Assorted links

by on February 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Which countries were never colonized?

2. Poverty leads to a higher quality of terrorist, and reflections from an econ major.

3. China’s currency keeps rising.

4. Henry Miller’s Writing Commandments.

5. Gelman on Murray.

Barkley Rosser February 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Neuroskeptic’s map is wrong. Korea was conquered and ruled by Japan for 40 years.

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm

“the following countries were never officially under European control.”

Marian Kechlibar February 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm

As if being an European colony was worse than being Japanese or Ottoman colony.

Never mind that those two non-European imperial powers were among the most brutal on Earth.

Ken Rhodes February 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Perhaps you saw “bad” (or “worse”) in the original post. I didn’t. It was merely a statement of fact, as it could be constructed from readily available public information by an amateur. “European colonization” is a subject that may interest many folks, even if not yourself.

TallDave February 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

You can also read this as “Wow, Europe pwns the world!”

Marian Kechlibar February 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

BTW: As a Slav, I would say that the appropriate map should be adjusted also for European nations. Which European nations were never subjugated by others?

Preciously few…

JTR February 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm

..and Japan was the first Asian country to enthusiastically endorse the European Imperialist model with open arms.

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 3:03 pm

So then why isn’t Japan coloured blue? Does US occupation count as European control?

JWatts February 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

According to the author, yes. From the very short article: “I’m including the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the USSR as “European”.”

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

So why doesn’t he just say “By white people”?

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm

And when was Turkey colonized or is he including that? But Saudi Arabia is blue so I guess he’s not? This map is totally wrong.

Jamie_NYC February 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm

He says that ‘Turkey’ (and Iran) were conquered by Alexander… Go figure.

maguro February 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Yeah, but Turkey didn’t even have any Turks when Alexander came through. Seems pretty silly.

Foobarista February 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm

…in which case “which countries were never colonized” isn’t a good description. The only country on his map that wasn’t colonized by anyone is arguably Thailand, if you define “colonization” to be something like “remotely administered by a state, kingdom, empire, etc with its primary administrative capital somewhere significantly outside the current geographical area of the state in question”.

DW February 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thai pride!

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Although during World War II they were a kind of semi-Japanese puppet state, although I suppose that wouldn’t count as actual colonization.

Ricardo February 17, 2012 at 1:19 am

The leader of Thailand throughout World War II was Pibunsongkhram who had already risen to power on his own Napoleon-style in the 1930s without any assistance from Japan. He did forge an alliance with Japan and become pro-Japanese once it became clear that neutrality was not an option but I agree that’s a long way from formal colonization.

Barkley Rosser February 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

Well, North Korea was conquered by the Soviets (Russians) and South Korea was conquered by the Americans at the end of WW II.

Andrew' February 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

2.b. Go ahead and rub it in…

Andrew' February 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I like how they end with “I’m not fully convinced.” On the other hand, they did learn how to be an economist.

Barkley Rosser February 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm

And then there are all the countries in Europe not mentioned. Last time Britain was conquered was 1066, with China having been conquered at least twice by outsiders since then, first by the Mongols, and later by the Manchus.

So Much For Subtlety February 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

For some definition of conquered. In 1688 a Dutch invasion force landed on British soil. A Dutch Army then went to London. With Dutch soldiers in the Parliament, a rump caucus then voted to accept William of Orange, a Dutch King, as King of Britain.

How is this not a conquest?

Daniel Dostal February 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm

It was a conquest of the Roman Catholic English, not of England. Also, William was Stadtholder, not King in the Netherlands. They were generally proud of that point, so I feel it’s worth making. Oddly enough, the Netherlands remains one of the few Kingdoms on the continent.

So Much For Subtlety February 17, 2012 at 4:35 am

How do you conquer a country over the objections of its King and a substantial share of the population – presumably mostly not Catholic – and only conquer the Catholic minority?

andres February 17, 2012 at 11:46 am

conquest of a european country by another european country doesn’t count here

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

#5 Based on Gelman’s preference-map which corner would most libertarians lie in? I was thinking the bottom right (i.e. economically conservative + socially liberal)

If so, it’s interesting that their closest existing neighbor is the rich-Democrat; I’d have intuitively thought a libertarian to be approximated by a moderately rich Republican.

Bernard Guerrero February 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

His map isn’t made of homogeneous groups, but rather by voters broken up by geography and wealth. (i.e. there is no “rich Democrat” point, there is a point for the average score of rich voters in Democratic-leaning states, the point is presumably made up of folks that vote both ways)

Also, the plot is rather stylized, but if we take it to be scaled correctly the nearest neighbor to the lower-right corner would appear to be “rich Battleground-state voters”.

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm

If we assign the bottom left corner to a communist (liberal + liberal) then a Rich Democrat is a nearest neighbor cross between a Commie and a Libertarian.

Bernard Guerrero February 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Well, the definition of “communist” as “extremely socially liberal” is questionable(!), I think. But for the sake of argument, let’s say it is so. Then what you say is trivial; the only axis that effectively matters is the social axis, and a “rich Democratic state voter” (not a Rich Democrat, mind) is butting up against the bottom of said axis.

Ricardo February 17, 2012 at 1:38 am

Those points represent rich people who live in blue states, not rich people who vote Democrat.

Also, saying who is “more libertarian” requires some arbitrary scheme of weighing economic versus social issues. Put differently, the ACLU (undoubtedly funded by many rich people living in blue states) comes closer to libertarian social views than most conservative or Republican-affiliated organizations out there. However, there has historically been an alliance in the U.S. between many libertarian groups and conservatives who focused on anti-Communism and rolling back the welfare state — this was a product of Cold War thinking. This creates the impression of some sort of natural affinity between libertarianism and conservatism but there is no reason to think this will always be true. Republican apparatchik Bill Kristol has called for Ron Paul to be thrown out of the Republican Party while Rick Santorum looks like he is attracting a lot of Tea Party supporters. These sorts of things show the extreme tensions that are generated by the conservative-libertarian alliance and that people like the Tea Partiers who superficially look like libertarians turn out, upon closer inspection, to be Santorum-style nanny state conservatives.

Barkley Rosser February 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Oh, and Neuroskeptic was defining this as “conquered by Europeans,” but Liberia was never conquered by Europeans. It was taken over by former slaves from the US, but they hardly count as “Europeans,” and under their rule it was an independent country, if strongly influenced by the US. Just a dumb and inaccurate map.

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

What about Nepal and Bhutan? Were they ever actually colonized?

JTR February 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Barkley,

Mongolia was also a Stalinist Puppet for most of the Twentieth Century. Considering he didn’t color in Iran or Afghanistan one wonders what ridiculous criteria he is using to get that result!

Anthony February 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Iran and Afghanistan were removed for having been part of the empire of Alexander. But definitely, Mongolia should be uncolored, and probably all of Korea.

JWatts February 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

The third line of the article says:
“I’m including the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the USSR as “European”.”

Ryan February 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm

The Econ major’s take is interesting. It reminds me of how much heterogeneity there is across undergrad econ programs. In my undergrad institution, econ was considered a very hard major. It required serious math background. The econometrics course caused a lot of kids to drop the major and study international relations or poli sci or business instead. But, my program was very grad-school oriented–it was designed to shuffle kids into graduate school, forcing us to learn things like dynamic programming and Greene’s econometrics textbook. As a result, large portions of econ majors were double majors with math, and our small department sends 15-20 kids on to PhD programs every year (including the top ones). It wasn’t until I entered a PhD program and observed undergrad coursework that I realized it actually can be made into an easy major.

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Ooooo Dynamic Programming – oh man that’s second year undergraduate CS – I don’t know HOW anyone can handle it. Good thing these economists get paid a lot from their Oh So difficult program consisting of 1st and 2nd year level math/CS material.

The Original D February 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Do you thing the average poli sci or business major can do it? I don’t. Can you paint like a second year art major?

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Can you paint like a second year art major?

Yes

geili February 17, 2012 at 3:26 am

all the skills and knowledge ever recorded in human history can be mastered by any decently competent person by the age of 14 or so. we can expect any teenager, given enough pressure and training, to reproduce any known work in the world (without copying, of course).

it only gets difficult when you begin to apply these skills to new problems.

Cliff February 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

He didn’t say it was harder than a CS degree. I mean so a CS degree and an economics degree share a course, so what?

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

So what? These people do these joke programs and get lauded as having been through a “tough course” and they get jobs and I’m left here to languish! Contrary to Tyler’s STEM obsession I should have just done a joke econ degree and breezed through life.

Nick February 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Not sure. Economics required more 4th year math than 2nd. We weren’t taught to be programmers though, just efficient enough with programming that we could handle most of the software we ran. Otherwise, it was pure research and math day in and out. We had people drop to go into Math degrees, because it was easier.

As someone mentioned above, it really is a difference between the purpose of the program. Did they want you to become a Ph,d. student or flitter out with a Bachelor’s? If they were encouraging Bachelor’s, you were taught enough to be a policy writer which means not a lot.

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm

We had people drop to go into Math degrees, because it was easier

Yeah Okay buddy whatever you say

Daniel Dostal February 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I’m spoke to some people on the subject and it seems that some econ departments are actually more hardcore about their math than the math department. Something about complex systems and all that.

Other econ departments are just liberal arts for business types.

Nick February 17, 2012 at 9:32 am

Essentially. Plus, you’re doing analysis and research for your papers. What the kid describes is having a program that was the worst of both the hard sciences and humanities but there are programs that do the rigors of both sides. It really depends on what their program is gearing you for.

CBBB February 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

I took fourth year econ courses, they weren’t really that tough. I think the VAST majority of economics undergraduate programs are easy – maybe there’s the odd one that’s more challenging. Sounds more like a program in Operations Research then a typical econ undergrad.

Nick February 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Couldn’t say if it was more like Operations Research since I never did it, but we did a lot of forecasting of endangered species and outbreaks on local food production, transportation systems & accidents, and charting trade reactions. Pretty much was a lot of game theory, complex analysis, and network analysis using various mathematical models and comparisons. My teachers each had their own consulting firm so as students, we worked as researchers for them. Their goal was to get us into some of the best graduate programs they could so they pushed us hard and substituted frivolous business classes for upper level mathematics.

CBBB February 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Game theory is rather jokey, but from what you say that’s absolutely not typical of any undergraduate program, anywhere. It does sound like OR – but even in those programs you usually get nowhere near any actual applications stuff (all theory and theorem proving). As you can see from the link, even at pretty upper-end schools like Cornell, undergraduate Econ is usually nothing more then playing around with simple models and doing problem sets. In fact most undergraduate programs don’t involve anything like you’re talking about.

Nick February 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Hrmm… I only know what my friends and brother did at the different schools we went to and most of us had similar experiences. I think it’s really an example of the type of program and their intention and not the degree itself, because the degree can be quite challenging if the right people are in charge trying to build you up with the skills to succeed.

Sean February 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Not to mention that Mongolia was pretty much a defacto Russian colony for much of the 20th century. It may have been technically independent, but when Soviet troops make up a good 2% of the people in your country, you don’t have much wiggle room.

Japan is in the same boat as Ethiopia. Briefly conquered, but never controlled as a colony. China, on the other hand was for all intents and purposes a failed state through the 19th and early 20th century controlled by European powers and then the Japanese.

Anthony February 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

A failed state is not the same as a country controlled by outsiders. Significant parts of China were controlled by Japan, and much smaller parts by various european powers, but the fact that the nominal central government didn’t actually control most of China during the late 19th century doesn’t mean that the rest was controlled by Europeans.

Daniel Dostal February 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm

A lot of it _was_ controlled by Europeans or the interests there of. And if that’s not good enough, let’s consider the millions of Indians who were not touched by British rule.

Foo February 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm

#2

The author gives me the impression of writing from the perspective of a disillusioned first-year student who hasn’t been exposed to levels higher than Mankiw’s Principles (“just high-school algebra”, “it can be gained by simply taking an introductory macroeconomics class”).

Economics is _the_ way to give informed, rational and rigorous answers to complex questions. That’s why it is so high in demand.

Liberal arts education is just about turning one question into many and then gain some intellectual satisfaction from the resulting confusion.

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

If you want rigorous answers to complex questions I’d rather recommend physics.

Foo February 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm

In terms of methodology, the border between economics and physics becomes quite blurred as you move towards more advanced levels. Physics degrees are in fact often preferred to economics degrees as the prerequisite for a graduate programme in economics.

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm

It’s crucial to note though that an economics degree is absolutely useless as a prerequisite for a graduate program in physics.

Daniel Dostal February 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Is it crucial?

David February 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm

…or biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physical chemistry, materials science, applied physics, mathematics, statistics, applied mathematics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, structural engineering, computer science, …

David February 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

My preceding comment was posted out of sequence – it is a follow-on to Rahul’s first comment, ending “I’d rather recommend physics”

Ken Rhodes February 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

David, I think your comment works equally well as a reply to either Rahul’s first *or* third.

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

The difference is, except for the engineering disciplines, those fields lead to unemployment where as these moronic employers hire econ majors.

To February 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Economics is _the_ way to give informed, rational and rigorous-sounding answers to complex questions.

FTFY.

zbicyclist February 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Economics is _the_ way to give rigorous-sounding answers to complex questions.

“To every complex question there is a simple answer … and it’s wrong.”

Ricardo February 17, 2012 at 1:53 am

“Economics is _the_ way to give informed, rational and rigorous answers to complex questions. That’s why it is so high in demand.”

It is not “_the_ way” to give answers because there is no single framework that can provide consistent and accurate answers to complex questions. Even a question as straightforward as “Why did the Industrial Revolution begin in England?” turns out to be answered very differently by different economists. Two highly respected economists — Greg Clark and Deirdre McCloskey — have very different answers but both would say neoclassical economics simply fails to provide the complete set of tools to answer the question. McCloskey focuses on religion and social and moral values while Clark (perhaps esoterically, I read only the draft of his “Farewell to Alms”) thinks IQ and impulse control play more of a role.

Ted Craig February 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

2. I know nothing about Cornell’s econ dept., but this sounds like the major at the liberal arts college which I attended. At that school, econ was really just a business major, not a social science major.

Rahul February 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

#2 Why are suicide terrorists so rarely older persons? (The mean age of Palestinian terrorists was 21)

Shouldn’t it be easier to convince an older person blow himself up? Shouldn’t there be more life events that make an older, or at least middle aged, person more bitter about an enemy?

JWatts February 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Hormones. Just look at how your average 21 year old male drives.

JC February 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

There is an argument that suicide attacks are prevalent in cultures where young male economic and sexual opportunity is limited.

For an American equivalency, consider the difference in mean age of perpetrators of violent crimes versus property crimes. Violent crimes skew older, toward the 18-22 range.

My guess is that a 21 year old male is an ideal target to approach for a suicide bombing. He’s at the point in his life when a lot of the negative forces of adulthood are kicking in hard. There’s probably a bit of a breathing period in the late teens when the “you’re young, things will get better” argument holds some weight. But, by the early 20s, the shape of your adult life starts to look pretty set. And if you’re unemployed and unwed in country with little prospects for you . . . well, suddenly blowing yourself up starts to make a bit more sense.

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I could see myself becoming a suicide bomber

Cliff February 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Take out the economists! All they do is carry water for the rich!

CBBB February 16, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Yeah maybe – better watch out at the next American Economics Association conference. Although if Paul Krugman’s there I won’t do it so you better keep that guy around.

Marian Kechlibar February 17, 2012 at 4:24 am

I could see the TSA giving you undue attention on your next trip to Uncle Sam’s territory. These folks have no sense of humor.

Rahul February 17, 2012 at 9:20 am

Yeah; let’s detain at all Tee’s saying “CBBB”.

chuck martel February 17, 2012 at 9:40 am

That would be a gratifying sight.

Becky Hargrove February 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

2b – Besides the aversion to more debt, I am reminded why I took on the study of economics informally, hoping to unearth some fascinating mysteries of life along the way. Everything that looked really interesting in the university offerings was at the graduate level. By the time math requirements were met, one could only sample the fun stuff.

Norman Pfyster February 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Henry Miller’s writing commandments are not internally consistent (some of them completely contradict others). I’m guessing it was deliberate, and I’ve tried giving it the subtle reading, but I’m coming up blank on the overall meaning.

Laserlight February 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

You may do better with Heinlein’s rules. The short form is:
1. write something
2. finish it
3. send it to market
4. write something else.

John John February 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I disagree. There’s nothing contradictory. The bit about the “Program” is maybe the most confusing but he says stick to it, and return to it the next day if you’ve failed to stick to it and wandered to something else. About seeing people, he says write first but be sure to enjoy life. Nothing contradictory.

TallDave February 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Yet.

JC February 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

The Nueroskeptic article about unconquered countries was a total turd.

One of the reasons I read MR is that the links are usually high quality stuff vetted for professionalism. That was . . . ugh. It read like something a precocious eighth grader with an interest in geopolitics might write.

Choon February 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Some links are provided to stimulate your critical thinking skills.

Daniel Dostal February 17, 2012 at 12:49 am

I think JC and I could have used a bit more warning for the level we were entering. As JC stated, this is something I investigated around my 8th grade year, and it hit my 8th grade mind just as it had left off over a decade ago. It wasn’t pleasant.

dearieme February 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm

In southern China, the Y chromosome DNA is pretty much identical to that in northern China. But the mitochondrial DNA is pretty different. A reasonable guess at an explanation is that northerners invaded the south, slaughtered the men, and bedded the women. Whether that counts as colonisation I couldn’t say, but since it wasn’t done by Europeans it obviously wasn’t evil.

So Much For Subtlety February 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I would like to see evidence of that. Got a link?

Cliff February 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

If by Northerners, you mean Mongols, well, yes.

Ricardo February 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I’m not a biologist, but any claim along these lines has to control for the fact that mitochondrial DNA apparently mutates at a faster rate than nuclear DNA

Willitts February 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

1. Now now, let’s not bicker and argue about who colonized who, this is supposed to be a happy occasion!

Alvin February 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Turks were never anyone’s bitch. That map is wrong.

Daniel Dostal February 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

They would have been if the rest of the Europe hadn’t thought keeping ol’ Otty around a good idea. Russia would have loved to take as much Black Sea as possible. Controlling Constantinople? They did claim to be the 3rd Rome.

Steko February 17, 2012 at 3:12 am

I understand the link is limited to Euro colonialism but you’re making a blanket statement that could not be more ironic considering Turkish sultans were used as Mongolian furniture (Ottomans used as ottomans, you gotta hand it to Timur* — the man had a sense of humor).

* Who was technically a bit of a Turk himself. Whether Tatar conquest might qualify as “European” here is also an interesting question.

Careless February 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

The parts of turkey that were in the Roman empire would qualify, for a start.

andres February 17, 2012 at 11:35 am

During Soviet times, Mongolia was virtually a Russian colony

Rich Berger February 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm

5. Live by the Frum, die by the Frum.

freethinker February 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

How come the great majority of suicide bombers belong to a particular faith? Can religious doctrine also produce devoted terrorists?

farmer February 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

…yuo mean tamil?

doctorpat February 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Shinto

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