; they might instead reflect a natural way in which human beings understand the world and their role in it. There might be better ways to organise our knowledge in some absolute sense, but perhaps what we have come up with is something that works well for us, as biological-cultural beings with a certain history.

This isn’t a suggestion to give up, much less a mystical injunction to go ‘beyond science’. There is nothing beyond science. But there is important stuff before it: there are human emotions, expressed by literature, music and the visual arts; there is culture; there is history. The best understanding of the whole shebang that humanity can hope for will involve a continuous dialogue between all our various disciplines. This is a more humble take on human knowledge than the quest for consilience, but it is one that, ironically, is more in synch with what the natural sciences tell us about being human.

Good news about a new antibiotic

I don’t write about science and medicine enough here, which is a pity, but I do want to emphasize the promise this new discovery carries. For a long time, scientists have been warning us that microbes are evolving resistance to existing antibiotics. Unnecessary use of antibiotics, in humans and animals, speeds up the advantage of microbes in the ongoing arms race of antibiotic resistance. This latest discovery is very good news, because it shows a new way to develop antibiotics, in addition to showing a specific new antibiotic that apparently is effective against the fearsome MRSA.

Three links (OK, four) on teaching math

I came across this NPR post today via a post on Facebook. This led me to remember this one and that one, from a recent post and an older post I made myself on FB. The last one of these three links leads to a great discussion of how becoming good at math is a path open to everyone, but it takes hard work. Older people in a position to advise / teach younger ones should be keenly aware of the last one, and help their students/children/tutees adopt a growth mindset.