Assorted links

by on May 22, 2012 at 11:55 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Credit guarantee risk in China.

2. The world’s largest swimming pool.

3. ELA and now “de-euroisation” are the words which should be attracting your attention these days.

4. How will self-driving cars reshape our cities?

5. Truly disgusting markets in everything, calling Jonathan Haidt, you are needed in Tokyo.  I still wonder if it is some kind of joke.

Saturos May 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I’m a libertarian. I’m not inclined to pass judgement on (5).

msgkings May 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Ummm, believing someone has the freedom to do something doesn’t preclude judging that thing truly disgusting.

Frank May 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm

My inclination is the same, though I don’t fault Tyler for his opinion.

Michael G Heller May 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Braised testicles are good to eat. Years ago in the first week on my first visit to Peru I ordered “huevos” at a small Cowenesque backstreet restaurant. They looked strange so I asked the waiter. I didn’t understand his reply, so he grabbed his crotch. Oh, I see I said.

Ray Lopez May 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm

But Michael G. Heller, the vaca es no manos! (cow != human). I’m sure you agree.

Food for thought (no pun intended): “Great Recession Crash of 2008″ was as ‘obvious to spot’ as “Great Depression of 1929″, so “this year’s China contraction leading to crash” is as ‘obvious to spot’ as those two events? That is, not very obvious, or obvious after the fact? Point being: Sumner may be right–this Great Recession recovery is an AG problem, the same as the Great Depression was a problem with AD, not so much a problem with a routine crash and minor recession started in 1929.

Bristol Palin May 23, 2012 at 4:47 am

I agree with Ray, there is a huge difference between eating cow and eating human: Humans can consent! Cows do not.

Andrew' May 23, 2012 at 5:06 am

I’m a libertarian and I can pass judgment:

NOT scalable.

TallDave May 24, 2012 at 11:36 am

And yet, my genetics program to create sentient, consenting cows never gets funding.

TGGP May 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I know “huevos” is slang for testicles, but I believe the literal translation is “eggs”.

Ted Craig May 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

4. Self-driving cars could lead to either higher- or lower-density cities. Higher because the drawback of fighting traffic is lessened. Lower because the drawback of a long commute is lessened. Self-driving cars could mean cars traveling 150 mph.

Frank May 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Self-driving cars would permit higher safe driving speeds, but fuel costs would constrain range despite modest gains in economy.

Thom May 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

The cars won’t need to be as heavy or powerful. People won’t care about the weight or power of their vehicles because they won’t be driving them. Efficiency will be dramatically increased, which will make higher speeds economical.

Finch May 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Presumably they’ll still care about weight since it’s the primary determinant of safety. It’s also related to volume, and therefore interior comfort. Won’t people want more space to do things in their vehicle if they aren’t concentrating on driving it?

TallDave May 24, 2012 at 11:40 am

That was my thought at first too, but otoh if collisions go way down due to self-driving maybe weight is less of a concern, and I think you will be required to be belted in regardless so I’m guessing they stay smaller.

doctorpat May 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Chauffeur driven cars are not noted for being lightweight or economical.

Doc Merlin May 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Nope!
The cars would be set to drive at the legally imposed speed limit, instead of whatever speed is reasonable.

Bobbie May 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I don’t think we’d need driverless cars if we got rid of taxi medallions.

Dan Weber May 22, 2012 at 8:25 pm

The Google Car actively breaks the law in some situations, like being aggressive at a 4-way stop in order to get its turn. I could see the speed limit go either way.

TallDave May 24, 2012 at 11:34 am

The problem in most of these cases is that the law is irrational and people are trying to rationalize it to maximize efficiency. Besides stop signs, turning right on red should not require a three-second stop when there is no traffic (which is one way red light cameras make a bunch of money off perfectly safe drivers).

There’s a T-intersection by me where people routinely run the left-turn red arrow when the light is green, because there’s no through traffic. Cops just watch them go by.

Willitts May 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

5. The interesting thing is the psychology if why this shocks the conscience. As for me, it does. It’s a link I wish I had not clicked today.

Without disposing of the ultra-libertarian premise, it is well founded in law that society may ban practices which shock the conscience. Whose conscience, you might ask. Why, the mythical reasonable person.

Even the society of our puritanical roots was quite permissive of behavior that was explicitly illegal, as long as information about it was closely held. It wasn’t the act as much as the public airing that made it criminal.

I’m reminded of a British reporter who remarked about Bill Clinton’s sex scandal that it wasn’t the affair that was scandalous but rather his indiscretion. According to the journalist, Clinton should have resigned for “making a public ass of himself.”

As for consuming genitalia, it is acceptable fare from many animals in societies not averse to organ meats. Consuming any type of human flesh as well as plants fertilised with night soil risks viral and bacterial mutation which could threaten the species. I believe that the Levitican proscriptions were well-founded in actual observations over many generations. One may easily find social differences in separate cultures, but what’s more remarkable are their similarities. When similar cultural norms develop independently, it lends credence to social evolution and optimal behavioral norms.

improbable May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

4. Many of the consequences of self-driving cars are already true in places where drivers are cheap… like India. There is no parking at stations (you take a taxi there) and very little near to shops (taxi, or have your driver wait elsewhere). Small cars (often 3-wheelers) unless you need a big one (minivans are easy to hire). Taxis are parked at night along the same roads they drive on in the day. Drivers willing to drive an inch apart, too!

These are primarily urban effects, and all push towards higher densities. The effect on suburban density seems like they would go the other way… an hour of commuting time in your own pod will be less tiring than driving, and it will be happy to drive you home drunk too, and the hassle of stopping at the mall to buy milk will be reduced if you don’t have to park at the far corner.

ChrisA May 23, 2012 at 6:30 am

I agree. I am sitting in the back of my car now coming back from work, surfing, listening to music and I have had a couple of glasses of wine. A personal driver is a great thing. There are many people in the US who could greatly improve their quality of life with a driver, but the social norms against this are very strong. It is funny that a robot driver would be considered so more acceptable, especially given all the people that could use a job right now. A very good illustration of the power of culture to prevent a Coasian solution which would be better for everyone (reference the debate on why some nations don’t seem to be able to get rich).

B.B. May 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Self-driving cars will make a difference, but they will be privately owned cars.

Give up the idea that taxis and buses will be self-driving. Without human control and supervision, they would be used as flophouses, cheap motels, hangout spots. Teenagers would use them, um, creatively. Drunks would use them as bars. Some drug users would find a driverless taxi convenient: rolling stoned.

Public drinking would increase. No one would have to worry about drunk driving, and so would indulge more in bars and restaurants.

Would Ted Kennedy have become president if there had been driverless cars in 1969?

Would the car refuse to work if seatbelts weren’t fastened? The cars would not be permitted to exceed the speed limit, although speed limits might be higher once we get rid of the “nut behind the wheel.”

If a human-driven car collides with a driverless car, whom will we hold responsible?

Should police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances be driverless?

If huge trucks were driverless, we wouldn’t have to worry about drivers falling asleep at the wheel. It is not clear that such trucks would ever need to stop, except to refuel. Makes a lot of supply chain issues simpler.

What about driverless airplanes, or boats / ships?

Combat? Driverless tanks? Driverless drones? Driverless armored vehicles? Driverless bombers?

You want disgusting? Some people would use driverless taxis/buses for toilets, drunks would vomit in them. Litter would be constant problem. Think; urban subway systems in the 1970s.

Maybe I am paranoid, but I am sure that the driveless software could be hacked, or would have government overrides. You want to go home, the car picks you up, and on the way home, the car suddenly goes somewhere else, and you have no ability to override the car. Next thing you know, the car has parked in a dark wood, and you are surrounded by big men with thick necks and sunglasses. Alternatively, a clever software bug could have a driverless car or taxi, say, drive off a cliff when a targeted individual is in the car. Or a driverless car could run over someone (a target) by design; it is a new weapon. I, Robot. We don’t have a high trust society, and many may have the same concerns I have.

For teenagers, it is different. Parents will be alarmed that their kids, who they used to have to drive places with their friends because they are too young to drive, will want to have the driverless car take them places without their parents present. The parents may sometimes consent, but the car will have a full log of where exactly it went. The parents may be able to override the instructions and bring the kids home.

improbable May 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Wow, umm… perhaps they will also let people get drunk and cruise the information superhighway?

On topic though, read about zipcar and driverless subway trains.

Urso May 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

Re pooping in taxis, it would be trivially easy to require you to swipe some sort of ID before letting you in, and there could be a camera in the taxi to catch anything untoward (in fact, I think many taxis already have cameras, for similar reasons).

RM May 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm

4. I think an equally, if not more important question, is how will driverless cars reshape suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas.

ThomasH May 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Seems like the ELA is an excellent mechaniam for ECB to keep pumping liquidity into the Eurozone. If it keeps it up, it may even avert a crisis. More likely articles like this will have blown its cover, so it will have to go back to doing too little too late.

Floccina May 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I think that people will still want to own cars even if self driving taxis are cheaper. They need a place to put their stuff. One interesting thing is that they could end drunk driving.
BTW I think that before we have fully self driving cars we will have cars that are self driving on interstate highways which could affect demand for short flights.

Tokyo_Dan May 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Man, I’m in Tokyo. Why am I always the last to know about these things (#5)?

AS May 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm
Philip May 23, 2012 at 2:43 am

You could always just swim in the ocean!

Asad Jaleel May 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Perhaps I am optimistic, but I think #5 must be a hoax. Are there really so many cannibals n Tokyo that finding six in very little time is so easy? And while I am very comfortable accepting this is a strange person, I don’t want to accept that he would actually offer up his body parts on the menu.

brone May 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm

You may be right. It’s certainly a cock and ball story.

Saturos May 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm

+1

anon May 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

#5 also suggest that there might be exceptions to the foodie advice: “Look at the menu and ask yourself: Which of these items do I least want to order? Or: Which one sounds the least appetizing? Then order that item.”

Urso May 23, 2012 at 11:23 am

bwahaha

Adrian Ratnapala May 23, 2012 at 1:12 am

1. (Actually not directly relevant). I have often read that China’s starves smaller firms by directing credit towards large state owned ones. My impression had been that this was some kind of (corrupt) policy. But according to 1. the problem seems deeper:

State-run banks are often reluctant to lend to private companies that do not have the hard assets (such as land) or implicit government backing that State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) enjoy.

So the favouritism is not a direct policy, but a market response to poor property rights and arbitrary government. In other words this economic inefficiency is baked right into the Chinese political system.

TheCrankyProfessor May 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

Was wikipedia down? The article writer for #5 doesn’t seem to understand Cybele…priests of the ancient Anatolian goddess Cybele self-castrated.

Ah, for the days of basic classic secondary education!

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