Assorted links

by on May 6, 2013 at 11:01 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Bulletproof whiteboards.

2. Does anyone like Google Glass?  And a kind of opposite of the concept.

3. Do the digital elite have an alternative to college?

4. Megan McArdle on Medicaid, circa 2011.

5. Bob Murphy on Alex, and others, Dogmengeschichte.

gwern May 6, 2013 at 11:16 am

> 2. Does anyone like Google Glass? And a kind of opposite of the concept.

Dunno, when I recently calculated worse than even odds Glass would die in 5 years, I seemed to get a lot of skepticism. So at least among my fellow techies, just as the Businessweek article suggests, there seem to be a lot of Glass fans. Glass doesn’t have to become universally popular to succeed, after all, it just needs to find a reasonable-sized niche.

john personna May 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I’m completely neutral on Glass, which I think is kind of rare. I’d let the first adopters figure it out. (I have “special eyes” anyway.)

dan1111 May 6, 2013 at 3:36 pm

A couple of points on this:

1) A lot of the complaints are about missing features or bugginess, which are simply because this is an initial development version. This is really not at all relevant to the long-term prospects of Glass. It is not going to fail because Google refuses to put in a volume setting or doesn’t let you move icons around.

2) Remember when the iPad first came out? A lot of the reviews were about how stupid is: “It’s a huge phone that can’t make calls!” “It costs as much as a laptop, but can’t do nearly as much!”. Not to say that Glass is going to succeed (most big new ideas fail), but negative initial reviews don’t necessarily prove much.

Rob Malda May 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Here’s my capsule review of the iPod:

No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.

Adrian Ratnapala May 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Google glass is obviously ***ing stupid.

But it is equally obvious that the future is Cyborgs. So G.G. might have a place as a stepping stone.

That. And you will be assimilated.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

5. What a world.

john pesonna May 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Dishonesty followed by self-pity is unbecoming. Again, and simply, Keynesians’ own model is counter-cyclical. One does not simply make up another argument for ones opponent. BTW, this was followed shortly by another dishonest meme cycle. In it people who up until yesterday decried slow growth in the US, suddenly said “but we are growing fine, and so Keynesians are wrong [to want more growth this year].”

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

It’s neither dishonesty nor self-pity. PK is the most emo commenter I can think of. It’s a fine point. If there is one variable to rule them all, then it shouldn’t be that easy to undermine it. Noone is claiming what those who project onto others claim they are claiming.

john personna May 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I don’t need to make it about PK, and I don’t need to re-hash it. Matthew Yglesias came in with an argument pretty much like my own, and it is linked by way of 5 above.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

“I don’t need to make it about PK”

Well, that’s how we know you aren’t him.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

But seriously, MY’s opinion is the pot calling the kettle black. All Alex does is point out that the government can increase ‘austerity’ without hurting growth and MY fixates on the assumption that it must be Alex’s small-government dogma blinding him.

They do this so they can ignore the point that TODAY we are also not seeing very bad effects from supposed austerity which The US is or isn’t doing versus Europe who is having bad effects because they are or aren’t doing austerity.

The point seems to me to be that maybe there isn’t just one factor. I don’t understand why economists would want to make their jobs look easy.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm

If one person simply stops advocating in his scorched-earth style, all this simply goes away.

One can respond that then nobody is doing anything towards the moral goal, but that is simply begging the question.

john personna May 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

MY starts with the observation that AT does not fairly characterize counter-cyclical policy, and he argues with a strawman. You then fault MY for pinning that strwaman to AT’s ideology? That would be the “pity” part. See above.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Yeah. I so wish I got paid for this in something other than manic asset, but here goes.

The other side (side!!!) is cherry-picking a small nitpick from a post that Alex doesn’t even say. Not only that Alex does not argue against countercyclical policy in his post, it is VERY very clear that Alex ALSO points to NOW. So, unless PK et. al. are claiming that the time for anti-austerity is passed, they are either being illiterate or disingenuous.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

AND the ones acting butthurt in the process. Alex don’t give a shit.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

You can’t even make a small clarifying point/critique of THEIR SIDE (SIDE!!!!!!) without being intellectually lynched. My only question is what is wrong with the people who don’t see this.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Not only that, Alex links directly to the Sumner monetary offset idea which is tangentially Keynesian.

What the fuck is wrong with you people!?!?!

Jan May 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I don’t know understand what exactly elicited this rant or what all the references are to, but it is amazingly hilarious.

dearieme May 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

People who are very shouty and repetitive are, in the everyday world, often assumed to be drunk, or on course to madness. Is it different in Economist World?

Widmerpool May 6, 2013 at 11:28 am

#4: The quote from Yglesias highlights yet again your perplexing habit of quoting and referring to him approvingly. Does he throw killer parties?

ac May 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

2: alpha version of product is buggy and not polished. Writer declares product doomed.

David Wright May 6, 2013 at 11:42 am

Kudos to Megan for her prescience and even-handed ness.

wiki May 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

+100 We don’t do enough to praise careful and even-handed discussions that prove especially prescient.

Alex A. May 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Agreed. Wiki I think you just summarized one of Tyler’s core goals of MR.

Throw Megan into the category of “blogs which observable reality is plagiarizing”. I get the same kick out of this Medicaid thing that I do reading about how the EPR paradox was turned on its head to support quantum mechanics, or imagining David Hume showing Lord Bacon a literal black swan brought back from Australia.

Blogger May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I see what you’re saying but I think you mean “the same kind of kick”, not “the same degree of kick”…health economics is a big deal but this experiment is not on the same level as the confirmation of quantum mechanics or the birth of empiricism.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

We don’t do enough praising of the people who praise those people…even while those people incorrectly criticize other people we praise and defend…ahem…as in, noone will have the foggiest idea what I’m referring to.

Alex A. May 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm

@Andrew: I got thrown off by the ambiguous antecedent of “those people”…are you referring to the original prescient people or to the 2nd-order praisers? Are you saying Tyler or Megan (or Wiki?) incorrectly criticize other people?

By the way I’m praising Megan…in the previous post on this I left a comment giving Robin all the credit, joking that “it’s like observable reality is plagiarizing his blog”, and now Tyler’s made it clear that Megan is rightfully in that club of prescience.

@Blogger: I’m just saying I get a kick out of the fact that Robin Hanson (and Megan too) was running around for years offending people’s sensibilities on healthcare with a seemingly absurd hypothesis that half of utilization is essentially wasteful care signalling, essentially a trillion-dollar fruit arrangement, and then reality hyperbolically intruded with blunt evidence in his favor. It’s hilarious.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I, sir, off you praise for praising the people who praise the prescient people. Let those people never be forgotten!

Brian Donohue May 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Yup.

Unsympathetic May 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Megan is not at all being either prescient or even-handed.

She threw out a lot of numbers, then 2/3 of the way through, asserted everything to that point had no meaning, and inserted her own insane morality. Did Bobo and McArgle get their playbooks from the same source?

“This has implications for whether or not we should have a public health plan” – yes, to achieve health outcomes. Zero of the options in her asserted choice included this option.

“We can come up with all sorts of objective measures, but we have to keep asking ourselves, relentlessly, whether what we’re actually measuring is good or bad” — Yes, especially when those pesky objective measures show without fail that diagnostic tests increase the accuracy of diagnoses. You know, the entire reason for those tests in the first place. Similarly, we have to keep asking ourselves why we keep reading Megan’s columns.

“Is lowering easily-measurable blood-cholesterol levels, at the risk of muscle atrophy, an improvement in health, and if so, how much?” – Reread that sentence. High cholesterol bad, mmkay? One, if you’re at risk of muscle atrophy, work out. Two, there’s risk in every single thing you do.. there is zero intervention that doesn’t have some risk associated. For example, aspirin can cause death — but you have to eat 36 pills in one day before that is a risk for even 50% of the population.

What kind of nonsense is she mumbling about in the last three paragraphs?
“But while there are some treatments that just shouldn’t be done” – Name them, Megan. Name them all. If you want to make the case that something isn’t worth doing, show the data.. otherwise you’re as much of a braniac as stoners who come up with ways to save the world at 3am in college dorm rooms.

“even if there’s no easy-to-measure improvement” – No. This does not exist. Be specific. What procedure? What’s the patient, what’s the diagnosis? Doctors spend a decade of their lives passing tests and being chosen as superior to other peers who are attempting to get their license.. nothing happens randomly, doctors don’t just whimsically push procedures because it makes them happy.

Bottom line: If you’re going to hand-wavingly assert that doctors aren’t doing their jobs, then you also need to define 100% of the situation in which that job isn’t being done.. because if your column’s solution isn’t to a problem in the real world, then you don’t have a point.

As with every Megan column, this one fails completely when subjected to actual analysis. It’s psychobabble that doesn’t make any salient points – just like Bobo.

Robert Cottrell May 6, 2013 at 11:42 am

Not sure if this is the opposite of Google Glass, or a coming feature-set thereof: http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-free-speech-national-security/privacy-invading-potential-eye-tracking

Urso May 6, 2013 at 11:46 am

The article on google Glass makes an excellent point, which is that tech writers suffer much more criticism for wrongly proclaiming that a new technology is useless than they do for wrongly proclaiming that a new technology will take over the world. Better to err on the side of declaring everything exceptional, especially when it comes from a name company.

Thom May 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I’m surprised at all the negativity around Google Glass. It seems like an obvious evolution to me, albeit one that is in its infancy. A few years down the line when they have worked out the kinks, and especially when they figure out how to allow for subaudible voice input, this and similar products seem as though they would be ubiquitous.

E May 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Why not use facial/eye movements to navigate menus instead of voice?

Thom May 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

You still have to be able to input text and relay messages.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Do you?

Go Kings, Go May 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

You do, to feed a reflexive urge to input a comment to everything read.

Ricardo May 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Or ear wiggling?

Mark Thorson May 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I can wiggle my ears. I can even wiggle just one ear, though that’s more difficult. I couldn’t do this until I was around 20. I believe pretty much anybody can learn how to do this.

Hard to see how you’d make a UI from it. I could tap out a message in Morse code, but that would be slow. It would be tough to control a cursor my ears — that would be like typing with my toes.

Urso May 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

My concern is not whether the technology will improve (it will, by leaps and bounds) but whether this is a technoogy I want in the first place.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I’m tempted to attack Google Glass from the “duh” front. Kind of like all the hoopla over Romney’s “binders full of women” comment, my gut reaction is “why is this so confusing to you people?” Sure, in a kind of “one simply does not go to a party wearing HotOrNot as an accessory” uncouthness, I get it. But if there is a fraction of a penny to be made, you don’t think some Wall Street Trader isn’t going to wear them followed by in due course by all the imitators then idiots?

FC May 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Google Glass + a portable millimeter-wave radar = x-ray specs. Now that’s what you wear to a party.

Andrew' May 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Plus a tumescence meter. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Bender Bending Rodriguez May 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Do you know of any tumescence meters with Bluetooth, preferably the BT4 LE? I’m working on my killer Android app “Whiff o’ Stiff”.

Yancey Ward May 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Ah, you are not drinking from the “Google Is EVIL!!” koolaid.

bob May 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I’m surprised that the creepiness of google glass hasn’t come up yet. It was recently revealed that every single phone call is stored and accessible to the US authorities. If google glass becomes ubiquitous it’ll be every single conversation. What google glass does is permit the police to convert any wearer into Mr Jones from the Matrix. Soon the state will just activate the glasses of all the relations of anyone they happen to be looking for, no warrant required.

Sigivald May 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm

It was recently revealed that every single phone call is stored and accessible to the US authorities.

Asserted, not revealed, wasn’t it?

There’s a difference, after all.

Go Kings, Go! May 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

There’s no difference. Consider: you will save your soul from eternal damnation if you accept Jesus into your heart.

James May 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm

#3: A similar college workaround/supplement are “programmer dojos” that work with employers and tie their income directly to finding students software developer jobs, many examples available at http://bootcamper.io/. (I’m going to Hacker School myself this summer and hope to find something cooler to do than going back to college afterward)

JoeDog May 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm

#1. Let’s hope this is the low point in the debate on gun violence…..

prior_approval May 7, 2013 at 2:31 am

The rest of the world is not holding its breath in anticipation that America won’t be able to trump this too – but then, some people look at the subject with a more jaundiced eye, as the NPR report is a couple of weeks later than its UK inspiration, which opens this way –

‘The pink bulletproof rucksack that 5-year-old Jaliyah wears to school every day reaches almost down to her knees and weighs 3lbs even when empty, but for her Colorado father, the size and solidity are part of the attraction.

“If you put it on her back, it almost covers her whole body,” explains Demitric Boykin. “It was a very hard conversation to have but she knows that it’s something that will keep her safe.”

Lined with ballistic material that can stop a 9mm bullet travelling at 400 metres per second, the backpack is only one of a clutch of new products making their way into US schools in the wake of Newtown school massacre. As gun control legislation grinds to halt in Washington, a growing number of parents and teachers are taking matters into their own hands.

The Denver company that supplied Jaliyah’s rucksack, Elite Sterling Security, has sold over 300 in the last two months and received inquiries from some 2,000 families across the US. It is also in discussion with more than a dozen schools in Colorado about equipping them with ballistic safety vests, a scaled-down version of military uniforms designed to hang in classroom cupboards for children to wear in an emergency.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/26/us-bulletproof-uniforms-gun-control

Urso May 7, 2013 at 11:47 am

Wow, 300 sold in the entire US. That’s certainly a representative sample for showing What Americans Are Like.

Mike H May 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

#1 A far more effective solution would be to provide schools and teachers (maybe some senior students as well) with pepper spray. Self-defense experts have again and again point out that pepper spray is by far the most effective personal defense alternative to guns. It has the range, speed, ability to deal with multiple assailants and also being non-lethal. True, a gunman will still get to fire a few shots before the people around him manage to spray on his face and disarm him, but the casualty of a school shooting will never again exceed single digit.

DanCouper May 7, 2013 at 3:00 am

#3: is there some stigma attached to the word ‘apprentice’? I realise this is what the article actually calls it at some points, but ‘Ms. Ittycheria, 31, and Mr. Sarhan, 26, call the program “learning by doing.”’ Ugh. ALSO, this breathless tone of wide-eyed discovery that each susequent article on the brave new world of apprenticeships carries is starting to drive me crackers. [throws body on the machine]

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