Assorted links

by on November 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Dano November 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

World Climate Report? Srsly?



2 Jim O'Toole November 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm


I’ve not read the paper itself. If you have, I’d be interested in your take on it.

3 JWatts November 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Ad Hominem? Seriously?

4 Jason November 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

The big claim is that they eliminate the fat tails of the PDFs, but the PDFs are assumed Gaussian which are “thin” tailed. This paper is begging the question in the traditional sense of the phrase. If you model your data (calculate posterior PDFs via Bayesian inference) with thin tailed model, you are going to get a thin tailed result.

5 Right Wing-nut November 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

And vice-versa, no?

6 JWatts November 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

It’s hard to argue with the graph that shows the measured temperature right up against the lower 95% confidence boundary of the models. It’s possible the models are correct and the measured temperatures are incorrect, but not very likely.

7 Right Wing-nut November 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Doesn’t the floating incubator present a very tempting target for pirates & jihadists both? The insurance I would be interested in is denominated in 50 cal bullets–at least.

8 JWatts November 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm

The real threat they are protecting against are California state labor laws and Occupy Something protestors. And a ship twelve miles off the short is pretty good protection against both.

9 libarbarian November 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Only a spoiled and pampered people who take security for granted can think that state labor laws is the biggest threat around.

“When I had set sail thence the wind took me first to Ismarus, which is the city of the Cicons. There I sacked the town and put the people to the sword. We took their wives and also much booty, which we divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to complain”

10 Tim December 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

I’d be more worried about this becoming something more akin to indentured servitude or worse slavery. The lack of labor laws also means that there are no laws governing that anyone can ever LEAVE the boat.

11 Albert Nock November 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Right Wing-nut,

It would only be a target for terrorists if you think they “hate us for our freedom.”

As for pirates, I challenge you to find a report of a pirate attack off the coast of the U.S., let alone within 12 miles.

12 Yancey Ward November 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Pittsburg would agree.

13 The Anti-Gnostic November 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Lake Falcon, and its aftermath.

Personally, I’d love to see a boatful of globalists deciding to ‘incubate’ around Tijuana or Somalia, seeing how they’re always telling us we should welcome more Mexicans and Somalians to our shores.

14 libarbarian November 29, 2011 at 6:49 pm

So they’re mooching off our defense budget?

“I want to be free …. but stay close cause I might need you to protect me”

15 Dan Dostal November 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Mooching is an odd-word to use when they are attempting to bring us jobs. The way I’m reading this is it’s more an entrepreneurial incubator more than a jobs incubator. Of course, I may be optimistic as I’d love to liberalize our immigration policies.

16 Andrew' November 30, 2011 at 2:30 am

Because our government does a great job of protecting us…

17 Right Wing-nut November 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

There are multiple terrorist groups that might take interest in such a target, but let’s focus on the Muslim brand.

No, they don’t hate us for our freedom. If they did, they would have targeted the Statue of Liberty. According to at least one Al Queda video, they hate us because of the Reconquista. Our economic and military prowess are an affront to, a refutation of, even, their world view. The World Trade Center was targeted _because_ it was the World Trade Center.

Let me make a prediction. If this project goes through, it will remain even if there is a complete opening of the H1-B. There are lots of forms of regulatory arbitrage available, and once the work of actually creating this thing are accomplished, the marginal price of switching to a different regulation will be much lower.

Thumbing your nose at a noxious rule is deeply American. This enterprise is likely to be see as quintessentially American by Americans. The opportunity to strike at such a multi-billion dollar property populated by a lot of very bright minds won’t be ignored.

18 JWatts November 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

“Thumbing your nose at a noxious rule is deeply American. ”

No, not particularly. I think the French are far better at it than American’s are. They have a positive aptitude for creating lots of rules and then failing to enforce them.

19 Silas Barta November 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm

1) LOL! Ingenius! If this loophole actually works, it’s going to be funny seeing the government justify why it’s okay for these immigrants to work in San Francisco “as long as they return to their ship each night”.

20 Andrew' November 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

The USS Lonely Island

21 JWatts November 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

That assumes that the ship won’t have amenities. I don’t know what the international rules against prostitution are, but if there are any, they certainly isn’t anybody to enforce them.

It could just as easily be the HMBS Happy Ending.

22 Michael B Sullivan November 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm

They can’t technically work in San Francisco. They can do meetings and such, but they need to do actual work on the ship.

I’d love to see the ship work. I have pretty strong doubts, but it’d be awesome if it came to fruition.

23 Silas Barta November 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

That’s even worse: “I hereby call what I’m doing ‘a meeting’, rather than work. Our meeting is write computer software next to each other and occasionally chat.”

“Oh, okay, then I guess that doesn’t really undermine the US’s sovereignty or immigration policy.”

24 Michael B Sullivan November 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I guess. I’m not super-convinced that that’ll happen (in the long-shot scenario where this scheme actually gets off the ground. The water? Whatever). Going ashore is still going to be something of a pain in the ass — have to take a boat 12 miles to shore (or more — the farallon islands are going to be a problem), then pass through customs, then reverse the trip. It seems fairly likely that going ashore really would be for a fairly rare “meet the stateside people” trip, and work would mostly happen on the boat.

25 mjw149 November 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

But how long until we divide the world’s oceans among the nations via treaty? 10 years? 20 years? We’re running out of resources, and that’s a honking huge public commons left to apportion. Considering this loophole, the piracy we have and the drug and slave trades, how long until the ocean is more effectively policed and therefore divvied up? Why wouldn’t China support this to blunt the effectiveness of our Navy? Drones and cameras and communications are so cheap and effective already, it’s just a matter of time.

26 Glen Raphael November 30, 2011 at 1:35 am

Seasteaders are on the right side of a public goods problem in that changing these laws is hard because it requires agreement among lots of state actors. The status quo is likelya stable equilibrium; a single ship isn’t worth changing that for. This particular project is a long shot which might not pan out (so isn’t worth much effort to stop), but if this sort of thing eventually proves successful it will ultimately benefit people in lots of countries including the US and there will develop a constituency for grandfathering it into future rules, whatever they are. In the longer term, seasteads are more likely to part of the *solution* that leads to more effective management of the seas – some seastead will be like those tiny towns in the middle of the desert where you can stop for help if your car breaks down – a huge boon to the shipping trade as well as any sort of policing.

Not to mention: how do you make what they’re doing illegal while still allowing cruise ships? All they are is a cruise ship that happens not to move around so much. Make not-moving-around-much illegal and they could do the same thing in a cruise ship that meets whatever your must-move-around requirements are.

27 Nicoli November 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

@4 Couple of comments:

1. Including pensions in perceived competition is tricky since so many pension systems are basically insolvent. I assume most public sector employees discount their expected pension by somewhere between 30 and 100 percent.

2. I completely agree with the last paragraph.

“Rather than continue the union model of yesteryear in which unions focus on maximizing the size of the pie that members can receive, unions should understand that increasing wages for their members requires increasing productivity and reducing costs. Southwest Airlines has long been one of the most successful carriers because both labor and management are focused on achieving higher efficiency and levels of service than their competitors. Unions that can follow these principles will succeed, while unions that cannot will continue to come under fire.”

28 Silas Barta November 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Including pensions in perceived competition is tricky since so many pension systems are basically insolvent. I assume most public sector employees discount their expected pension by somewhere between 30 and 100 percent.

They are nowhere near that smart. Look at the autoworker and municipal employee unions. “Derp derp derp … I’m gonna get a giant pension, who cares where the money will come from …”

29 dan1111 November 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Who is dumb? We are the ones paying them big bucks to drive a bus or put out cones on the highway.

30 NAME REDACTED November 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

They aren’t dumb. They know the money won’t be there, they don’t care. They have the force of government on their side to allow them to extract rents in the short term. Later they can move on to other rents so long as they keep their government cronies happy. Its a payoff scheme thats all.

31 dan1111 November 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Re #1, the comparison of compensation needs to include what is contractually promised, including pensions. There is uncertainty in many private sector pensions, also. Anyway, this is a discussion of what the employees should be paid, so the stated compensation is what matters.

Re #2, I agree but am not optimistic that public unions will take this route. Southwest Airlines is a small player in a fragmented, highly competitive industry, not all of which is unionized. Its employees rightly recognize that their jobs are at risk if they push for too much. Public employees face no such risk. Even the recent Republican reforms in a couple of states, which have been portrayed as outrageously radical, have not involved cutting jobs. And the Democrats still 100% support whatever the unions want. It is easier to simply try to get their party back in power than to reduce their demands.

32 Peter Schaeffer November 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm


“I assume most public sector employees discount their expected pension by somewhere between 30 and 100 percent. ”

0-30% is far more like it with a cluster around zero. Essentially all existing public sector employee pensions will be paid. Reforms will be limited to new workers.

Not what I favor… What I expect.

33 Andrew' November 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

1. & 3. Fuck sea levels.

34 NAME REDACTED November 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Heh, Watch it end up that the people who are least likely to believe in sea level rise are the most likely to be able to ignore it when it happens.

35 dan1111 November 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm

#1 – There is a problem: who wants to live on a boat? Some foreign workers might be willing to, but not the “best and brightest.” They want to come to the U.S. for better living conditions or career advancement, not a temporary job in bad conditions. From the foreign workers’ perspective, it is a dead end. It doesn’t open the door to living or working in the U.S. And the start-up companies won’t be willing to pay the massive premium for this service unless they can get the very best workers.

This project makes the most sense if it’s a stunt to attract attention to U.S. immigration laws.

36 Dan Dostal November 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Have you ever been on a giant boat? Cruise liner? It’s not a fishing trip, that’s for certain. Of course, I’m with you on your last sentence. But I see it being massively beneficial in the short-term as well.

37 Ignacio November 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

#1 Wouldn’t it be easier to simply build a nice resort in Mexico, a few miles from San Diego, where all these people could work and drive or fly into the US with their B1 visas as they wish?

38 doctorpat November 29, 2011 at 8:50 pm


39 anonymous November 30, 2011 at 12:29 am

First of all, this is specifically aimed at software developers. San Diego is not where you want to be: it’s more than eight hours’ drive from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, so you’d have to fly in and deal with airport hassles and delays. There is no particular advantage to being near some random point along the US border, the point is to be within reasonable commuting distance of an industry hub.

Second, the security situation in Narcolandia near the border is less than optimal. Your hypothetical resort would need to be down in Baja California Sur, which adds a couple more hours to your flight time — you might as well be in Vancouver instead. And regardless of where you are in Mexico, you run the risk of a dramatic turn for the worse: consider how Monterrey was considered a safe haven from the drug wars, until suddenly and dramatically it was not. And we haven’t even touched on the whole question of researching and complying with Mexican immigration laws and labor laws and taxes.

40 The Anti-Gnostic November 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

That’s exactly the point. The globalists want to turn the US into Mexico–let them go experience it up close and personal.

41 Rahul November 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

What about a gigantic floating hospital stocked with Cuban / Russian / Indian physicians? Root Canals for $100 anyone?

42 dan1111 November 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Actually, that just might work.

43 MattJ November 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Brilliant idea. Make it mobile, and it can even show up on the scene of a disaster and do some relief work when the need arises.

44 RM November 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Patients also get a free “cruise”! The hospitals around where I work are filled with Indian/Pakistani/Arab physicians doing four-year residencies after being fully qualified in their county. This saves this four years of relatively low wages.

45 RM November 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

*This avoids four years of relatively low wages for these physicians.

46 Wonks Anonymous November 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I believe that was Patri’s original business plan. “Medical tourism”. Now he’s focused on Honduras.

47 NAME REDACTED November 30, 2011 at 4:26 am

I hope people in his city have a lot of guns for when the Honduran government eventually wants to take the city away.

48 Foster Boondoggle November 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

#3: Why is it the default “libertarian” position to try to minimize the externality of fossil fuel consumption? I get that there are what TC has called “mood affiliations” that cause those of right-wing persuasion to want to justify high levels of continued carbon burning, but I don’t remotely see how this is qualifies as libertarian. Libertarians should be *particularly* concerned about unpriced and underestimated externalities, since they call into question the basic premise of the philosophy, namely that fully unleashed market forces can properly accommodate all such interpersonal impacts in a way that produces a morally acceptable outcome.

Perhaps TC isn’t quite as far in bed with the climate change denialists as I’m thinking, but the tone of the post suggests so. “Angry response” indeed. More like calling out flagrant misunderstandings.

49 Jeff November 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Do you read TC often? Google his posts on global warming/climate change. You’ll be surprised.

50 Silas Barta November 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

What Jeff said. And Romm is nothing if not angry, even if his conclusions and most of the reasoning is correct.

51 Pragmi November 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm

It’s Tyler’s thing to give a voice to whoever. You can’t ascertain his position from little snippets like that, you’ve got to look at his more detailed posts on the issues, and as Jeff said Tyler certainly isn’t a climate change denialist.

52 Andrew' November 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

“Why is it the default “libertarian” position to try to minimize the externality of fossil fuel consumption?”

Because to address it in ways some people suggest would kill trillions of people based on made-up numbers about what the actual negative externality is speculated to be in several decades.

53 Dredd November 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

It took experts to get us where we are.

Experts are now needed to help us imagine somewhere over the rainbow, then get us there.

Now Google “worse than previously expected”.

The Google “better than previously expected”.

Now see if there is a photo finish to the race.

54 Aaron W November 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm

On 3., here’s a more measured response from a more reliable source than ThinkProgress:

The claim that the IPCC ignored them is somewhat silly – the range of climate sensitivities used in the past included the number they estimated in this paper. Maybe they included other estimates because the number is more uncertain in a higher direction? Nah, that could never be!

55 Bryan Willman November 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

re #5 – that looks like a great idea.

Is it legal? Is legal in WA state? Who collects the sales tax? Who pays the required workman’s comp? Who carries the liability insurance?

Oh, and driving a truck for hire without a CDL is illegal if it’s about 26,000# (federal) and various other levels for state. The person who delivered the stuff to ship to burning man may or may not have been in the clear. But how many funky regulations (of which our society has waaaay too many) will these folks (or their employers) run afoul of?

It’s a great idea, but I wonder if it won’t encounter lots of opposition from various rent seekers…

56 doctorpat November 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Our hated overlords have to catch us first.

57 anonymous November 30, 2011 at 1:05 am

The way that Amazon Mechanical Turk and TaskRabbit deal with it is by washing their hands and stating that they just provide a platform, it’s up to the contracting parties to comply with all applicable laws, taxes and regulations. TaskRabbit even makes you agree to idemnify them if the IRS ever comes after them for whatever reason, including penalties and interest.

Amazon Mechanical Turk is even worse, in a way. In their jargon, a Provider performs a task that is paid for by a Requester. They give your name, address and Social Security number to the Requester — so much for privacy. The Requesters could be semi-anonymous entities anywhere across the Internet, and Amazon does not vet or screen them (or even guarantee that they will pay). You risk identity theft for a payment of (quite literally) pennies. And Requesters have the compliance burden of filling out paperwork and mailing tax slips to Providers: fine if you’re a big company with a large volume of ongoing tasks, not so great for one-time projects or person-to-person contracting.

Mechanical Turk is for the developing-world goldfarmer demographic doing drudge tasks online for a pittance, while TaskRabbit is for real-world physical presence and meetup tasks that can earn real money. But what’s to stop people from cutting out the TaskRabbit middleman and arranging private cash deals that leave no paper trail or tax liability? Also, Facebook could easily muscle into this space and undercut TaskRabbit with a price of free.

58 Bryan Willman November 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm

re #5 – part II –

Taskrabbit’s terms explicitly say that they are not an employment service and that you the buyer will be responsible for all taxes, etc.

Now, you *might* plausibly claim that such people are independent contractors, and all taxes, etc. are their issue, and since you are a retail consume you don’t issue 1099s, and so this is all on the micro-service-provider, not the buyer.

But I can easily imagine some strapped agency saying that workman’s comp, or sales tax, or whatever, have to be collected by somebody, and I can imagine (but do NOT encourage) some places (e.g. WA) to say that as a matter of law the agency (e.g. taskrabbit) is going to collect. (Just like they all want to force amazon to collect sales tax.)

Of course, this sort of service helps markets clear and employs people and gets things done, and is therefore clearly good. I’m totaly in favor of it. But I’ll bet there is regulatory trouble for it in the forseeable future.

59 anonymous November 30, 2011 at 1:14 am

And I wonder what happens if someone gets injured while performing a task for you… or what if the rabbit runs over some kid while driving on an errand for you? Who gets sued? Not the rabbit, who is almost certainly judgement proof (aka broke), otherwise they wouldn’t be doing menial tasks for hire.

Just another promising idea that will probably get litigated, regulated and great-stagnated into insignificance.

60 Slocum November 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm

@1. Even if the U.S. does allow it, I have a hard time seeing people of ‘Silicon Valley Entrepreneur’ caliber willing to live on ship. And lower level engineers? Why bother — they can do their work while living in their home countries (which, of course, they’re doing already).

61 Becky Hargrove November 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

1) For similar reasons I have turned myself inside out looking at non-monetary skills solutions. The minute skills are attached to money, every expectation of the world for social and moral justice weighs them down. Not to say that non-monetary skills solutions would not be deemed illegal as well, but it’s still worth a try.

62 Jim November 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Hey, more East Anglia emails are out these days.

If those guys don’t take global warming seriously, why on Earth do you?

63 NAME REDACTED November 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm


64 Dan Dostal November 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Who isn’t taking global warming seriously? Or were your 2 sentences supposed to be related?

65 NAME REDACTED November 30, 2011 at 8:00 am

The guys at East Anglia… from their emails.

66 econprof November 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I would not bet my 401(k) on it, but I am optimistic about the floating incubator. A large ship, just outside the reach of US law, might also offer some other things – things that are forbidden in the US, but do not generate victims – like e.g. cheap, reliable drugs and sex for sale.
So it would be likely that not the people working there would come into SF or LA, but that the executives would visit the ship and stay there for a night or so (because the US closed its border inspection at 5pm…)

67 jk November 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Interesting idea as the natural evolution of the enterprise, at least until some (secretly hypocritical) bible thumper or femi-nazi Politician assails it as a floating den of debauchery which may ironically help market it.

68 Dan Dostal November 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm

The Streisand Effect works wonders for many grey-markets’ popularity.

69 Rahul November 30, 2011 at 7:36 am

I remember someone trying the floating speakeasy idea during prohibition. The feds busted them so far as I know.

70 jk November 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm
71 jk November 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm

correction ~6kg!

72 Careless November 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

And it’s her 13th kid. There was also this “Babies more than 4kg are judged overweight at birth” which seems ridiculously stupid. I was over that at birth and underweight because I was so damned long.

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