Assorted links

by on August 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. There is no great stagnation markets in everything (cardboard bicycles).

2. Admitting to academic bias.

3. Cyborg America.

4. Where is the one percent cut-off for India?

5. The culture that is Singapore, the accompanying pro-natalist music video is here.  The chipmunk remix is here.

Thor August 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Re: cardboard bikes (allegedly “too cheap to steal”). Obviously someone doesn’t grasp incentives … or markets in everything. There’s always someone willing to steal something, if only for kicks, or to see how long a cardboard bike floats. (In my city, junkies will break into a car to steal a 10 dollar CD for 2 bucks.)

A bike made of cardboard isn’t just cardboard. It will have tires, derailleurs, shifters, handlebars, pedals, etc. Do you think those are cheap? No. A bike frame is relatively cheap. For 500 dollars, you can buy a carbon fibre frame on-line from Taiwan or China (which, incidentally, is the same as a frame that costs you $3,000 with a few decals on it). It’s the extra stuff that makes a bike cost something … and therefore worth stealing, cardboard or not.

Green-Progressive thought is so frustratingly naive… “Hey, not only is this cardboard recycled, but we can stop theft by making a bike too cheap to steal!” Sheesh.

dan1111 August 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Well, “somebody” might steal anything. But there are many objects whose value is low enough that theft is not a serious problem. Bicycle thieves are not going to steal a bike that costs $60 (the price according to the article) when there are plenty of $500-or-$3000-carbon-frame-based bikes around.

That said, I am skeptical that a bike made of cardboard would be at all good. Bikes require materials with a high strength-to-weight ratio. Can a cardboard-based material really compete with steel? And a basic steel bike can be had for $80-100, so they aren’t beating it much on price. Sometimes when people tell you something is impossible, it’s because it is a bad idea.

KLO August 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Bike thieves are a peculiar breed. They will steal absolutely anything that works, regardless of its market value. A cheap seat or wheel that you could not sell for more than $5 will be gone in a day if it is secured only by a quick release lever. The value of the item is far less important than the ease with which it can be stolen and its usability. And, no, there are not plenty of $500 to $3,000 bikes around. The overwhelming majority of bikes I see locked outside are functional beaters that would not sell for more than $200 on craigslist. If these bikes are not locked properly with a decent U-lock, they are gone in 24 hours.

axa August 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Thor, your ADD is so acute that you couldn’t watch a 6 minute video. At 4:14 in the video you can appreciate that the bike is probably a “fixie” using a belt to connect pedals with the rear wheel. Fixies are reliable urban bikes. Also, at the end of the article is states “$60 tag price”, not competitive enough?

Innovation: any applied idea on production, management, design or marketing that makes the cash register sound at the day’s end. This project may be a business hit if the bike works and the customer feels good due to some esoteric belief about “being good to mother earth”. Remember also this: the only “measurable truth” is sales, the rest is metaphysics.

I’m not a green-progressive-hispter cyclist. I’am a downhiller that proudly drives a ’98 Dodge Ram diesel to mountain top and then ride my lovely german nikolai bike =)

JWatts August 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

” Also, at the end of the article is states “$60 tag price”, not competitive enough? ”

Since Walmart carries an entire line of steel bicycles for $88, I can’t imagine that $60 would be cheap enough for a cardboard bicycle to sell many units.

Thor August 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm

You are correct that the bike “is probably a fixie” — I apologize; I was assuming that there’d eventually be a geared bike.

This doesn’t detract from my point, which is that it is naive and idealistic to assume that this bike won’t be stolen regularly. Pedals, crank, hubs — these are all valuable. For the record, I don’t have ADD.

GiT August 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm

The only non-cardboard parts of the bike appear to be the tires, breaks, and pedals.

And the question isn’t whether it is worthwhile to sell certain stolen parts. It is whether it is worthwhile to steal them on the margin. It may be worthwhile to sell stolen breaks and peddles; that does not mean it is worthwhile to steal a bike from which you can only sell the breaks and peddles.

zbicyclist August 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

Thor is completely right about bike thieves.

GiT August 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Right, unlike everyone else in the world, bike thieves are completely immune to marginal changes in value.

GiT August 9, 2012 at 9:37 pm

And your thought is frustratingly stupid and obtuse.

“Too cheap to steal” is just colorful language. Try not to work yourself into a fit over a little exaggeration in a puff journalism piece.

elambend August 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I saw a cyborg this morning. He had a devise sticking out the side of his head, roughly two inches behind his ear. I think it was some sort of listening device…or perhaps he was reading my thoughts.

libert August 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm

From 2: “At the 2011 meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia polled the audience of some 1,000 in a convention center ballroom to ask how many were liberals (the vast majority of hands went up), how many were centrists or libertarians (he counted a couple dozen or so), and how many were conservatives (three hands went up). In his talk, he said that the conference reflected “a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” in a country where 40 percent of Americans are conservative and only 20 percent are liberal.”

I don’t think they understand what “statistically impossible” means.

GiT August 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Seriously. A pretty stupid line by Haidt.

Andrew' August 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

That does it. He’s a Haidt group.

JWatts August 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I suspect by that phrase he means it fell outside of the 99% confidence interval. Statistically speaking the odds of a normalized group of American’s having only 3 conservatives out of 1,000 is for all practical purposes 0.

Of course the point is that Academics are not a normalized group of American’s. They are by and large Liberal’s and the survey indicates they’ll actively seek to discriminate against Conservatives. But is anybody really surprised by the results. The only thing that surprises me is that this study ever saw the light of day.

GiT August 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm

The line isn’t ridiculous because it doesn’t use a strict definition of impossible; it’s ridiculous because there is no good reason to expect the group to be normalized, or otherwise resemble a random sample of Americans at large. 0% of fortune 500 ceo’s are below the US poverty line. A statistically impossible result!

derek August 10, 2012 at 12:24 am

So social science is neither, but rather an extension of the Democratic Party. That is what you are saying, isn’t it?

GiT August 10, 2012 at 7:38 am

Social science is neither what?

What I’m saying is that it doesn’t make sense for a sample of a subgroup of a population to be a “statistically impossible” deviation from a population from which the subgroup is not at all randomly selected.

THe assertion is that the ranks of social psych PhDs should be representative of some other population. But what population is that? It’s definitely not “the USA as a whole”.

Business is reported as being the most ideologically diverse discipline (including sciences), and they can only muster 35% conservative. (US pop is, what, ~40%?)

One might at least want to consider pipeline effects and self-selection, as one does when evaluating other diversity issues at universities (minorities, women).

JWatts August 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

“it’s ridiculous because there is no good reason to expect the group to be normalized,”

Many Academics on the Left have denied bias for decades. This is statistical proof of self-admitted bias. It’s not important that the group wasn’t normalized against Americans in general, because it’s not trying to imply anything about Americans at large.

Of course this group isn’t normalized against Academics in general. So you can’t point to it as “proof” of widespread Academic bias. However, it is decent evidence of such a bias. (I’m using “proof” in the strong evidence meaning.)

Brian Donohue August 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm

There’s nothing inherently bad about liberals here. History is replete with examples of conservatives controlling institutions and favoring other conservatives, often quite explicitly.

Of course, liberals hold themselves out to be better than this. Does anyone believe them? Is this article useful or surprising to anyone who is not a deluded liberal?

Jim Ancona August 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I just finished William Gibson’s Virtual Light from 1994, and set in a dystopian, near-future San Francisco. One of the main characters, Chevette Washington, is a bicycle messenger who rides a paper bicycle.

Martin August 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Richard Tol (needless to say that it fits his believes) also linked to the “academic bias” study at twitter, but also to Massimo Pigliucci’s opinion on it – he is not convinced:

Martin August 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I must say that I am quite surprised that the study really cites a video talk as a reference. That somehow reminds me of an editorial in “Climatic Change”, written by John Quiggin, where he cites (inter alia) a blogpost from Brad Delong as a reference that the “Stern Review” ist right with hist zero discount rate – I’m not kidding:

Well, at least it was only an editorial essay. But seriously, isn’t that extremely sloppy, to say the least?

John Quiggin August 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm

If you hear a point made in a talk by someone else, or find one in a blog post, do you feel entitled to appropriate it without citation? That’s a lot worse than “sloppy”.

It’s a different matter if you’re citing an audience show of hands as data, as appears to be the case here. But, whether this is published in a journal or not makes no difference. The Inbar-Lammers paper will soon be published – does that make citing Haidt’s show of hands OK?

I’ll leave your confusion about “zero discount rates” to one side. Sadly, it’s so widely shared that there is seems to be no point in trying to clear it up.

MJ August 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

I don’t see a problem with citing a source and I certainly do not call for being dishonest about the origins of your thoughts. My point was that you should not use such things as a reference – which is another thing than saying where an idea comes from. If I read “as A has argued” I expect something more than a video talk or a blog post: I expect evidence in the form of peer reviewed literature. If one refers to gray literature or discussions outside of academia one should say so. That clearly did not happen in the paper TC’s link talks about. In your editorial you reference to a full-blown review by Weitzman, published in an academic journal, and in the same sentence to a blogpost by Brad Delong. That’s not quite the same standard, not at all.

“The Inbar-Lammers paper will soon be published – does that make citing Haidt’s show of hands OK?” No, that was my point. You should keep such things out of academic journals from the get-go. That such things slip through and get published and probably nobody will be able to undo the paper once it’s published is no argument for being sloppy with one’s evidence.

Where did you see confusion about the “zero discount rates” in my comment? I said nothing about it, not a single word, so there.

Martin August 10, 2012 at 7:16 am

Sorry, MJ is me, it’s just my initials.

John Quiggin August 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

“Where did you see confusion about the “zero discount rates” in my comment? I said nothing about it, not a single word, so there.”

From your comment “where he cites (inter alia) a blogpost from Brad Delong as a reference that the “Stern Review” ist right with hist zero discount rate” To spell out the problem with what you’ve written, neither Stern nor I advocate a zero discount rate, but a zero rate of pure time preference which is quite different.

On the bigger point, what I think you’re missing is the distinction between citing a source for an idea (what I did with both DeLong and Weitzman) and citing a source as authority for a claim you want to make (what Inbar-Lemmers do with Haidt). In the first case, you’re obliged to cite, regardless of the source – for example, a conversation or email would be cited as “pers comm”. In the second case, you want the source to be authoritative so a peer-reviewed source is better than an unpublished one, though of course peer review is not a guarantee.

You may be confused by the fact that both kinds of citation are listed together as “references”, though they perform very different functions.

Mr. Econotarian August 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm

12.5 lahk Rs = 1,250,000 Rs = $22,645.67

Foobarista August 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm

What are income tax rates in India?

The people profiled appear to be saving or spending all their money.

RR August 10, 2012 at 1:42 am

Slabs of 10%, 20% and 30%.
I think the figures in the article may refer to Net after-tax salaries. Or may be not , since there’s some sloppiness in the article as Michael’s comment below points out.

Alexei Sadeski August 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Does anyone know the cutoff for 1% in China?

GiT August 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm
Michael Lorenz August 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm

The article on the Indian 1% claims that more people are rapidly joining the top 1%. How many percent are now in the top 1%? Are 3% now in the top 1%, or is it really that the level to be in the top 1% is rising quickly and many people now have hit the previous mark?

Matt August 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Sad that no one wants to move to Singapore, so they have to worry about the birthrate. It would be much easier to allow more (non-temporary) immigration, but I guess no one wants to go there. They surely wouldn’t just prohibit it in the face of a declining population, would they?

RR August 10, 2012 at 1:44 am

4. It is “good news” that the wealth of the top 20% is increasing as a percentage of total wealth ?? Hard to put the Ginni back into the bottle.

Amod August 10, 2012 at 4:56 am

stupid poor people, shame on them for spending only 5.7% of your income on education. obviously, they don’t realise the value of education. i bet all that money is going on travel and the latest gizmos.

dan1111 August 10, 2012 at 2:29 am

Perhaps I made too broad a statement, but what I said applies to my experience in the UK. Here, cycling and cycle theft are both extremely popular. There are lots of expensive bikes around. The theft thereof is a professionalized operation, in which the perpetrators identify the best bikes, then obtain them by using tools to defeat multiple high-end locks or break into garages. Inexpensive bikes (such as mine) are rarely targeted, even when they are much less secure.

The Wobbly Guy August 10, 2012 at 2:30 am


Huh? Plenty of people would like to move to Singapore.

As it stands, more than a third of our current population are non-citizens.

And with this huge influx of non-citizens, we have one of the highest population densities in the world, if not the highest.

A policy of low tax rates and preferential treatment of non-citizens has attracted a significant number of rich investors and businessmen, with the unfortunate side effect of driving up the gini coefficient with lead-on effects on the already entrenched elite (bankers and property developers, to name two obvious beneficiaries). Given the calcifying effects of hereditary ability upon socio-economic mobility as described by Charles Murray, this will have a detrimental effect on social cohesion.

But back to the issue of having more immigrants (permanent or temporary). Problems with integration and the inevitable question of national cohesion complicates matters. As well as the age-old test of loyalty – when the excrement collides with the ventilator unit, will the newcomers stay and be committed to their new tribe and home, or scoot back off to their native countries? The strongest litmus test we have is a mandatory military draft for males, and even permanent residents (PRs) are obligated to send their sons for the draft to serve for two years. Not surprisingly, a fair number of these PRs refuse to do so, and even perceive it differently from committed citizens. It’s no surprise, therefore, that a significant number of citizens view these PRs with a jaundiced eye.

So get them from abroad or grow them here? I don’t care, as long as we can get them committed, and willing to fight and struggle alongside their fellow countrymen. I serve NS myself, so I have said to my students who are PRs and are going to serve NS after their pre-university education: Once you serve your time, you are already my brother.

freethinker August 10, 2012 at 9:26 am

Amod: “stupid poor people, shame on them for spending only 5.7% of your income on education. obviously, they don’t realise the value of education. i bet all that money is going on travel and the latest gizmos.”
Higher education in India is much cheaper than in the U.S. But Quite a few parents spend a substantial proportion of their income to educate their children, especially in in private medical schools if their kids cannot get into state run medical schools either because they are academically too weak( there is a tough highly competitive examinations for state run educational institutes since they are better than private ones) or are victims of affirmative action .

And did you note that the article talks of a couple “and their only son” who is is studying in Pittsburgh? In India that often means “only child”. Rarely do people here refer to an “only daughter” even if she is the only child. Also the phrase often means that since they do not have a daughter their financial burden is less since they need not pay dowry when they arrange a marriage. Moreover, it may mean they will get a dowry for their son which will compensate the cost of his education. Unless the guy rebels and marries the girl she loves … cheating parents of a handsome dowry!

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