Assorted links

by on July 1, 2013 at 11:41 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. New paper on MIT’s openness to Jewish economists, by E. Roy Weintraub.

2. The last telegram has not yet been sent.

3. How well or badly did the sequester work out?  In most areas we were told something far from the truth.

4. Is there such a thing as a basic emotion?  Very interesting piece.

5. Claims about Japanese rice, and new Chinese law says children must visit their elderly parents.

6. Why Ezra Klein won’t replace Google Reader.

7. The Holy Quran Park.

prior_approval July 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm

‘The Justice Department, for instance, prevented furloughs by “cutting” $300 million in money that had already legally expired …’

So, they continue to spend money by saying money they couldn’t spend is what they cut?

That sounds considerably more dire concerning the very idea of sequestration than any of its effects.

In other words, the same old DC shell game that has been played out for decades.

Hadur July 1, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Several universities first became notable because in the early 20th century, they accepted Jews and Catholics while bigger-name universities did not. Some of these, like MIT, managed to maintain their status after the Ivy League dropped its prejudice; others, like many of the public schools in New York, never recovered from this. Schools like WUSTL, UChicago, Boston College, and Notre Dame are somewhere in the middle: they are still considered good schools, but not elite, and arguably their heyday was in the past when the Ivy League was less accessible.

Steve Sailer July 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm

“New paper on MIT’s openness to Jewish economists, by E. Roy Weintraub.”

How did the U. of Chicago compare to MIT in this regard?

An interesting question I’ve never seen discussed is why American Jews founded so few universities (e.g., Brandeis and Yeshiva, but not much else) compared to other groups, such as Lutherans or Methodists.

Jake July 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Probably due to urban vs. rural settlement. American Jews immigrated to major cities with established universities. Groups like Lutherans and Methodists founded lots of universities because they spread out to rural areas without any universities.

Steve Sailer July 2, 2013 at 1:05 am

Makes sense.

Non Papa July 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

But of the schools you mention, WUSTL, UChicago and BC have all drastically increased their selectivity in the past 20-30 years. The reasons for that aren’t related to accepting Jews/Catholics but it seems strange to argue that their heyday was in the past. WUSTL in particular has seen a meteoric rise in prestige and wealth in the same way as George Washington U. and NYU.

If anything, I’d expect that these schools are more likely to get Ivy League rejects than they were in the past; their relative prestige is higher and it’s harder than ever to get into the Ivy League. The fact that Harvard now accepts students of all stripes (plus some unrelated demographic/economic changes) means, paradoxically, that it’s even less “accessible” than it was in the past — it’s just become more equally inaccessible across demographic groups. And the fact that WUSTL, UChicago, etc. are popularly accepted as near-Ivies makes them much more attractive to students who end up on the wrong side of Harvard’s 5.9% acceptance rate.

Mark Thorson July 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

The article in Dawn links to an article in The Atlantic about the destruction of religious sites in Mecca.

I’d heard about that, but I didn’t realize how extensive it is. This is a real tragedy. They’re destroying some very important historical sites, and the Wahabi clerics actually approve of this because they consider veneration of a building or a location to be a form of idolatry.

Cliff July 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Amazing how much people venerate old buildings. Good for the Saudis that they don’t, the world could use a culture less fawning over old bunches of stones. Of course if there is real historical/archaeological work to be done, that would be nice. But preservation for the sake of preservation is no great shakes.

Rahul July 2, 2013 at 5:20 am

On a related topic, I’m annoyed be preservation laws that classify a building as “historic” and then mandate a special set of rules for it. It’s almost like coming to own a historic building is a penalty.

I feel the city council should either buy the building at market value and then preserve it as it wants. Else leave the owner alone.

One cannot venerate old architecture as a historic legacy but then not want to pay for it.

Michael D. Abamoff July 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Islam is like that. In Jerusalem, they have been destroying sites since 2004 at least:

Ted Craig July 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm

6. I considered that, but most the blogs in my Reader post infrequently.

Matt Darling July 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Did anyone read 6 as “Why [Ezra Klein] won’t replace [Google Reader]“? After all, wonkblog does perform a lot of the aggregation services I used to rely on google reader for.

RR July 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I read it that way too. I think ” Why Ezra Klein isn’t planning on replacing Google Reader” may have read more unambiguously.,

anon July 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Ezra Klein was never suitable as a substitute or replacement for Goggle Reader.

Sigivald July 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Yeah, that was more or less my thought.

“Well, because Ezra’s not interested in personally providing an RSS feed for my webcomics and gun blogs, I reckon…”

anon July 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

3. How well or badly did the sequester work out?

Egads, for many small and medium businesses in DC the impact of the sequester was only starting to be felt in late June. (The DC real estate bubble will not pop for another 6 to 18 months, so if you are thinking of selling, sell now. A double whammy is coming: people will start to realize the cuts are going to have an impact and rates will (probably) go up.) Rather than asking journalists and academics, talk with small business owners in the DC area.

FY 2014 will be interesting for the DC area.


NPW July 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm

The lag time between previously awarded contracts running out of money and the absence of new contracts is about to snap together like a rubber band. The effects here in DC will be interesting.

anon July 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Two business associates (both in DC) told me they had not experienced cancelled government contracts until this year, starting in April.

anon July 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

“Economist: Furloughs will take $2 billion bite from D.C. area economy”

Brian Donohue July 2, 2013 at 11:02 am

Yeah, this is a feature, not a bug.

anon July 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm

5. … new Chinese law says children must visit their elderly parents.

The last comment in the linked article: “It’s funny to make it part of a law; it’s like requiring couples to have a harmonious sex life after marriage.”

Is this anything like a “one-child policy”?

new Chinese law says children must visit their elderly parents.

So Much For Subtlety July 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Why is it funny to mandate a harmonious sex life after marriage? Lots of cultures do so. Ancient Athens mandated that husbands had to have sex a certain number of times a month with their wives. You look at Jewish weddings. A traditional one will have a contract which will spell out specifically and clearly the wife’s right to regular sex.

The problem is you are coming from a monogamous Christian culture where sex for men is rare. Ancient Greece and Israel both lived in polygamous societies where sex was a feast or famine thing for men – they either had a lot or none. On top of which they did not get to choose their wives and so probably did not like them anyway. It was perfectly possible for a wife to get no sex at all as their husband spent his time with prostitutes or concubines.

Of course now we live in a post-Christian society, wives don’t sleep with their husbands much anyway, so sex for men is even rarer. However given that lack of sex for men, I wonder if there is a trend to put a demand in pre-nups that wives, well, put out? We would be doing the opposite of the Jewish tradition. On the other hand, if porn continues to spread perhaps women will be forced to demand sex as in the ancient world.

Athrelon July 2, 2013 at 8:11 am

“If the people be led by laws, and uniformity among them be sought by punishments, they will try to escape punishment and have no sense of shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought among them through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of shame and come to you of their own accord”

whatsthat July 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm

#1: Why isn’t this racist?

Or in other words why is racism only a problem when something negative is said?

GiT July 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

You have to be pretty stupid to think that vigorously welcoming a previously excluded class is “racist.” Race-blindness is not anti-racist.

whatsthat July 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Maybe I am pretty stupid, however, if someone writes “educational achievement reduced because African Americans increased in number” it would be called racist.

To stretch your point, it is very easy to go from a statement like the above and yours about not being blind about race to convince someone that African Americans are undeserving of educational investment.

It is not to say that there are underlying reasons why Jewish people do well, while African Americans do badly. But one is okay, the other is not. This attitude is not okay. One must be consistent.

I would – respectfully (an attitude that seems to be lost) – say that race blindness is the only way to be non-(not anti) racist. This is the only way to avoid the logical inconsistency above.

dearieme July 1, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Is there much point asking for logical consistency on a matter dominated by quasi-religious emoting?

Sigivald July 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Well, if nobody asks for it, the status quo of emote-dominance will never end, will it?

There’s not much point in expecting such a request to work, or work immediately, no…

So Much For Subtlety July 1, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I am sorry but why would it be racist to say that educational achievement reduced because African Americans increased in numbers? Isn’t that, you know, not merely true but also demonstrable? If you read a book like Hillel Levine’s The death of an American Jewish community, he has an excellent example of what happened when a school changed nothing, not its teachers, not its textbooks, not its subjects, nothing, except the student body shifted from being White to Jewish to largely Black. Care to guess what happened to their results?

Boston Latin has fought to retain its exam-based admissions system. They used to have a set-aside for minorities but were forced to drop it. There is pressure to make them use a lottery system for admissions. There have also been complaints about New York’s selective public schools. Because they have few Blacks. Actually in New York they have few Whites as well as they are heavily Asian, but that apparently does not matter. So tell me, if they changed the admission system so that the student bodies of these schools was strongly African American, as the neighborhoods they are located in are as a general rule, what do you think would happen to their average educational achievement? Go on, be honest and tell us what you think.

It doesn’t matter if it is racist or not, as long as it is true. And if it is true, it is not racist. Now how honest are you willing to be?

anon July 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Jewish academics like circle jerking each other in the guise of academic research in order to raise the status of their identity group. Nothing new here. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff is funded.

anon July 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Let me fix that:

Academics like circle jerking each other in the guise of academic research in order to raise the status of their identity group.

anon July 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm

7. The Holy Quran Park. commenter BRR asked something I was wondering about:

Will there be a section for “killing blasphemers”? Will there be a section for throwing stones at adulterers? Will there be a section for breaking TVs and other things that are haram?

Captain Louis Renault July 1, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I’m shocked, shocked to find that the sequester isn’t as bad as advertised!

Brian Donohue July 2, 2013 at 11:08 am

I thought of all The Chicken Littles who squawked their way through the comments here:

“Their credibility — I don’t want to say it’s shot, but it’s definitely diminished,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who chairs a House subcommittee that has oversight over Homeland Security and has examined its sequestration predictions. “They’re going to have a hard time doing that, when they had the doomsday scenario, and the sky didn’t fall.”

They’re already starting in with “OK, now we’re serious…”

Garrett G July 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm

In regards to basic emotions and Paul Ekman’s work, I think the author misses the point. Ekman’s argument was not that emotions are universally recognized. In his works, he points out that a large fraction of the population mix up certain (distinct) emotions: disgust and anger are commonly mixed up, even in instances where they do not co-occur; surprise and fear are also mixed (again, even when the emotion expressed is not a blend).

Ekman’s work provided credence to the idea that at least some expressions of emotion are *human* rather than specific to a race, or that they are learned via mimicry. (Bolstering this view is research on people who are congenitally blind.)

Ekman has been extremely (and somewhat painfully, I might add) detailed in pointing out situations in which cultural factors (namely “display rules”) muddy the waters, as in when cultures encourage “masking” smiles to cover unpleasant emotion. This does not alter the genuine representation of emotion, when masking does not occur.

This is not to suggest perfection on the part of all of Ekman’s work, but only to point to the fact that much of the criticism for his work is based on misunderstanding it.

mm July 2, 2013 at 1:13 am

What I understand and find facinating here is that a premise is found to be lacking proof – that there is no basic pathways for emotions – the meaning to nueral buzz is by learned associations, not hardwaired. So what is called basic emotion may be learned in different ways – same feeling of loss when seen actively is felt as Anxiety and when seen lethargically as Depression -

N July 2, 2013 at 2:53 am

I’d also like to disrecommend the basic emotions article. The “maverick scientist fights the establishment” formula is fine for fiction writing, but here it’s embarrassing to both the protagonist and the author. I expected better.

Thor July 2, 2013 at 3:50 am

Glad I wasn’t the only one quite underwhelmed by this feeble challenge to Ekman’s large body of work. The presentation of his views was shoddy, leaving the impression that the challenge to Ekman has more substance than I believe it does.

Ed July 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Barrett’s main criticism of Ekman’s method is that he supplied the labels for the emotions rather than allow the subjects to independently supply both the number of buckets and their labels, as each felt was appropriate, and then categorize the pictures accordingly. Barrett’s research seems to suggest that, left to their own devices, subjects create fewer buckets. More importantly, the finer-grained “Western” distinctions between similar emotions disappear because subjects lack the common cultural basis by which to recognize/label the emotions as such.

Here’s the key bit from the article:
“In other words, as Barrett put it to me, emotion isn’t a simple reflex or a bodily state that’s hard-wired into our DNA, and it’s certainly not universally expressed. It’s a contingent act of perception that makes sense of the information coming in from the world around you, how your body is feeling in the moment, and everything you’ve ever been taught to understand as emotion. Culture to culture, person to person even, it’s never quite the same. What’s felt as sadness in one person might as easily be felt as weariness in another, or frustration in someone else.”

As I understand it, the label for a given emotion and its specific associated feelings is arbitrary, much as borders on a map. The analogy being that an alien might indeed divide the earth’s landmasses into continents like North America, South America, Africa, Eurasia, and Australia. However, most would agree that it is ludicrous to assume that the alien would accurately draw the present national borders onto a blank map. Coming back to emotions and humans, remote tribes could well identify the most basic of emotions without the assistance of labels – emotions like happy and sad – and not much else.

Each of us, Barrett says, forms the set of rules that associate clusters of naturally arising feelings with a specific culturally defined label for an emotion. In other words, the borders of our emotions will vary according to cultural identifications we encounter as we mature, not according to innate borders in our emotional responses to given situations, circumstances, or events.

Hopaulius July 2, 2013 at 1:26 am

3. From the article: Sequestraion “won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day,” President Obama said on Feb. 19, decrying sequestration as a “meat-cleaver approach.” Me: to what “bloated program that has outlived its usefulness” has the president proposed applying his surgically precise cuts?

anon July 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

to what “bloated program that has outlived its usefulness” has the president proposed applying his surgically precise cuts?


Da July 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

Ezra Klein’s post is an obvious troll post to gather clicks.

No grown up has the time to check bookmarks all day.

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