Assorted links

by on October 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. How did popcorn come to be associated with the movies?

2. The ascendancy of data in eight young economics stars.

3. “Hauling iron ore across Australia’s outback pays some 400 engineers about $224,000 per year, but the gravy train is coming to an end thanks to robots.”  The Ricardo effect.

4. Possibly innocent man was held in solitary confinement for 41 years, he has now passed away.

5. Does eye contact harm your case? (speculative)

6. Watson, meet your new partner, Amos.

7. www.grundeinkommen.ch.  Wikipedia ist hier.

AC October 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

All this cutesy personification of Watson et al. is detracting from good reporting on how these systems work and what they’re capable of. Most readers probably don’t even know whether the innovative parts of Watson and Amos are hardware or software. Good branding, maybe, but bad reporting.

MJ October 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

What the German article lacks is the reference to Hayek’s idea about basic income (not the same as this specific incarnation of Grundeinkommen, it seems):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

They reference The Political Order of a Free People, but didn’t he make the point in The Road to Serfdom, already?

Deirdre McCloskey (in her review of Sandel’s highschool essay) asserts that a basic income may have enjoyed ‘bipartisan’ support (that is, among economists) some 50 years ago. She names Friedman and Tobin, but does not provide a source:

http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/editorials/sandel.php

Ronald Brak October 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Here a gravy train is considered to be where someone gets a lot of money for little effort. Working the ore trains is definitely good money, but in an Australian context it’s not really a gravy train. Few people would consider it to be easy work and wages are quite high in here. Minimum wage is about $17.50 an hour here. But Australia is an expensive place to live and a dollar won’t go as far as it does in the US, so while we’re definitely not poor we’re not quite as rich as it may seem.

Ronald Brak October 6, 2013 at 12:08 am

Sorry about my poor writing above. I commented while sleep deprived. (Normally I write English very good.)

Ali Choudhury October 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

How does train driver = engineer?

Anon October 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm
George October 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Mechanical engineers used to drive trains back in the early days.

Ape Man October 6, 2013 at 6:24 am

You would be surprised who get called Engineer. By my job title I am an engineer but I would never claim to be an “Engineer.”

amplituhedron October 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm
Claude Emer October 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

The post highlights the weakness, or what I take to be the weakness of “Average is Over” based on the number of reviews linked here, the human factor. Regardless of data, we are emotional beings, biased and unfair. No amount of mathematical efficiency will take that out of us. Maybe when robots (and economists) figure out sociology can they come up with a meritocratic human organization. Until then manufacturing more products faster will not yield anything other than consumer goods, which consumers at some point won’t have the means to consume. The result: just another bubble. Yawn.

The rest of the article is interesting, regarding how well fraud an unethical behavior is embedded in our corporate culture. BTW, it’s in our society too.

Claude Emer October 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

#4. America’s dirty little secret. The justice system has little to do with justice. It’s about closure for the victims. How many more like him?

chuck martel October 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Closure for the victims? Implementation of so-called justice is the raw material for the US legislative/judicial/enforcement machinery and it can’t be denied that raw material. Trained sociopath Samuel C. D’Aquilla wants to re-indict the fellow 41 years after the fact, just as jurisdictions attempt to extradite felons already serving life sentences so they can get sure-thing convictions and give them more life sentences for other crimes. It’s all about income, power and advancement for judges, cops, prison guards and officials, attorneys, and more.

Tom T. October 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm

As to #4, the indictment was ruled defective because the state had excluded women from the grand jury. There’s no suggestion in the linked article that he’s “possibly innocent,” in the sense of not in fact having killed the prison guard.

mike October 6, 2013 at 6:45 am

Yeah, that’s about as technical a technicality as there is. It’s actually extremely common when you read these “exoneration” sob stories, if you look into the details you find that the conviction was overturned or vacated based on some technicality. Sure, that’s something, but the stories as written (including this one) often attempt to imply that somehow the person has been proven innocent. In this story, they quote the wife of the murder victim as saying she believes the man is innocent. But, um, how would she have the slightest idea? She has no more first-hand knowledge of what happened than I do. And given the article’s admission that the convict was a “black nationalist”, I can’t help but amusedly wonder if Amnesty International, the NYT, and other assorted documentarists would have fawned over a white nationalist the same way..

Claude Emer October 6, 2013 at 11:11 am

It’s a technicality but it’s an important one. The implication is that the jury was stacked. This is not insignificant unless you believe that jury stacking doesn’t affect the outcome of a trial. A prosecutor can get almost anyone convincted if not held accountable to following the rules.

A lot of the “sob stories” you mention are about people convincted under dubious circumstances. With the number of people on death row or convincted and later exonerated with DNA evidence or other evidence, wouldn’t it be obvious that due process is not being followed? Whether the person is a white nationalist or a a black one is completely irrelevant.

Careless October 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm

“stacking” a grand jury is pretty close to irrelevant. Not anyone can convict a ham sandwich.

mike October 7, 2013 at 2:24 am

“A lot of the “sob stories” you mention are about people convincted under dubious circumstances. With the number of people on death row or convincted and later exonerated with DNA evidence or other evidence, wouldn’t it be obvious that due process is not being followed?”

Yeah, I think you didn’t read what I wrote. All those stories you hear about people being “exonerated” with DNA evidence? They weren’t proven innocent, it’s just that some tiny amount of doubt was shed on their conviction and in the American legal system that means we have do the whole thing over again. Not even doubt, really, just hypothetical doubt. Some procedural irregularity or new scientific analysis that wasn’t available at that time, as analyzed by a judge hand-picked to be extremely favorable to the desired outcome, meticulously engineered over the course of many years. To be frank, unless you are an experienced US criminal law attorney, you have no idea what you are talking about on this subject.

“Whether the person is a white nationalist or a a black one is completely irrelevant.”

If you really believe that, find me one single example of one of these journals writing a puff piece about a “wrongfully convicted” white nationalist.

hamilton October 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm

2. All links to young guns in economics serve to remind me how far behind I am. Oysh…

TuringTest October 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Not to worry … 100 years from now, people will still be reading Hayek, but I doubt that anyone will be reading the work of these “young stars”

whatsthat October 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Maybe that is precisely cause for worry.

mkt October 5, 2013 at 9:55 pm

#1: “consumers needed a popper, oil, butter, salt and other ingredients to replicate their favorite movie theater snack at home”.

Utterly false, although it is true that without a popcorn machine or a microwave oven, it’s less convenient to make popcorn. I was visiting a friend once, we were going to watch a video and he apologized that there’d be no popcorn because his popcorn maker had broken and he didn’t own a microwave. “You can make popcorn in a frying pan or sauce pan” I told him. “How do you do that?”.

I proceeded to make a batch for us: heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a pan — the size and shape doesn’t matter much but it does need to have a decent-fitting lid. When the oil starts getting hot, put one or two kernels of popcorn in it. Keep waiting. When the first kernel pops, pour a few tablespoons of popcorn into the pan (warning: put very little in, popcorn expands A LOT after it pops). Cover pan. Move it back and forth every 10 seconds or so to keep the kernels from scorching. You will hear the kernels popping. Keep shaking the pan every several seconds, when the popping slows down take it off the heat but keep the cover on, wait until the popping slows down and finally stops, then (and only then, unless you want popcorn all over the kitchen) take the cover off. Pour into a bowl. Usually the hot pan is a convenient place to melt some butter, pour that over the popcorn and add salt.

What I don’t recall, because I’ve used a microwave for decades to make popcorn, is the heat setting on the stove. Probably medium.

But: no popper is needed, ever. One does need to have popcorn (duh), oil, salt, and butter, but how many households lack oil, salt, and butter, and a covered pan?

Dan Weber October 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Does no one remember it popping the top right off of the popper?

Ronald Brak October 6, 2013 at 6:14 am

I didn’t know popcorn could be cooked in a microwave. I must be well behind the times. Or maybe my lack of nous is simply due to my living in a land that isn’t suitably popcorn centric.

chuck martel October 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

Just received a microwave as a gift recently and decided to try out the microwave popcorn. Oddly, each kernel popped at the same time. The explosion blew the door off the microwave. Going to use the replacement only for warming up coffee, baking spuds and reheating spaghetti sauce. No more popcorn.

Ronald Brak October 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

That’s pretty funny. Looking into the art of popcorn making I that see in China it is sometimes cooked in a large sealed cast iron container with a pressure gague that is rotated over an open flame. When the pressure is high enough they open the container with lowers the pressure and the kernals all pop at once causing them to spray out. Apparently it is vitally important to remember to hold a sack over the opening. These “popcorn hammers” are now considered to be dangerous. Imagine that.

Ape Man October 6, 2013 at 6:27 am

Growing up, my Father made popcorn all the time without a machine or microwave. As I recall, he just cranked it up all the way and let the burner rip. But that is the way he cooked everything so I am not sure if I would take that as a guide.

AB October 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm

And why, along similar lines, is cotton candy associated with the circus? I’m a city boy, who imagines it might also be offered at county fairs and the like. Also strongly associated with the circus–and elephants–are peanuts in the shell (though in adulthood I frequently buy them, unsalted to protect their hearts, for the squirrels).

idindonuffins October 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

#4: As barbaric as it is economically backwards. What is needed is a return to a convict leasing system. Perhaps then we would have proper incentives in place to warrant a wholesale reevaluation of what is and is not “cruel and unusual.” It’s such an appealing alternative at this point that I imagine inmates everywhere would be clamoring for the right to opt in.

mulp October 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Yep, but in modern times, the cops would need to stake out engineering buildings and high tech office parks to find the “criminals” who can be leased out for city profit and kickbacks to do programming.

The overhead cost of common labor for ditch digging, mining, etc is higher that the cost of a backhoe or blowing off the tops of mountains.

Mousie Dong October 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Popcorn? Years ago in Taiwan movie snacks included chicken feet and other poultry offal, including pope’s noses, if I remember correctly.

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