Assorted links

by on December 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Should Mo Yan be more political?

2. Chinese woman writes with both hands simultaneously in different languages.

3. Hollywood is making a movie about brain uploads, to star Johnny Depp, and here are many predictions about the future.

4. Will we end up free and wealthy but lonely?

5. Ravi Shankar on the hippies.

MC December 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

James Garfield could write in both Latin and Greek at the same time:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multilingual_Presidents_of_the_United_States#James_A._Garfield

msgkings December 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

He’s a witch! He must be killed!

MaxUtil December 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I think roughly 75% of the articles about Ravi Shankar I’ve seen since his death focus on how he supposedly disliked hippies. It’s nice that we can use this moment to engage in a little gratuitous hippie punching rather than remembering his music or influence on our arts and culture. Well done.

Bernard Guerrero December 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hippie punching is always warranted.

Norman Pfyster December 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

+1

mofo December 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I concur, hippie bashing is always welcome.

dan1111 December 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

To make a slightly more serious point, Shankar’s fame in the West was largely tied to the 60′s counterculture movement. So it isn’t surprising that reflections on his death in this context focus on that movement and his relationship with it.

Rahul December 14, 2012 at 4:08 am

There’s a lot of truth in that. Also got to ride on the early orientalist and Indophilism movements. He was good, no doubt; yet I always thought he was overhyped.

msgkings December 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm

#3: Sounds silly but then most movies do, even the good ones

#4: First world problems

Ashok Rao December 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Not really first world problems. You can see the same trend in middle-class India (which, I suppose, is a world apart from the rest of India) – where relatively educated youth who are very rich by Indian standards (but still poor by American ones, IT professionals etc.) are deferring traditional milestones in quest for a better career.

This wasn’t a problem 20-30 years ago as much as it is today. It reflects a cultural shift as much as it does an economic one.

Fred December 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

3. Are that predictions from Ray Kurzweil? In that case these predictions will probably never take place.

Asher December 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

It seems to me that it makes the most sense for women to have children when they are in their early twenties. They can then start a career when they are in their late twenties when the kids are in grade school. No need for a Mommy track, by the time these ladies are climbing the corporate ladder their kids will be teenagers or grown. Furthermore, employers will be reassured that this lady is unlikely to interrupt her career.

All that is purely from a career planning standpoint. But of course when you add in the physiological advantages of giving birth younger + more vigor at that age for taking care of young kids + ability for you and your parents to enjoy grandchildren etc. the benefit of this approach increases greatly.

Jim K December 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I can’t imagine getting into graduate school would be very easy when you’ve spent five-plus years out of school, and have no one to write letters of recommendation. Nor would having a stable marriage when you had children fresh out of college.

Cliff December 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I don’t know about this. If you’re paying they probably don’t care. If you’re trying to get paid like an MS in Eng. or something then I can see that. Also my wife had children 2 years out of college and our marriage is pretty stable. Of course we’re “high-income” so we can work and have kids too, which doesn’t seem to help other high-income people have babies, however.

John Mansfield December 14, 2012 at 7:28 am

It’s too bad you can’t imagine a couple fresh out of college with little children having a stable marriage. Where I went to school, it was pretty common.

Claudia December 14, 2012 at 7:40 am

Used to be common too: a couple fresh out of high school with little children having a stable marriage. Times change.

Engineer December 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm

It’s too bad you can’t imagine a couple fresh out of college with little children having a stable marriage. Where I went to school, it was pretty common.

Where I live it’s not uncommon at all. Sometimes there are parents helping financially. Other times they are living in exurbs and clipping coupons. Basically it’s a matter of priorities.

IVV December 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

You know, there’s something more to be said for not just having your kids young, but having your grandparents raise them when they’re small while you go off and have your career. But that’s a sea change in attitudes…

Finch December 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm

It also requires you live near your grandparents and have a high ratio of grandparents to grandchildren, which is only possible at small family sizes.

But it’s surprising to me more people don’t do it. It’s common in some cultures.

DW December 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

It is difficult to afford kids if you have them before your career.

Claudia December 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Well, Asher if your advice is clearly career and life-enhancing why isn’t everyone doing it? Are you? See I had the chance and I passed. I was married at 24 (a ‘statistical anomaly’ was how my first boss referred to me), but I waited until 30 to have my first child. I/We made a choice that balanced my desired career path (and family finances) and our family-life goals. Sure, I needed more education than most given my career path, but even there I was offered an early out of grad school…not all economists have PhDs. And other sensible people would have and have chosen differently than I did. But still my question for you is: if your advice is so optimal, then why has it become less standard?

Interestingly that was one of my reactions to the op-ed too. I tried with all my might to quiet my inner economist and just read the nice flowing prose, but I could not. I happen to like emotionally charged writing, but this piece went too far even for me. My economist gripes can be summarized as: 1) what is the counterfactual here? 2) who said life didn’t involve tradeoffs? 3) you really think limiting choice is going increase welfare? I am a big fan of trying to solve problems, but let’s make sure we have a real problem (relative to the alternatives) to solve. 1) Counterfactual: I am not convinced that in the world with earlier child bearing, we have better life outcomes. A big reason child bearing is delayed is that people are acquiring more education. Education improves health and lengthens life spans (in quantity and quality). Children get in the way of acquiring education (even if we someday all suck it up in two minute video clips) as they require time and energy and make it hard to delay earned income. Deciding to have children early is not such an innocuous choice…may be better, may not be. 2) Tradeoffs: This is a big pet peeve of mine about modern parenting/careers…the fallacy that you can have it all. Life is full of tradeoffs and no one has it all. Women (and their families) have been given a massive amount of choice about their life and work decisions, of course that has come at a cost. When my grandmother finished working in a lab at Cold Spring Harbor in the 1940s and got married, the local Lilly’s lab in Indiana asked her if she could type as that was all women could do. She made the best of it (learned to type and teach), but I am happy that I had more choices after my research assistant job. But I have given up some things that brought her great joy, like living close to family. 3) Choices: The end of the piece is pretty awful in my opinion. Economics is not just about stuff. Individual choice, utility, happiness, etc. is the driving force. Sure people can be overwhelmed by choices and life-cycle decisions are especially hard since there is little chance for learning by doing. Nonetheless, I have a hard time believing that we would be happier throwing our family norms back by several decades. In fact, some of the families I admire most would not have been acceptable then.

axa December 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

#4: the fine sport of throwing numbers as fast as you can to confuse the audience.

Long-term studies have shown that, when people put off having children till their mid-thirties and later, they fail to reach “intended family size”—that is, they produce fewer children than they’d said they’d meant to when interviewed a decade or so earlier……. The thirty-something have the same name and genetic code than the 20-something. But people change, who keeps the same opinion for 10 years? Parents would wish 4 kids, but after taking care of two, they may get tired and change opinion. Not the end of the world.

The 35-year-old new father can hope to live to see his child turn 42. The 45-year-old one has until the child is 33………Compared to whom? Whitout context this numbers are nothing. What were the numbers 50, 20, 10 years earlier in the US? Remeber life expectancy is NOT a constant. What about other countries right now? I’m trying really hard to avoid being cynical about the fact how difficult & traumatizing is life for a 33 year old child becoming orphan.

This is the perfect example of having an idea, wish it is true and looking for data to back it up.

Dredd December 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

“5. Ravi Shankar on the hippies.”

He could have become a neoCon since he didn’t like kids or anyone else other than angry white men.

And they didn’t like him.

Like Ayn Rand, he was lost in his own imaginary space, but did not know it.

He was enrightened.

RPLong December 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Oh, I get it. “I’ll see your hippie bashing and raise you an Ayn Rand screed.”

And speaking of pinnipeds…

Roy December 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm

1. The great poison of Chinese literature is politics. It has been almost a century since the May Fourth protests declared apolitical literature immoral and yet this goes on and on. The toxicity of this to art is astounding. Sure in Hong Kong, which has an apolitical tradition, there has been some continuation of not very political art, but everywhere else everyone is so far down the rabbit hole that they can’t even see it. And literary critics are the enforcers of this. I don’t even like Mo Yan very much. Only a Chinese literature expert would consider him non political. This is al quadrupally true for western experts of Chinese lit.

Ritwik December 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

When one realises that George Harrison was probably the least talented musician Ravi Shankar kept company with, his comments become extremely easy to parse.

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

” Electric cars will roam (some) highways. Who says you can’t road-trip in a Tesla? In a few years, the 1350-mile stretch of Interstate 5 spanning Washington, Oregon, and California will be lined with fast-charging stations—each no more than 60 miles apart.”

No, that’s not going to happen with current technology. Recharge rates are currently between 15 to 20 miles per hour. So assuming your vehicle was at the high end, you would have to stop at each ‘fast-charging’ station every 60 miles for 3 hours to charge enough to reach the next one. So at best your average travel time would be 15 miles per hour.

“Who says you can’t road-trip in a Tesla?”

Anyone that can do basic math and will actually bother to pay attention to the fundamentals of the issue.

Joe December 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Tesla’s can drive 250 miles between charges, so assuming the chargin stations are all exactly 60 miles apart, you’d go 240 miles in 4 hours, then charge for 3 hours, for an average travel time of 34 mph. Still not great, but Jefferson Lines is slower.

Joe December 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Or you could drive from San Diego to San Jose, stopping once to recharge. This would take 11 hours, or average speed of 44 mph. The bus takes 9.5 hours and you wouldn’t have a car. So I’d say road tripping in a Tesla is feasible for anyone that can do basic math and will actually bother to pay attention to the fundamentals.

Roy December 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

But I have driven that in under seven in a ’75 Dodge Dart.

That is a horrible road trip, unless of course you consider hanging out outside of Bakersfield to be a good way to spend three hours of your trip.

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

“Or you could drive from San Diego to San Jose, stopping once to recharge. This would take 11 hours, or average speed of 44 mph.”

No, you got the math and/or fundamentals wrong. It takes 1 hour of charging time per 20 miles of range.

So:
Distance from from San Diego to San Jose = 460 miles
Travel 240 miles in 4 hours, Charge for 11 hours, Travel the last 220 miles in 3.5 hours, arrive with depleted batteries and start recharging

Total time 18.5 hours.

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Average speed = 25 miles per hour.

But then again, if you can afford the Tesla, you can probably afford to fly up, pay someone to transport your car up in a flatbed trailer. And then cruise around town in your environmentally superior car.

Buzzcut December 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I’ve got 4 kids, which makes me downright counter-revolutionary in certain circles.

I see what Doughat is saying in my own children. I didn’t set out to have 4 kids, and perhaps if the second had been a girl after the first being a boy, we would have stopped. But the second was a boy, 2 years younger than the first, and they quickly became the best of friends, real buddies, partners in crime, a relationship with a closeness that they don’t have with any of their friends. In fact, I have often thought that, because they are so close, they don’t even try making friends some times.

After having two boys, we of course had to try for a girl, and we were successful. As soon as I found out that we were having a girl, I knew in the back of my mind that we would be having another girl, to try to get her buddy, her partner in crime.

While #4 wasn’t exactly planned (well, not by my wife anyway, as I said I always knew in the back of my mind that we would have another), they absolutely have become best friends.

I see the same dynamics in other families. One of my buddies has 4 boys, clustered by age in pairs, and each pair are buddies.

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