#commentoftheday Feed

Comment of the Day: Howard https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/the-policy-debate-europe-needs-by-barry-eichengreen-project-syndicate.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4af592b200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4af592b200c: 'Honest to goodness, did none of these moronic European policy makers ever study the rise of fascism in Germany? Did they not notice that it wasn't inflation, it was austerity that paved the way? wWat could possibly justify this stubborn stupidity?...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Kaleberg: Feminism https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/feminism-1.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd48d2200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd48d2200b: 'I think your tone is good enough, but I think that a lot more was going on than simply rising productivity. (1) Women do better in monetized societies, that is, in places where there is an objective measure of value that can translate into social status. (2) Women do better in urbanized societies, that is, in places with a variety of trades and where one is forced to accept one's interdependence. (3)Women do better in demilitarized societies, that is, in places where the use of armed force is a less important component of citizenship. These all overlap. The Enlightenment ideas of the early 18th century encouraged thinking in terms of objective measures of value being more important than ancestry, recognizing that no man is an island unto himself and the increasing professionalization of armed forces...

Continue reading "" »


Nilso: Tax Frenzies and How to Hose Them Dow https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/john-scalzi-2010-_tax-frenzies-and-how-to-hose-them-down_-i-really-dont-know-what-you-do-about-the-taxes-are.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd42e6200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4fd42e6200b: 'I live in Jackson County, Oregon, home to Ashland (and Phoenix, Talent and Medford). We have taxes. Nearby Josephine County (home of Cave Junction) has not, until recently, voted for a property tax increase in so many years, that their policing had to be taken over by Oregon State Police. Needless to say, the result was meth-heads having car-chase shootouts in broad daylight, etc. Finally they realized this was a disaster and voted for enough of a property tax to get a sherriff back on the payroll. This has been an instructive case in point...

Continue reading "" »


I would simply remark that an awful lot of the written record inherited from antiquity is a weird combination of Foreign Affairs the National Enquirer, and should be read—both when it speaks about the disempowered and the empowered—with the hermeneutic of suspicion one would apply to those publications today: Comment of the Day: Philip Koop https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/mitchell-carroll-_greek-women_-phryne-with-a-modesty-one-would-not-expect-in-a-woman-of-her-class-was-very-careful.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4a741db200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4a741db200c: 'Here is something that James Davidson had to say about Phryne in his book Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens: "These megalomisthoi hetaerai are the rich and famous ones, the ones catalogued in scholarly treatises, who had plays written about them and speeches composed on their behalf, the ones whose bons mots were recorded in anecdotal collections like those of Machon and Lynceus of Samos. Thanks to Apollodorus’ speech and a comedy of Timocles named after her, Neaera herself could claim a place on this exalted list along with Laïs the younger, Laïs the elder, Sinope, Mania, Gnathaena, Naïs, Thaïs and many others. Of all of these Phryne was perhaps the most renowned. Like Theodote, she allowed artists to paint her. It was she who modelled for Praxiteles, it was said, his revolutionary female nude, first of its kind, known as the Venus of Cnidus, and, for Apelles, the Birth of Venus that was reimagined so famously by Botticelli. Another statue sua ipsa persona, again modelled by Praxiteles in gilt or gold, was dedicated at Delphi and placed between Philip of Macedon and Archidamus, King of Sparta. It was a dedication, said the Cynic Crates, to Greek self-indulgence. These works of art not only immortalized the form of Phryne for posterity but spread her image throughout Greece. According to Callistratus in his work On Hetaeras, she became so rich that after the Macedonians had razed the city of Thebes to the ground she said she would pay for the city wall to be rebuilt, providing the citizens put up an inscription: ‘Alexander may have knocked it down, but Phryne the hetaera got it back up again’, one of the very few occasions when these women gave themselves the label...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ray Vinmad: Ersatz Better Angels? http://crookedtimber.org/2019/12/04/ersatz-better-angels/: 'I love this more than I can say. I’m curious about the work done by the ‘Steelwool Scrub.’ There’s a related phenomenon where people believe that they aren’t scrubbing the beliefs so much as giving their origins. The idea is that there has to be some kind of bridge between a faith-based but bigoted belief schema and a liberal universalist belief schema–assuming that the faith-based-but-bigoted is really sort of due to the historical lag religious doctrine seems to force upon orthodox religious believers. (The less orthodox tend to catch up faster.) Eventually, the hope is that the religious doctrine and egalitarian principles will meet up once the believers cross over the bridge. You could call the religious origin stories of bigoted belief ‘believer breadcrumbs.’ Genealogies have a way of lessening the grip on people over time of certain belief systems. Or perhaps people doing this also aren’t working in good faith but are doing something more like ‘Steelman Airbag’ where they are creating a soft landing for the bigoted. We’re supposed to be less angry at their bigotry because these origins are mitigating factors. A problem of course is that a lot of people leading these orthodox believers see the bigotry as an attraction rather than a liability–and that’s likely true. There are surely some people who flock to orthodox belief systems because of the free steelwool...

Continue reading "" »


Spencer claims:

Spencer: Which Political Party's Policies Boost Investment in America, Again? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/which-political-partys-policies-boost-investment-in-america-again.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4a509dd200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4a509dd200c: 'This is in nominal dollars. However, the sharp drop in the price of computing power changes the data significantly. Look at real business investment as a share of real GDP and it looks very different...

Spencer is wrong. "It" does not look very different. Yes, moving to real/real imparts a substantial upward trend to the investment share over time. But it does not change "it". It does not change the red-president/blue-president pattern:

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Impressed https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/note-to-self-one-take-on-how-we-can-learn-better-andy-matuschak-and-michael-nielsen-_how-can-we-develop-transfo.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4f1a44c200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4f1a44c200b: On Quantum Country 'Thanks for consuming a full day of my weekend reviewing matrix mathematics and learning the basics of quantum computing. I highly recommend people view http://quantum.country and if necessary, view the recommended matrix videos. I didn't realize quantum computing was this easy to understand. Computers are absolutely revolutionizing the learning process. The video series on matrix mathematics suggested at http://quantum.country is astounding in its clarity. Commenters agree—the new generation of students have unprecidented learning tools which can condence a month or more of learning into a single day. The visualizations in the video series are astounding. I wish I had these available when I originally learned this subject. The mnemonic medium mentioned is very similar to they way I learned Skinner's behaviorism. It was presented in the same kind of manner, but all within a single workbook which included the repetitive review at the proper intervals. As I previously stated years ago, it was extremely effective, and nobody in the survey class received less than a B...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Brad DeLong: "Yes, the Communist Manifesto Is Worth Reading. Why Do You Ask?" https://twitter.com/delong/status/1198452201531703296 Ashton Kemerling: "If you can’t read things you disagree with, you’ll never ever get anywhere. Besides, Marx had a pretty good critique of capitalism, even if you’re not sold by his recommendations. Dad, Capital is a really hard read though." Brad DeLong: "Which is why when I control the syllabus I assign the Manifesto; Wage Labor & Capital; the Gotha Program; (maybe) On the Jewish Question; and Value, Price, and Profit..."

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Kansas Jack on Mark Knopfler: Good On You Son https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/mark-knopfler-good-on-you-son-for-the-weekend.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4c2a9ab200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4c2a9ab200d: 'Agree with all this. Knopfler is like the tectonic plates moving. It's huge, but mostly unseen and unappreciated. Such smooth guitar and subtle lyrics. And when unsubtle...well, "Money for Nothin'" gets sanitized (even on Sirius) but the offending lyric is exactly how a lot of guys in the 80s talked, which is the whole point. Every time a radio station skips that line I tell myself, "Hey, Huckleberry Finn gets banned over a bad word too but Twain uses that word to point out the evil." Knopfler's solo album Shangri-La was welcomed with mixed reviews (Rolling Stone gave it 3.5 stars which is typically the clearest signal it is a 5-star record) but go back and listen to how easily he makes those chords, lets a few notes just hang in the air, he's a story teller. It is folk and blues and just a classic. Kick back and listen to the lyrics and his haunting guitar expertise. His take on Ray Kroc is so understated and cool, "If they're gonna drown stick a hose in their mouth," he has Ray mumbling about his buying out the McDonald brothers. I dare anyone to listen to the song about Sonny Liston and not be moved. And a juxtaposition of gangsters and coal miners with lyrics like, "There beneath a bridge comes to a giant car/A shroud of snow upon the roof. A Mark X jag-u-ar./Thought the man was fast asleep./Silent still and deep./ No. Both dead and cold./Shot through with bullet hoooooooooles." I just typed that from memory, excuses if I missed a word or two. Knopfler's music is poetry...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/gdp-b-accounting-for-the-value-of-new-and-free-goods-in-the-digital-economy.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48e6cf3200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48e6cf3200c re "GDP-B: Accounting for the Value of New and Free Goods in the Digital Economy": 'It's a very interesting question, but I will say any country that needs to rely on the unmeasured benefits of new technology to be able to say life has improved over the past generation or two for the lower income half of their population is doing something wrong...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Graydon: "'Truth' and 'facts' are different; "truth" is a statement about the inside of someone's head. (Generally one's own head.)

"facts" are that stuff independent of any particular person's imagination of the world. Facts are inherently collective.

If you've got enough money, you can blur this hopelessly because there's a bug in the wetware and anything that gets repeated enough becomes true. It helps a lot if the repeated thing is simple.

Keeping a political process facts-based is a hard problem, because you're effectively expecting people to prefer an effective process to getting what they want. That's challenging.

So there's a structural advantage on the "repeat lies" side. Any sensible framework of laws would take this into account...

Continue reading " " »


Adrian: The 1600 Military Revolution and the Islamic World https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/note-to-self-we-hear-a-lot-about-the-military-revolution-at-the-end-of-the-sixteenth-century-we-hear-about-gustaf-adolf.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4c057ab200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4c057ab200d: 'Since the turn of the millennium there has been a fast developing historical literature on this. Khan (2004) on Mughals; Agoston (2005) on Ottomans; and Streusand (2011) on both + Safavids. State of the art is the idea of a Eurasian rather than European gunpowder revolution. But there is still perhaps something different emerging in C17th century Europe. In 1500 the Ottomans are the cutting edge by 1700 they look old fashioned.

Scott P.: "Well, in 1500 the Spanish are the cutting edge by 1700 they look old-fashioned, too....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Maynard Handley https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/very-briefly-noted-2019-10-07-1-clearkimura-_how-to-convert-document-from-google-docs-to-text-file_-no-need-to.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b711d1200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b711d1200d in "How to Convert Document from Google Docs to Text File"Even more useful is that Google Docs provides access to what has been (in my experience) by far the best OCR system available. Upload a JPG (and I'm guessing probably other image formats like PDF scans, but I haven't yet tried that) to your Google Drive, and then in your browser in the Google Drive window, right/ctrl-click on the image and choose "Open in Google Docs". You'll get a document opened with the text of the image. I've found that this works not just for the easy cases, but even the tough stuff -- small low quality images, multiple columns, things like that. A little more hassle than the various OCR+scanner apps I've paid for but vastly higher quality. (Supposedly MS Live can do the same thing, but I tried getting to MS' OCR from a dozen different angles, on iOS and Mac, through the web and through OneNote, and gave it up. MS may have the greatest OCR scheme on earth, but they've hidden access to it so well it's useless to me.) (Apple have adopted a strange tactic WRT to OCR. Many things on an iOS13 system are automatically text OCR'd, like any scans or images you dump into Notes or Messages. And this text is indexed, so that the relevant scans/images appear in searches. But you can't get at the underlying text for other purposes, whether to edit it or just to read it. It's unclear if this was just not enough time to ship by iOS13, or if it's an attempt to warn other OCR vendors to find some other app category soon, so that there's less grumbling and the usual anti-competitive complaints when Apple does ship. Either way, this particular design choice means that, at least right now, I can't yet compare the quality of Apple's work to that of Google.)...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Grizzled https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/age-of-the-expert-as-policymaker-is-coming-to-an-end-financial-times.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dd9749200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dd9749200b in Age of the Expert as Policymaker Is Coming To an End: "Alas, I don't think it's usually possible for non-experts to evaluate expert judgements. The Reinhard and Rogoff example is more the exception than the rule. Consider the case of global warming. Google 'Conversion of a Global Warming Skeptic'. This is a case where is took 18 months of work, which was funded so it could be not only full time but assisted, for a Phd in physics to accumulate enough background to become convinced that the climate scientists had been right all along. This is not a level of investment available in the ordinary run of things. The practical question is how to pick experts to trust. I don't have a quick answer to that, other than to reject anyone associated with Republicans...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Dilbert Dogbert https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/raymond-chandler-1938-_the-red-wind_-there-was-a-desert-wind-blowing-that-night-it-was-one-of-those-hot-dry-santa.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48fd8d2200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48fd8d2200c in Santa Ana Winds: "Back in the mid 50's I spent time with my older brother in San Bernadino. His house was near the El Cajon Pass. I remember a night spent listening to the winds roaring down the pass. Next day I wandered around the area. Near his house was a new cheap development of houses without garages. Just car ports. Most of them were blown over. Another memory was going to a near by airport to check the condition of the small plane he built. As we drove in I notice a ball of aluminum in a tree. A plane came loose and ended up there. My bros plane suffered a broken spar. He was an aircraft mech so he fixed it....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Nils https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/raymond-chandler-1938-_the-red-wind_-there-was-a-desert-wind-blowing-that-night-it-was-one-of-those-hot-dry-santa.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dc99d2200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dc99d2200bin Santa Ana Winds: "I can reliably tell you that there was a Diablo wind on October 19 and 20, 1991, which led to the severity of the Oakland Hills fire. I was out at Mt. Tamalpais that day, and when we had hiked to the north end of the mountain near the Mountain Theater we could see a long streak of smoke trailing out to sea through the Golden Gate, at 11 am. I knew a serious fire had broken out, but of course could not tell where. I feared that my car at the East Gate parking lot was being consumed by wildfire and we were all going to die (or something like that). But when we got to East Peak and looked over the bay, about 1pm, we could see flames leaping in the Oakland Hills. I stopped worrying about me and worried about my aunt and uncle who lived in the hills above Tunnel Road (they got out OK but their house was gone, foundations calcined to a pile of sand, a few blobs of melted metal all that was left of my Grandmother's silver, although the gladiolus my aunt was planting that morning mostly survived). I take this sort of weather very seriously. PG&E is right to cut power no matter how inconvenient it is. We also, though, need more independent power, especially for critical installations like hospitals, nursing homes, schools. Off-grid living is becoming more and more a matter of survival and community resilience, less a fringe movement....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Graydon https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/richard-grabowski-2002-_east-asia-land-reform-and-economic-development_-in-trying-to-explain-the-economic-success.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dbfad3200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dbfad3200bre "It is hard for an economist using an economic perspective to understand why landlords or the landed elite would have an innate tendency to be an obstacle to long-run economic development": "Because they're in a position of power and seriously dependent on things not changing. Farms are a big lump of capital, but it's relatively static capital; you can't change your type of output on anything less than multi-year timescales, and that involves a lot of liquid capital you don't generally have. So a landed aristocracy with its income and relative social position dependent on having got their static capital just so does not want change and will do what it can to prevent such a thing. (The US does not lack for examples.) Consider the views of canal owner/operators with respect to railroads from 1840 through about 1860 in the US; the canal is an analogous type of capital...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Meno https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/eg-a-growing-problem-in-real-estate-too-many-too-big-houses-wsj.html: "Occasionally you post something like this that reminds us how foreign the USA is to some of us. Mansions, that we get. Rock stars and film moguls need to live somewhere, with their minders, crew, and hangers-on. 2,000 square foot “shacks” at the beach that stand empty most of the year-sure. Lawyers’ families gotta go somewhere on the weekend to take the boat out. It’s the McMansions that are odd. Who the heck buys a 7-bedroom 8,000 square foot house? And why? What does a couple do with all that space? It’s not the price, it’s the size...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Maurits Pino https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/eg-a-growing-problem-in-real-estate-too-many-too-big-houses-wsj.html: "Housing & life cycle needs are badly adjusted. We either need to move more or have a better functioning rental market. Small kids: Need: a garden. Get: apartment/too small house. Big kids: Need: mobility for the kids (city centre/public transport). Get: a house with a garden. Post kids: Same as previous but smaller. Time for music, cinema etc. Get: a house with a garden, half empty. Or perhaps an even bigger one. Retired: Need: A place in nature & a studio in town for culture. At least as long as living independently. Get: a house with garden. Still half empty but now a bit run down. First floor unused because of the stairs...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Yes. Exactly. Humans are way too prone to attribute human-level intelligence to whatever they are interacting with. Perhaps it has (had?) an evolutionary benefit, but it is a great obstacle to clear and correct thought:

Tracy Lightcap https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/superintelligence-the-idea-that-eats-smart-people.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48c7daf200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48c7daf200cin Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People: "I think the actual problem here is that a lot of intelligent people want to believe that computers aren't machines. They appear so … well, life-like. They can do calculations and comparisons faster then we can. That must mean that, in the long term, they'll become as intelligent as we are or even more! It stands to reason! No, it doesn't. A computer isn't all that much different from a Jacard loom. They are very sophisticated artifacts of human intelligence and they can do what we program them to do. Nothing more, though certainly nothing less. We can program them to mimic some of the trappings of intelligence if we'd like, but that's very different from saying that a machine can think. They can't, largely because they can't discern meaning in their ourput. That'll never change. Our problem isn't that computers will develop super intelligence; it's that we have such a hard time figuring out how to integrate them into our work. That is very slowly happening and we can count on some real snafus alongtheu way. That should scare us...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Nathanael: Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/speech-to-20th-congress-of-the-cpsu.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4e033e1200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4e033e1200b: "Xi's triumph over the Chinese Central Committee also heralds an era of failure, incompetence, and self destruction similar to the Stalinist era in that it is a worthless cult of the individual. China did quite well during the 'no prominent individual' period after Deng ... That is over...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ebenezer Scrooge https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/hoisted-from-teh-archives-from-2006-tightwad-hill.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4d96d9c200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4d96d9c200b in Stanford Week: "The formula for succeeding as an undergrad at an enormous state university is to pretend you're a grad student, and dive into a department full time. You're likely to get a decent mentor and adequate support, so you can ignore the bureaucratic madness. Of course, they also say that about Harvard. On a personal note, the only smart decision I made as an adolescent was to attend Brown to study physics, rather than MIT. Life was a lot easier at Brown when I realized I was not one of the people to whom physics was always "intuitively obvious." My parents were a bit disappointed, since they had heard of MIT but not Brown. But, as wise parents, they deferred to me...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Harold Carmel https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/march-of-the-peacocks-the-new-york-times.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b269b1200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b269b1200d in Paul Krugman: March of the Peacocks: "As Prof. DeLong has often pointed out, Obama's turn toward austerity in that SOTU was a very dumb policy idea. Obama's negotiating style was to split the difference with the GOP in his initial offer, assuming the Republicans were bargaining in good faith. Of course, they weren't. Obama presented himself as post-partisan and thought the Republicans would reciprocate. How did that work out? An important lesson for the current Democratic presidential race....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Phil Koop https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/quantum-supremacy.html#tpe-action-resize-355 on Quantum Supremacy in reply to Kaleberg: "Your objection is mistaken, as Scott Aaronson explains:

Q12. Even so, there are countless examples of materials and chemical reactions that are hard to classically simulate, as well as special-purpose quantum simulators (like those of Lukin’s group at Harvard). Why don’t these already count as quantum computational supremacy?

Under some people’s definitions of “quantum computational supremacy,” they do! The key difference with Google’s effort is that they have a fully programmable device—one that you can program with an arbitrary sequence of nearest-neighbor 2-qubit gates, just by sending the appropriate signals from your classical computer. In other words, it’s no longer open to the QC skeptics to sneer that, sure, there are quantum systems that are hard to simulate classically, but that’s just because nature is hard to simulate, and you don’t get to arbitrarily redefine whatever random chemical you find in the wild to be a “computer for simulating itself.” Under any sane definition, the superconducting devices that Google, IBM, and others are now building are indeed “computers.”...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Kaleberg https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/hoisted-from-teh-archives-from-2006-tightwad-hill.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b47837200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b47837200d: "There's a reason David Lodge, in his Changing Places, set up Euphoric State University to contrast against the University of Rummidge, a thinly disguised University of Birmingham. Physically quite different, they were both complex mazes of bureaucracy, idiocy and academic power plays. I mainly knew UCB computer science types, mainly graduate students. They were used to pain in the ass computers, so the institution bothered them less. Besides, they all had obvious fall backs and side gigs across the bay. The humanities types I knew there called it 'Beserkely'. Becoming a small fish in a big pond is a common problem at MIT. For just about any given task that you find at the edge of your abilities, there are going to be a good number of people who find it 'intuitively obvious'. When I went to MIT there were three physics tracks for those who hadn't placed out of the course (via AP test or prior credits). Drop date was almost two months into the term, and one could easily transfer before then. MIT admits students based on grades and enthusiasm. There is almost always a number of tasks that one finds intuitively obvious but seems nearly impossible to the rest of the class...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ebenezer Scrooge: "I've never met an absolute property right. Every damned one of them has an exception. Even a person's right to their own labor—the inalienable right guaranteed by the 13th Amendment—is subject to the draft, imprisonment, and covenants not to compete. Non-allodial rights in real estate are conditional on paying taxes and subject to takings. (While on takings, not all takings are compensated.) Copyright is subject to fair use. Property rights of use ('enjoyment', in the Hegelian trichotomy) are subject to many restrictions—consider all the things you could do with a baseball bat that would result in jail time. Property rights of exclusion or alienation I'll leave as an exercise to the reader. Etc., etc. The proper term is 'strong' property right....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: This is fun! When it comes to Santa Claus, there's one thing I know for sure. He's the last great follower of Ayn Rand. When it comes to J. R. R. Tolkien, there's one thing I know for sure. He kept it brief! When it comes to Erich von Daniken, there's one thing I know for sure. He's one of the great scholars of our time! When it comes to General Custer, there's one thing I know for sure. He's one of the Great Captains. When it comes to me, there's one thing I know for sure. I provide hours of high quality comment on this blog...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ebenezer Scrooge: "I don't see it. The various wings of the Republican Party, ever since Nixon, have always been a coalition of losers from the democratic process who realized that they can each win in their respective sphere if they just gang up with the other losers. They never have any respect for the others' spheres. The neocons always knew their allies were evil plutocrats, racists, and Talibans. The Talibans always knew their allies were godless plutocrats and Jews. (Some Talibans are racists: others are not.) The racists always knew their allies were godbags, moneybags, and big beautiful mosaic types. But each of these groups knew that they needed the others to get their own goals. And they still know it. On this backdrop, the squabbles of a few intellectuals are irrelevant...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: RW: "Cultures do not articulate authoritarianism the same everywhere; e.g., Trump/Johnsonism appears less 1984 and more Brave New World: 'What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture." —Neil Postman...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Kaleberg: "'...the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union by the end of the 1980s.' - George Kennan. 'The suggestion that any Administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.' - also George Kennan. Still, the Cold War was a wonderful piece of myth making. It was the end of history and the start of history. Novus ordo seclorum....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Doctor Jay: "I'm very much not getting what I want out of social media. I very much AM getting what I want out of internet search. The distinction is stark, and few writers bother to make it. In your Facebook stream are ads you didn't ask for and can't get rid of. They enjoy the tacit endorsement of your closest friends and family because of this placement. They aren't based on what you have "liked" and are interested in, they are based on who has paid to put them there. And all this is, as far as I can tell, completely legal. In comparison, the information Google has gleaned about you mostly shows up in banner ads that are placed in such a way that they enjoy no such endorsement, and are easily blocked or otherwise ignored. Often you get ads in response to searches, and usually the ads feature some aspect of what you were looking for. That doesn't seem intrusive to me. YouTube ads for me these days are mostly for things I'm interested in, or it's plausible that I would be interested in, except for a couple of political things that obviously think that a guy with my interests really ought to be interested in right-wing propaganda masquerading as The Truth. I wish more writers would understand and engage with this distinction. There may well be anti-trust issues with Google, but it doesn't have nearly the same corrosive effect on our social trust and credit that Facebook does...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Cosma Shalizi : "I have used Google as pretty much my only search engine since it became available, and used Gmail for all my mail since 2012. I've never shared my account (or my credit cards) with anyone else. Google should thus have a very complete idea of what I'm interested in. Here, as of late 2016 when I poked it, was its list of my inferred interests (verbatim): http://www.stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/dm/19/crs-google-interests-2016.png I can, with charity, understand 'homemaking and interior decor' (because I'd been researching new window blinds), and 'pet food and supplies' (though my cat had died more than a year before). Everything else was just flat wrong, and often mystifyingly so (I've never played shooter games, can't stand musicals, had to look up reggaeton, and have no feelings or opinions about Chevrolet one way or the other). In conclusion, superintelligence is the idea that eats smart people....

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Graydon: "You get what you reward, and the present mechanism of reward is advertising, fundamentally aligned with increasing people's insecurity so as to increase their likelihood of making a purchase to address that insecurity. Addressing the insecurity by reducing it with free information is something the advertising revenue stream is actively against. If you want this to work at a means of improving the cross-product of information and people, so that the area under the 'could make a sound decision if they wanted to do so' line on the distribution-of-access-to-knowledge graph is maximized, you need a public mechanism of reward and to align it with people's belief in the utility of the source toward reducing their insecurity. If the post office ran it, you could have a single standard blogging platform, a per-reader token distribution system, and a cash payout based on assigned tokens. But this can't be done with patronage or with advertisers, though patronage comes closer. (There's much greater diversity of patrons than diversity of advertisers.)...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "I do believe that you are suggesting that the USA should welcome people named Lee who are not related to Robert E., the gentleman traitor. By your logic the USA can be number one in 2119 if we defeat the terrible threat not from the PRC but from the GOP. You might have a point there. If you descendants of Mayflower passengers can assimilate Magyars, you can assimilate anyone...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: "Eh, if reading The Economist has taught me anything, it is that any effort to raise the living standard or wages of the British worker courts immediate disaster due to an unfavourable balance of trade. Attracting immigrants is right out. (I especially like the argument from 1949 that Israel had to curtail immigration immediately because there wasn't enough work for the newcomers due to the... wait for it... Labour shortage)...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Yes, the failure modes of making jam are pretty scary: Graydon on Homer's Odyssey and David Drake's Hammer's Slammers: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": "I think you're missing the central thing about Drake's writing. It is not so much that, yeah, these are not the best circumstances and our feels are in abeyance; that happens, that's depicted. But among that depiction you get what I think of as the essential Drake thing, which is a vehicle crew. They may not like each other much; they may not, in some senses of the word, trust one another. But they are entirely predictable to one another, and reliable. And it's that obligation of reliability that lets people get their head out of hell, whether as imperfectly as Danny Pritchard does it or as entirely as the protagonist of Redliners does. (You can see much the same flavour of reliable between Gunnar and Brennu-Njáll)...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "I disagreed with that analysis in 1980. So did Solow. The argument was gradually reducing inflation was possible, would work fine, and wouldn't cause such a severe recession. I still think that. But why are the 70s so memorable? (For us, obviously, our teens are memorable.) Krugman thinks they are remembered with horror because they were very bad for investors. Also it was part of a general ideological shift. But it is amazing how inflation around 10% (mostly a transfer which can be avoided with indexed contracts not a welfare loss) had such a huge effect on policy and academic economics and the great recession had such a small effect. I think it is very hard to reconcile this with the idea that economics is a science or that policymakers have well defined objectives and models. Also, it is clear that a bit of suffering for me and people I know has more effect than huge suffering of people of another social class. You didn't explain where the 2% target came from or why a 4% target is rejected. I don't think you can. Given the liquidity trap it makes no sense (as you and Larry Summers argued decades ago)...

Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: in reply to Robert Waldmann: "You are precisely right about the 70's (I wuz there). Even with the big 73-75 recession it was essentially a period of strong growth; a lot of jobs created as our generation flooded the labor market. A major reason for the runup in inflation, as has been fairly well-documented (by Athanasios Orphanides), was the unexpected drop in productivity growth—that led to overestimates of how much tightening of policy would reduce inflation. A key issue examined by some in that era was the real cost of the inflation. At least as I saw it careful analysis suggested little (of course, some misallocation of resources reflecting the non-indexed tax code, but that is a fairly straightforward matter to correct). I was amused a few years ago when Olivier Blanchard may have been apparently implicitly relying on that line of reasoning in suggesting higher inflation targets; I got that message back then from the long paper Stan Fischer and Franco Modigliani wrote and it could be Olivier heard it the same as I did...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Graydon: "I think it's quite possible to look at the Chinese per-city bans on combustion-powered busses and taxis, the quiet 'well, yes, us also' from Volvo about their electric platform coincidentally on the same schedule as the Mercedes-Benz platform (Volvo is owned by a Chinese car maker), the new battery tech Mercedes-Benz says they're adopting as drifting toward the Chinese banning sales of new private combustion-powered automobiles by 2022 or so. They're in pretty good shape to do that; nobody else is, and certainly the US is not. As a 'obvious economic self interest, so unfortunate about that carbon bubble O Oil-Empire Alleged Hegemon' move it's difficult to see why they wouldn't...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels: "Why do they publicly hate trans people? Because they no longer get a thrill/votes from publicly hating gay people. It may be hard to see from the inside, but here in foreignland it is very clear that once people who wear suits stopped automatically nodding their heads in agreement with politicians who relied on casting themselves as being in opposition to a despised out group of people who have homosexual relations or look like they might, they pivoted to hating trans people. It all lookws horrifically artificial from over here. They are setting out to ruin lives and drive people to suicide because they find that preferable to obtaining political success by standing for something other than standing in opposition to some hated other.

[byomtov]: "Why do they publicly hate trans people? Because they no longer get a thrill/votes from publicly hating gay people. It may be hard to see from the inside. Not hard to see at all. The need is to hate someone. Once it becomes unacceptable to hate (at least publicly) some groups-Jews, blacks, homosexuals-it becomes necessary to find a new target...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: "Nothing at all wrong with Weller, really. The truly odd point appears to be how he got nominated. It seems that Trump was pleased that Jim Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, voted to cut the funds rate at the last meeting, and offered Jim the slot. Bullard turned it down (no regional president would ever be included to accept a Board post other than Chair or Vice Chair; no more real power, combined with less pay and no staff) and suggested Weller. That's not the usual way these things get done. The only 'hasty' Board nomination I can recall was Paul Volcker being named chair in the immediate wake of Bill Miller becoming Treasury Secretary. But in 1979 there was a clear need to have that slot filled as quickly as possible by a person of Volcker's (dare I say...) stature (groan). Update: Whoops—it slipped my mind that Martin replacing McCabe in 1951 was rushed. But the circumstances were also pretty extraordinary, even more so than 1979: the FOMC had pretty openly defied the President in the middle of a major shooting war. McCable (and Eccles) had to go as part of the Accord. Truman thought he got his guy in at the Fed, but learned otherwise...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels: "If you record a bitch's new born puppy and then play that sound on a tape deck or other audio device the bitch will pick up that device and treat it like a pup. Dogs have about 2 billion plus neurons but this shows they are still very stupid. But no one seems to have a problem with this epic level of idiocy in our closest animal companions, but as soon as a program identifies a tape player as a puppy people can't wait to mock it for being so stoopid And they're right. It is stoopid. But they always seem to overlook the fact we're pretty stoopid ourselves. Take, for example, pornography. Humans can be fooled by glowing phosphors into sexual activity that has pretty much zero chance of creating descendants.

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: D. C. Sessions: "One of those 'small city research universities' is New Mexico Tech (nmt.edu), which is in a town (Socorro) of 10,000. In addition to the usual research and educational activities, NMT manages the Very Large Array radiotelescope array, the 2.4 meter fast object tracking Magdalena Ridge Optical Observatory, the Langmuir Lightning Laboratory, and the new Magdalena Ridge Optical Interferometric telescope array. I probably forgot a few. Despite this, low cost of living, and a congenial climate, Socorro is losing ground. Before trying to copy NMT across the USA, it would be wise to understand why the formula isn't working here.

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Graydon: "Intelligence is emergent. We know with some confidence that you can get it more than one way -- the way you think, and the way a parrot thinks are not the same -- and that you can get it with way fewer neurons than we use (that parrot again, or corvids) but we don't know what it emerges from or how. Which is where all the neuron complexity arguments die in a pit. I think it's more useful to think about something like Deep Mind as an artificial reflex than as artificial intelligence; a certain narrow range of stimuli produces a quick response. The emergent stuff is just not there at all.

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: "'Cerdic' appears to be a Brittonic name, 'Ceretic', or, in reconstructed British, Caraticos, tolerably close to 'Caratacus', a heroic leader of British resistance against the Roman invader, who appears in the Latin historians, Tacitus and Dio Cassius. It seems to be a minority argument that 'Cerdic' is 'Caratacus'. Tracing royal ancestry back to Woden is an Anglo-Saxon affectation, we all agree. (In spite of a strong argument that it is actually everyone else copying Bede, and Bede trying to patch up an acceptable genealogy for the post-Osred Bernician kings, who could no longer trace their ancestry back to Ealdfrith, and had to resort to the much less satisfactory, legendary figure of Ida.) But the House of Wessex claiming an ancient British hero as apex ancestor? That's whack...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Kaleberg: "It depends on what you mean by a 'robot'. Do you count remote wellhead monitoring systems? That eliminates drill monitoring jobs. Do you count synthetic oils and computerized internal combustion engine control letting lubrication oil last longer? That eliminates automobile maintenance jobs. Let's not even talk about the revolution in steel making over the last 30 years that has eliminated tens of thousands of dirty, dangerous jobs. There is a long list like this. Uber and Lyft eliminate dispatcher's jobs. Reservation web sites eliminate receptionist and scheduling jobs...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: HankP: "Under Bush we had the imposition of torture as policy, now trump has added concentration camps. Republicans applauded loudly in both cases. Everyone knows where this is headed if we don't stop it...

Continue reading "" »