Assorted links

by on March 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. For marketing purposes, I would not myself have called it “Soylent, and more here.

2. The (tank) culture that is Russia.

3. Facebook page on project evaluation.

4. Claims about Google glasses.

5. New FDA guidelines for Alzheimer’s drugs, and grocery gift cards for Medicare patients.

6. California makes a big move with on-line education.

Brian Donohue March 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

#4. Google glass- interesting. Adrian Chen- asshole. Perhaps the worst written and argued thing I’ll read this year. Really awful.

Dan Weber March 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Adrien Chen is all about getting rage views. He would not have gotten Tyler to link to him if he didn’t call people who wear Google Glass assholes.

They will eventually be incorporated into normal eyewear, and you won’t if I’m wearing them.

Ted Craig March 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I can see all kinds of problems with that idea.

C March 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I don’t know… I’m inclined to agree with Chen. At this point, like the guy in the 1980s with the mobile phone brick firmly pushed up against his head, I’m going to just assume that anyone strutting around self-importantly wearing a pair of $1500 tech on their face is an asshole.

AC March 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm

To wax Hansonian, assholeishness is not about consideration.

Anon. March 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

It’s not just him, everybody who works at gawker and the other sites they own (kotaku, etc.) write pieces that are designed to cause to maximum amount of rage (and thus inbound links), usually by pretending they are extremely stupid. It’s linkbaiting at an industrial scale.

Andrew' March 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

So, it’s like a Head’s Up Yer Arse Display?

robcyran March 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Nah, Gawker and affiliated sites just assume readers have a specific sense of humor. Unfortunately, self-important readers of economics blogs often seem to lack any sense of humor.

Observer March 14, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Like the kind of sense of humor that involves pretending to be a person dying of cancer? As Chen did on Reddit a while back. Hilarious.

Mr. McKnuckles March 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Funny, I agreed with the article wholeheartedly!

Steve J March 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Must agree the article makes no sense. By wearing the glasses you are letting people know you may photograph them. It almost seems like a service to the people around you rather than a detriment. Between telephoto lenses, small cameras, etc you should be under the assumption you are being photographed any time you are in a public place. I can understand having a problem with someone wearing the glasses in non-public areas but that is much different than saying people who wear them at all are assholes.

dead serious March 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm

“By wearing the glasses you are letting people know you may photograph them.”

“May?” I think it usually works such that the subject gives permission to the photographer, not that the photographer holds an open-ended option of invading the subject’s space and/or privacy.

If you are wearing those glasses and stare at me while mouthing commands to yourself, you are giving me a green light to smack them right off your face.

It’s not socially acceptable to walk up to strangers and point a 35mm or video camera at them. In any culture of which I am aware.

Steve J March 14, 2013 at 11:02 pm

” I think it usually works such that the subject gives permission to the photographer”

Possibly I am incorrect but as far as I know you have no right to privacy in public areas. Things like dashboard cameras are legal in the US right? My assumption is that people who consider themselves to be good drivers will want to record their surroundings to reduce the chance of incorrect blame in accidents. Are people who would do that assholes? The arguments against the glasses seem to be “I don’t want people photographing me when I go outside” but you lost that battle long ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography_and_the_law#United_States

Steve J March 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm

“It’s not socially acceptable to walk up to strangers and point a 35mm or video camera at them. In any culture of which I am aware.”

Do you object to people exercising their right to carry firearms? Many people consider carrying a gun in public socially unacceptable. Seems like a very similar argument to me.

dead serious March 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

I’m not arguing coming at this from legal standpoint but a common decency/social more standpoint.

I know that there is no assumption of privacy when in public. Regardless, paparazzi get assaulted because people don’t like having cameras in their face. I don’t like *anything* being pointed at me unless it’s a bag of 100s.

Dan Weber March 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

Many of the most celebrated photographs of the past century were candid.

Steve J March 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

“I’m not arguing coming at this from legal standpoint but a common decency/social more standpoint”

I think I get where you are coming from. I guess I would claim it is more what you do with the glasses rather than just wearing them that is going to make you an asshole. Similar to the phone. And possibly the glasses do make it easier to be an asshole but I think that is true of a lot of technology. I think wearing the glasses is going to make you look kind of goofy but my assumption is going to be the person is a geek not an asshole.

Thor March 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Well, many Russians probably lost a relative in the Battle of Kursk

About which, incidentally, Wikipedia says:

“The Battle of Kursk was the first battle in which a Blitzkrieg offensive had been defeated before it could break through enemy defenses and into its strategic depths.”

Wonks Anonymous March 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I think you put the wrong url in for the first link. No reference to “Soylent” in Delong’s critique of you.

Ricardo March 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Whereas my first reaction was to try to figure out the connection! I say he did this intentionally with at least P=0.4.

Andrew' March 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Both are irrelevant, but academics have to produce, so we can pretend there are positive return investments available for the sake of fun arguments.

DeLong’s #2 is funny to me. You can’t do it, that is why you use SWAG factors. Then that’s why people overestimate benefits (and Keynesians claim costs are in fact benefits).

So, I’m going with “It’s PEEEEEEEEEEEPOLLLLLLLLL!!!”

Michael B Sullivan March 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm
Julio March 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

or his original post: robrhinehart.com/?p=298

Julio March 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

the correct first link is robrhinehart.com/?p=298 i believe

Steven Kopits March 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Having consulting for governments in both Hungary and the US, I’d like to comment on the nature of deadweight losses in government investment.

1. Government investment is a function of political priorities, not economic ones. We’ve done some work in offshore wind for the government, and I hope we have provided good quality material. But in truth, if offshore wind were a compelling economic proposition, such studies would be unnecessary. Therefore, whether or not the research was conducted efficiently is subordinate to the question of whether the project–even if successfully completed–provides a socially meaningful return. (I’d add that politically driven mandates are not necessarily limited to Democrats. If we look at the defense sector, we can see similar distortions from the other side of the aisle.)

2. Contracting with the government is a laborious process. It can take a year to get a contract signed. Some states require consulting contracts to go through state academic institutions lacking expertise in these matters. Thus, the academic who is formally the lead consultant on a project is really just overhead with little benefit.

3. In many cases we see only cost recovery or low day rates for consulting work. Thus, government work tends to fall to the back of the queue, and therefore delivery is protracted. A project for the public sector can take literally 10 times as long as comparable project for the private sector.

4. A lot of people are involved on the government side. Our project had four managers on the public sector side. For private sector jobs, the number is one.

5. Public sector work is administration-heavy, with all sorts of reports and record-keeping required. We have minimal administration with private sector clients. We agreed a scope, a price and a deadline in a two or three day period. A month later, we deliver the project, make revisions based on comments, and bill.

In short, I think it’s critically important to keep in mind that government is not a return-maximizing entity. It maximizes political acceptability (which can be quite a fuzzy concept). Thus, the notion that government thinks about or approaches a project with a cost-benefit mindset is simply not borne out in reality. Indeed, the concept is fundamentally naive: government today is not about creating stakeholder value; it is about directly societal resources–tax revenues–to politically desirable objectives.

Again, this issue can be readily remedied if politicians were paid a bonus for GDP growth less growth in debt. But right now, politicians are not paid to maximize economic performance. Economists incorrectly ascribe an ROR motivation to government decision makers. It’s just not true–but it could be, if we changed the system.

Bender Bending Rodriguez March 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Public sector work is administration-heavy, with all sorts of reports and record-keeping required.

My previous employer had a lot of fiscal interaction with the feds. His statement on efficiency was something to the effect of:
The money they provide to pave a road pays for about three-fourths of a dump truck full of gravel. Meanwhile, on the oversight side of the ledger, it requires almost one whole full-time employee to ensure that terms and conditions are adhered to.

al March 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm

My favorite quotation from the “soylent” article is: “I don’t think we need fruits and veggies”

But here’s a question: do we *want* fruits and veggies?

Can fruits and veggies do things for us that Soylent cannot? e.g. are we knowledgable enough at this point to say that we are willing to do without molecules like sulfurophane, quercetin, the anthocyanins and all of the other non-vitamin, non-mineral substances found in fruits and veggies?

Da March 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Google Glasses is a definitive step towards the future.

Reducing the product to wearable camera is f***ing shortsighted und plain ignorant. What those people don’t get: Wearable (+ even hidden) cameras can be bought for less than 100 bucks today.

Sam March 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

#4 illustrates the folly of arguing ‘by definition’

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