Assorted links

by on March 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Obscene titles for refereed journal articles.

2. Video about concrete tents.

3. Video about how the Japanese are demolishing one building.

4. Ryan Avent on labor force participation and structural unemployment.

5. New blog on monetary economics.

6. Do the Democrats face a demographic problem of their own?

7. A tale of status competition (and read the comments too).

8. Duflo wins $1 million Dan David Prize.

Brian Donohue March 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

#7. From the comments: “Yeah, Ackman might be a giant dick (hint: everyone in IB is a giant dick), but he’s on the right side of this trade. Herbalife is a parasite.”

To me, the real arrogance comes from those who hate Ackman and think they can make him choke on Herbalife, if in fact it’s a lousy company. Do these people think themselves masters of reality?

anon March 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm

BTW “status competition” in the link label is missing an adjective … I thought you read the comments?

Andrew' March 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Shorts are tricky and this one seems especially tricky. Warren Buffett is an investor in Pampered Chef. Does their revenue go down as they attract more distributors? Probably not. If Ackman was secure in his short, he wouldn’t really need to make a big deal about it, maybe. Thought timing is critical, for shorts. But he’s donating the profits to charity so he doesn’t need the money. But he has a potentially infinite loss if the Herbalife just stays a lousy company indefinitely.

Prakash March 12, 2013 at 2:14 am

A commentor on CT pointed to this link. Also very fascinating, and very much in theme with the status competition meme.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2013/03/05/prince-alwaleed-and-the-curious-case-of-kingdom-holding-stock/

Rahul March 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm

#8 Sometimes prizes cascade and have a snowball effect, I think. Duflo’s prizes seem incommensurately many as compared to her actual work.

But often, I think, accumulating a critical seed volume of prizes nudges other awarding-bodies to do the same.

Dan Weber March 11, 2013 at 2:56 pm

#1 is missing a reference to Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List, Kohler and Mazieres, 2001. http://www.scs.stanford.edu/~dm/home/papers/remove.pdf

Danton March 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

clever title for link #7. its hard to read it and not think of it as part of the same competition imo.

Alexei Sadeski March 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm

> its hard to read it and not think of it as part of the same competition imo.

I had the same reaction.

“Sour grapes are the best!”

Matt March 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Glad to see the author for #7 is a Nietzsche fan. I wonder if he ever feels a bit a recognition when he reads all those passages about the priestly class preaching slave morality as a strategy to usurp power from the ubermenschen with whom they cannot otherwise compete.

sam March 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I don’t think he is exactly a fan. He’s versed in him because one of the theses in his book is that Nietzsche is a founding father of conservatism.

Matt March 12, 2013 at 1:28 am

I briefly looked up his (horrible) book (read the NY Times review if you don’t believe me). A major conservative antagonist seems to be Edmund Burke, who wrote about 100 years before Nietzsche. And, even granting he is unsympathetic to Nietzsche, my point still stands that his commentary on Ackman is soaked through with ressentiment

Ricardo March 12, 2013 at 5:11 am

Robin is an unabashed leftist. As such, no way is he a “fan” of the reactionary Nietzsche. Rather, I think Robin considers Nietzsche useful both as an important exponent of reactionary ideas as well as someone who thought very carefully about the genealogy of some modern cultural practices and moral intuitions.

Zephyrus March 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

>> its hard to read it and not think of it as part of the same competition imo.

> I had the same reaction.

> “Sour grapes are the best!”

I’m having the same reaction.

Jonathan March 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

6. Do the Democrats face a demographic problem of their own?

The interesting thing about that experiment is that it only tested one effect of immigration on white liberals: the physical presence of non-whites. The Latino subway riders in the experiment were just peaceably riding the subway. They weren’t committing crime or disturbing the peace, so they weren’t testing any of the other effects of immigration. They were simply testing the effect of the physical presence of non-whites.

The fact that the mere physical presence of non-whites influenced white liberals’ attitudes to shift in an anti-immigration direction reveals how shallow white liberal support for diversity, immigration, multiculturalism, etc. is. At root there is a visceral aversion to non-whites that isn’t even suppressed so much as just avoided by avoiding non-whites.

Thor March 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I suspect it’s just (just!) something atavistic: no group wants to feel that it might be swamped/outnumbered. I’m not sure this is realism or depressing.

Rahul March 12, 2013 at 1:11 am

In the journey towards civilization we’ve had to suppress several pesky atavistic traits.

Once in a while when an unpalatable trait surfaces, it is indeed depressing.

The Anti-Gnostic March 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Civilization existed on a very high plane long before the modern enshrinement of diversity. (Where do people think ‘diversity’ came from?)

In fact, I’d say modern efforts on this front are downright dystopic, and will culminate in the totalitarian view of human biological diversity as an evil to be eradicated.

Rahul March 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm

#3 Does the structural integrity of lower levels of a building ever depend on the levels above itself? If time / labor is not a factor one can always slowly gnaw at a building starting from the top floor and never have a problem of explosives, debris, dust etc. right?

Or am I missing something?

JWatts March 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Does the structural integrity of lower levels of a building ever depend on the levels above itself?
It can but I doubt that would be an issue in this case. That said, I can’t imagine the process can be economical. It’s probably at least 10x the cost of blowing a building in place. And I suspect it’s much more dangerous.

One wrong calculation and a few internally cracked beams and the building could easily collapse during the tear down process.

If time / labor is not a factor one can always slowly gnaw at a building starting from the top floor and never have a problem of explosives, debris, dust etc. right?

I would agree that this looks like an extremely over engineered solution. This is the Segway of building demolitions.

JWatts March 11, 2013 at 4:23 pm

#2 Concrete tents – That seems like a pretty good idea. The ease of setup and the strengths of the results look promising. If the inventors can manage a big contract to jump start the production costs they should become rich, assuming the production costs are low.

Bender Bending Rodriguez March 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I think the killer here is the water. How clean does the water have to be? In the middle of a humanitarian disaster, clean water might be in even shorter supply than shelter.

Rahul March 12, 2013 at 1:53 am

I doubt the setting cement would mind if the water carried typhoid or cholera. As to mud n muck, I don’t know. But a filter ought to sort that out.

zbicyclist March 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

#7 ” As one rider notes, “I’ve never had an experience where someone has gone from being so aggressive on a bike to being so hopelessly unable to even turn the pedals…. His mind wrote a check that his body couldn’t cash.””

This happens all the time to middle aged alpha males who take up cycling [and probably running…]. The real test of character is whether you show up again the next week.

Anthony March 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm

There’s a Crossfit variation of this – the ex-athlete joins a Crossfit gym, quickly pushes himself much further than he should, and gets rhabdo. A normal out-of-shape person who tries a really intense workout is likely to give up way before getting hurt. A crazy competitive person who has previously been very fit is more likely to push himself into injury.

Ashok Rao March 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm

6. Yeah, I’ve long suspected that New England isn’t really any more enlightened or egalitarian than the rest of our country. There was a beautiful positive correlation between the portion of a state that’s African American and the portion that went for Romney. Vermont, which might as well be all-white, was the farthest left, and Mississippi, which is very black, was the farthest right.

This is really counter-intuitive if your measure is the idea that whites go Romney and Blacks go Obama – but the existence of blacks changes the white mindset. Solving our domestic racial segregation might end gridlock, and the curse of Mr. Nixon…

More thoughts here… http://ashokarao.com/2013/03/11/democrats-and-demographics/

Mark March 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I’m not sure what you mean by “solving” “domestic racial segregation”. You seem to be advocating the use of covert and overt manipulation and force to inhibit free association and force interaction among people against their preferences. I don’t see why you should be able to impose your preferences and beliefs on people who have demonstrated that they don’t share your views.

Ashok Rao March 11, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Actually it has nothing to do with my preferences. This isn’t like cigarette bans or anything like that.

I just want corporations to work on increasing physical mobility of latinos and blacks who are disproportionately represented in the south and southwest. This clearly affects voting patterns in an irrational way and is a latent cause for racism.

Mark March 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm

It has everything to do with your preferences. Your preference is for greater diversity and integration, and you want corporations to enact measures that work towards increasing diversity and integration, regardless of people’s preferences. You want to violate free association and impose your preferences and beliefs on people who don’t share your views.

Rahul March 12, 2013 at 12:35 am

And how exactly do you expect corporations to do that?

Delta to offer discounted Black-only fares for flights into Vermont?

Ricardo March 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm

The correlation is not exact, of course as West Virginia is strongly Republican.

My main problem with #6 is that California presents a test of the hypothesis and the hypothesis does not hold up very well at all. Some whites might become more conservative when living in more diverse areas but this effect appears to be swamped by pre-existing political inclinations and the voting patterns of minorities. 53% of white Californians went for Romney in 2012 which wasn’t nearly enough to counter the 70+% votes Obama got among non-whites who also make up about 45% of California voters.

Ricardo March 12, 2013 at 9:35 am

The four states with the smallest non-Hispanic white populations are Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and California. Of these, three went for Obama in 2012. White Texans are more conservative than whites in these other states for reasons independent of the ethnic composition of their state. As John Quiggin has pointed out, U.S. electoral patterns make a lot more sense once we start treating whites in the South as a distinct “ethnicity” that really is distinct from whites in the rest of the country. Unless white southerners as a group start to grow faster than other ethnic groups and emigrate to neighboring states, California and New Mexico probably provide a better preview for what other states will look like in a few decades.

Bob March 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

6. It has long been true that as the minority population of a state increases in percentage terms white voters move to the Republicans.

But the Republicans problem is that popualtion growth in the country is almost entirely non-white. So the issue is can Republicans increase support of a stable population while the Democrats draw thier support from that portion of the popualtion that is increasing.

That is why Dukakis and Obama basically ran at a little over 40% of the white vote in Presidential elections with dramatically different outcomes.

Michael March 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm

A simple and stunning way to put it. I wonder if Obama worrying about his ‘base’ is also in part about himself at base being uncomfortable with the white Republican Senators etc. ‘bus riding’ in his neighborhood. In that case, hopefully he might get more comfortable and talk to them.

Rahul March 12, 2013 at 2:48 am

What Republicans should really introspect is whether they want to continue to alienate non-white populations?

Andrew' March 12, 2013 at 3:20 am

Maybe non-whites should embrace free markets, capitalism, etc.

Rahul March 12, 2013 at 3:23 am

Think Republicans want to tie their political future to a fantasy of what non-whites ought to be embracing?

Andrew' March 12, 2013 at 3:31 am

I’m cool with losing on principles, especially if those are the ones that are attracting these people. Maybe Republicans could (1) sweeten their lip-service, taking hints from Democrats and (2) go straight at the Democrats lies and (3) embrace the correct positions on things like gay marriage (“I don’t give a f&*%) and (4) rationalize immigration policy.

8 March 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

Republicans don’t have to get non-whites to embrace anything. If they start winning more white votes, they then only need to drive a wedge between one racial group to achieve victory. There will be no principles per se, just the white party and the minority party. The white party only needs to convince one minority to break off from the Democrats. Chances are natural black/hispanic racial conflict will fall into their lap.

Michael March 12, 2013 at 12:59 am

#7 To me this is only good as Schadenfreude and it’s going to need another pound of Schaden; cf. Venice, Merchant of.

Andrew' March 12, 2013 at 5:25 am

The inflatable concrete tent and the 3D unprinting a building in Japan presents an interesting contrast of the human condition.

Floccina March 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm

#6 The republicans desperately need a black presidential candidate and the democrats need to avoid having another one too soon.

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