Assorted links

by on June 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Haitian garbage can, via Michael Clemens.

2. Elizabeth Anderson on libertarianism and freedom by contract.

3. There is no great stagnation.

4. What happens if you keep on playing Civilization II for ten years? (hint: it is not a real rate of return on equity of seven percent or more).

5. There will be lots of migration out of Africa.

Alex Godofsky June 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

That Civ player needs to build the spaceship already and get off that godforsaken rock.

IVV June 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

He already did. This is the story of those who stayed behind.

Brett June 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I totally need to try something like this with an Alpha Centauri game. I figure I’ll get to about year 2700 before the giant mindworm boils kill everything.

Brett June 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Or at least I’ll try. I can’t remember if SMAC lets you play past 2500 at all, even after a victory condition. I usually win before then.

Ed June 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I suspect that this is made up (and i usually play Civ 4, which is much softer) because its an awesome recounting of what things are like in our future. I like the suggestion of adopting religious fundamentalism (after experimenting with communism) because its the most humane approach. Also not trying to win, just trying to stalemate and sending terrorist/ spies to nuke the enemy cities so you gain some time to rebuild your own.

Right Wing-nut June 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

Sorry, SMAC stops you cold after enough years. That should be easy enough to hack, however.

There are reasons to suspect that SMAC is unlikely to end like this. The AI does a really poor job of managing its air force, which means it ends up losing a LOT of resources that way. There are a number of technologies/secret projects that are likely to provide a near-unbeatable advantage to whomever grabs them first (and getting one leads to getting the next), so the likelihood of total domination seems quite high.

Frank June 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I don’t know how sophisticated these games have become in recent years, but the game-theoretic interactions can provide non-trivial socio-economic insights. Naturally, Civ II is too constrained and idealized to serve as a valuable model.

Eve Online is more interesting, in this respect.

“Money matters in Eve Online game”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8545268.stm

http://marginalrevolution.com/?s=%22Eve+Online%22

Frank June 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Grain of salt, all around though. I had a colleague who took his analysis of these online worlds a bridge too far.

AC June 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm
ShardPhoenix June 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Very interesting interview. Eve has a lost of neat political and military drama.

Bob Knaus June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Is the Haitian garbage can art? Or perhaps a protest piece mocking the recycling efforts of do-gooders?

It is certainly not durable, functional, or cost effective. The re-bar and wire mesh are worth more than a conventional plastice garbage can.

JasonL June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

It’s 2012. Why bother building a manual toothbrush with the fountain feature? That’s like innovating an ergonomic keyboard for a C64. Yeah, you can reach L Shift O easier than ever before, but you just have the wrong tool.

TallDave June 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I saw the Civ II thing this morning, pretty cool, the funniest part was everyone telling him to abandon communism and go theocratic.

Personally I liked GalCiv 2 the best of all the Civ-type games, it was great fun to win by techwhoring on Suicidal difficult with the largest map. I developed several repetitive muscle stress disorders though (“just… one… more.. move…”).

I was planning to get the latest Civ, but the reviews on Amazon were so negative I decided not to.

TallDave June 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm

BTW you can download that saved game here.

http://www.reddit.com/r/theeternalwar

Careful though, your computer needs to have at least 16MB of RAM to use heralds.

MD June 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I mostly like Civ V. A lot of people don’t because it took away things like religion and spies, but Civ IV was so bad at religion and spies I was happy to see them go. Civ V is also much better with cities’ cultural boundaries. It’s most significant problem, and it is significant, is that the AI is fantastically stupid.

Tom UK June 14, 2012 at 4:29 am

Religion and spies are coming in the expansion “Gods and Kings” which will be released soon. The AI is also supposed to have been rebuilt to be more effective for the expansion, but that’s a promise Firaxis have made quite a few times in the past and they have yet to really deliver.

ChacoKevy June 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I liked the most recent Civ, but I acknowledge I’m in the minority. I thought they did a good job of “compressing” the game so that you can still have all the original movements: exploration, research, and conquest, but still be able to accomplish a single game in one sitting.
I’d recommend picking it up next time Steam has it on sale.

JWatts June 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Chalk me up as someone else that liked Civ 5. I very much enjoyed the hex tiles with one unit per tile and ranged units. Unfortunately the AI is very bad at combat using the hex grid.

Brett June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I wish the game wasn’t such a straitjacket when it came to certain victory conditions, though. For the cultural victory, you pretty much have to sit in a single city the whole game.

Rowz June 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I don’t believe the Civ-playing redditor. There’s no way he could play for so many years without figuring out how to defeat AI players with equivalent forces; the AI in Civ2 was particularly strategically limited.

Furthermore, this is a particularly useless economic exercise because the lack of growth is baked into the model. Technological progress ceases in the near-future and the global warming devastation exceeds anyone’s predictions. It would be more convincing if stagnation arose endogenously from a game with reasonable modelling assumptions.

Rahul June 14, 2012 at 8:27 am

I think it’s a hoax too.

mark June 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Here is a link for your reflection (or amusement). In another example of the crushing burden of austerity across Europe, Spain will no longer install pools and plasma TVs in its jails.

http://www.larazon.es/noticia/9767-las-carceles-espanolas-dejaran-de-tener-piscina-y-televisores-de-plasma

TallDave June 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm

There is a special place in hell for those Germans.

Dave June 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm

#2 Besides starting off with an odd comparison between freedom of religion (which does have externalities) and freedom of movement on public roads (does freedom of movement require public roads?), Anderson totally misses the boat on the idea of competition–i.e., if I don’t like how a company is governed, I can leave that company and work for another*. That same option is much harder to exercise when it comes to the public government you live under.

“I’m arguing that the case for workplace democracy and other democratic constraints on employers is the same as the case for democracy anywhere: it’s better for securing the freedom and personal independence of the governed than the authoritarian alternative.”

Anderson places much more faith in democracy than I would. We use democratic governance for the state because it is the best option available absent the existence of competitive state government. But even that’s not enough to secure rights, which is why we have supermajority rules to protect the most basic ones.

I’m not saying that more democracy in a work place is inherently a bad thing. It could be great for certain companies. It might be awful in others. But it’s utility is going to vary.

Also, she should read the article by the journalist who purposely got a job at Wal-Mart and discovered that it was much more decentralized and run from the bottom up than he had anticipated (for example, newly hired staff at the bottom of the corporate totem pole can make pitches for sale prices and other specials.)

*I realize that the ability to exercise this option will depend on one’s skill level. Those with low skills will have less bargaining power.

Andrew' June 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Democracy is what it is, and what it is is 50%+1 vote. I wish we’d start from that end, what decisions make sense to be decided by 50%+1 vote? First, I can think of almost none. So it becomes what decisions are we in such a hurry that we have to use such a blunt instrument. Again, very few.

MD June 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I have been suggesting for years that I be made philosopher king, largely based on my superior SAT score, as that seems more rational than 50%+1 of the riff raff, but have yet to be taken up on my offer.

Andrew' June 14, 2012 at 9:32 am

You absolutely have my vote. To be philosopher king of YOUR property.

You get me?

msgkings June 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Yes we get you. In the libertarian utopia all people live far apart from each other on self sufficient farms and meet up to trade the sticks and rocks they use to defend their homesteads. It’s so doable!

rationalist June 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

The guy playing it (lycerius) just isn’t that good.

He played for a thousand turns without realizing that howitzers have a higher offensive strength than tanks. (14 vs 10). I am no civ II genius, but I quickly worked that one out. And he still had universities in his cities, even though there was no more technology to discover and they were costing him money.

MD June 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I remember playing Civ II and having my tank attack a phalanx and die. Still bitter.

Joe in Morgantown June 14, 2012 at 12:22 am

Ah, many people gripe about the tanks vs phalanx thing.

Strange as it may seem, in 1935 Italian tanks lost a battle to Ethiopians armed with spears. They killed the crews by sticking the spears through the sighting slots.

MD June 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

And people make fun of the French army.

Frank Youell June 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Here is what the article actually says about migration out of Africa…

“Or it could fail to happen because, as the sub-Saharan African population explodes, it leaves Africa. But for emigration to make any real difference in avoiding a catastrophe in Africa, it will have to happen on a scale that utterly transforms the recipient societies. Americans periodically get exercised by immigration from Mexico, even though this country has a long and successful history of assimilating immigrants. Europeans, with much less experience of immigration, have experienced a great deal of anxiety, which the major political parties have attempted to suppress without only modest success, about a mostly Middle Eastern and North African Muslim immigrant population that is minuscule relative to the size of the coming sub-Saharan African tidal wave. There is essentially no history of large-scale immigration into China. These regions of the world are projected to total fewer than 2.4 billion people in 2060. About the same population – put together – as sub-Saharan Africa. To absorb a meaningful portion of the African overflow, Europe, North America, and East Asia would have to become substantially African.”

Peter A June 14, 2012 at 1:24 am

In other words migration out of Africa is going to overwhelm and destroy civilization in the rest of the world.

IVV June 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

4. Civ II aside, I like the dig. It reminds me of the many financial advisors who try to sell me their products.

FA: And as you can see, invest in our products, and with a 7% return on equity, you’ll be a millionaire in no time.
Me: But the long-term return on equity is closer to 2-3%. What happens in that scenario?
FA: Er, here’s my card. Call me if you have any interest. Thanks for your time.

JWatts June 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

“Me: But the long-term return on equity is closer to 2-3%.”

I was under the impression that the long-term return on large stock equity was around 10%. Granted, once you consider inflation it’s really 7%. But still much more than 2-3%.

http://www.investorhome.com/history.htm

Max June 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Stock market returns can only grow faster than world GDP for so long. Eventually they have to come down.

anonymous June 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Not if there is net disinvestment.

TallDave June 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I remember being surprised to be informed in college that more shares had been bought back than had been issued over the past couple decades (or something like that), though you may be referring to something else.

JWatts June 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm

“Stock market returns can only grow faster than world GDP for so long. Eventually they have to come down.”

There are a few things wrong with this statement.
1st: Yes they can because some investments will return less than stocks, ie money markets, bonds, notes, etc. so while the average return of investments might be constrained by GDP growth, stocks could well be above average permanently, while bonds, etc return below average returns.

2nd: By the time that that’s really a constraint it’s quite possible that the stock market will include returns from investments outside of the world.

3rd: Stocks are generally by region and it would be expected that not all regions would grow at the same rate, so stocks from regions with above average growth may well return above world average growth.

IVV June 14, 2012 at 9:16 am

I started investing in the late 90s. Returns between then and now have only begun to look positive.

msgkings June 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Yep. We’re in one of those periods (2000-2012) where US stock returns are flat to negative for a long time. Just like 1966-1982 and 1929-1954. After those periods end you get raging bull markets. Hang in there. Dividends matter. Other countries matter.

jorod June 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Haiti: Necessity is the mother of invention.

jorod June 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I would like to see more migration out of Haiti and less handouts.

The Anti-Gnostic June 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

I would like to see more migration out of Haiti into the neighborhoods of policy-makers.

msgkings June 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Sorry, A-G, we’re sending them all to your place to date your daughters.

Matt June 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I would like to see more migration out of DC into Haiti.

Mass June 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

The Africa issue is terrifying. It sounds like the world has moved away from violence to a breeding war. I’d like to hear more analysis of this issue.

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