Assorted links

by on March 1, 2014 at 12:19 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Time zone offset map.

2. Does the “habitable epoch” lie far behind us?

3. How many healthy animals do zoos put down?

4. Autonomous drones flock like birds.

5. Leo Tolstoy’s Sevastopol Sketches.  And Dinner Party Economics is now on-line at Amazon.

6. “How to sweet talk your lady,” advice from 1656.  Here are related thoughts from 1663.

7. Kevin O’Rourke speaks good sense on the euro.

john personna March 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

“You breasts are soft and tender as the Pelican’s.” lol, should I try this?

Cyrus March 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm

If said before one has empirical knowledge of the woman’s breasts, it is rank speculation.
If said while one is gaining said empirical knowledge, it raises certain questions about one’s past avian relations.

Axa March 1, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I’m not sure if the medieval myth of pelicans clarify the situation or make it more disturbing

Larry Siegel March 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm

The advice in “Venus and Adonis” is better. Then be my deer, for I am such a park…

ummm March 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm

The Bay Area has become the center of the universe (my home keeps going up as well)

A stopped clock is right twice a day–we-have-a-bubble-052859779.html (my candidate for the most overrated economist)

An emphatic NO

First, inequality was unavoidable: A small fraction of individuals (say 20 percent) always came to possess a large fraction (say 80 percent) of the total wealth. This happened because some individuals were luckier than others. By chance alone, some peoples’ investments paid off many times in a row. The more wealth they had, the more they could invest, making bigger future gains even more likely.

ad*m March 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm


Obama at least said it was the government that makes you rich not your own hard work and IQ. You seem to be assuming that everyone has the same time preference and invests the same amount, and that just some get lucky and others do not.

In fact the more I think about what you write the less sense it makes.

ummm March 1, 2014 at 4:25 pm

that passage came from the article

The part I agreed is that some will be wealthier than others and that this is unavoidable.

Guest March 1, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Everyone knows some will have more than others. The issue is structuring a society so that non-superstars have an opportunity to be self sufficient and achieve a modest American dream. If everyone had the chance to own a small home and send two bright eyed kids to college it wouldn’t matter how much Perkins had. But since the American Dream has deteriorated into a debt free life people are lashing out at the rich. If trickle down worked we wouidn’t have a problem. But it doesn’t work so the rich are being targeted.

Willitts March 2, 2014 at 1:14 am

Who gave you or anyone else the authority to “structure society” for any purpose?

The home ownership rate exceeds 60% and college is virtually free for anyone in the bottom two quintiles. Who ordained that either of these is necessary or sufficient to achieve a life of happiness and prosperity?

Doesn’t home ownership entail tying up resources and driving down stakes that lower skill/income people should not wisely undertake? Breaking a lease is a less costly affair than a distressed sale of a house.

Most college degrees are worthless.

How much more of this “American Dream” can the tax paying citizens afford?

Plummet March 2, 2014 at 4:58 am

Willits, your view is quite naive.
If I don’t strucutre society, other people will structure it. Current society is the result of the various attempts of generations of competing people to structure it.
There is no natural state of society, just a game of power.

Thomas March 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

If that were the case, Plummets, then your preferred societal structure (see: redistribution) had as much
Moral or ethical validity of any other societal structure (see: zero). Such attempts to structure society as redistributionist through the necessary mechanism of taking by force should be perceived as a
violent action and people who promote such action (see: yourself) should be viewed as literal enemy of anyone who is to be taken from.

Of course, you wouldn’t agree with any of that, because presumably your societal structure preference somehow escapes your moral relativism (see: leftism).

Plummet March 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Wow Thomas, you saw right through me. Are you a psychic?
What you fail to see is that the system that gave you the money in the first place is not more ethical that the system that took it from you.
Some societies reward hard work, some others intelligence, good connection, good reputation, empathy, physical strength, religious devotion, whatever.
Which criteria is most ethical?
Which one is not a violence against people who don’t have the right set of qualities chosen?
In which way that violence if fundamentally different from the violence of redistribution?

Mark Thorson March 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Before anyone thinks there might be a market for exotic meat for restaurant purposes, that’s almost certainly not viable. These animals would have been given antibiotics and other drugs over their lifetimes that are not approved for use in food animals. That’s at least one reason why retired racehorses can’t be used for meat. Wild mustangs, on the other hand, are perfectly suitable for food use but BLM only sells them for rehabilitation as pets or disposes of them. For politcal reasons they do not sell them for meat, even though there’s a market for that meat, overseas if not domestically. I would very much like to try some horsemeat.

glittering prizes March 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm

You would likely regret it. The simple facts of natural history, buttressed by simple biochemistry, applied to simple epidemiology, teach us that it is dangerous and deleterious for a member of any long-lived carnivore species to (successfully or not) attempt to eat meat from animals within a certain small number of standard deviations of their own analytic and emotional brain power, however such power is measured, absent an ongoing duration of several hundred years of natural interactions in a vigorous ecosystem (such well-filtered conditions do not exist in the environs of any complicated meal indulged in by a contemporary civilized human).

Mark Thorson March 1, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Millions of Frenchmen seem to have done okay. It’s not like eating chimps.

William Stuart Donaldson March 2, 2014 at 12:28 am

Agreed. The anti-Horse meat sentiment is far more based on American’s love of horses than it is on health concerns. I personally have enjoyed raw Horse meat while in Japan. It was tasty, and while it may not catch on with American consumers, there is already a market overseas.

Axa March 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

#4: the beard

ad*m March 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

#1 interesting to look at this shift vs mortality. Could be done in the US at the county level.

ivvenalis March 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm

#2: Interesting, but a million years seems an awfully short time for cellular life to arise, especially given the much lower proportion of heavier elements in the universe. Hopefully none of them got lucky enough to become photino birds.

I’d be curious to hear him explain his reasoning from “there could have been a bunch of algae around primordial stars ten billion years ago” to “YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL”.

ummm March 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm

typical leftist science article about humans are not special

Kabal March 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Actually, leftism is strongly associated with the belief that humans are special, and somehow immune to evolution, genetics, and/or heritability.

Liberal creationism.

ummm March 1, 2014 at 4:31 pm

No, the left rejects science unless it agrees to their preexisting biases . They support evolution because they want to believe the average human is little more evolved than a chimp, but reject the science that shows that IQ differences are biological instead of environmental.

Anti-ummmm March 1, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Pretty sure nobody on the left feels that IQ is solely determined by environment.

y81 March 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Well, the preferred position on the left is that IQ is meaningless. Failing that, it’s environmental. IQ tests just measure whether you know what a yacht is blah blah blah.

Plummet March 2, 2014 at 5:03 am

Leftist here.
The only real question is should people with lower IQ have worse lives than people with high IQ.
As a promethean civilisation should we let Nature dictates what sould be the happinness and satisfaction fo the members of our species?

y81 March 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm

2. Huh? First the article says that algae could have evolved billions of years ago, then it says that “other eyes” were watching the heavens. Algae don’t have eyes. There seems to be some predisposition towards the philosophical proposition that human beings have no special metaphysical status, but the rather tentatively-asserted facts do not, in fact, support that proposition at all.

It’s fine if you want to assert that humans have no special status (whether this leads you to getting rid of this human rights nonsense, or to asserting more rights for cockroaches is up to you), but don’t pretend that modern cosmology supports that position, because it doesn’t.

Know how to act like a Darwinist when necessary March 1, 2014 at 3:28 pm

There seems to be some predisposition towards the philosophical proposition that human beings have no special metaphysical status, but the rather tentatively-asserted facts do not, in fact, support that proposition at all.

Yes indeed.

It’s fine if you want to assert that humans have no special status (whether this leads you to getting rid of this human rights nonsense, or to asserting more rights for cockroaches is up to you), but don’t pretend that modern cosmology supports that position, because it doesn’t.

We’ve been schooled so extensively in mechanical reductionism and Darwinism, yet our moment-to-moment experience indicates that the soul and morality have “reality”.

glittering prizes March 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Stable complicatedly conscious life might as well be considered as taking place at more or less the very center of the universe, due to the arithmetically astounding rarity of places where such life could be happy. This fact is true up to at least the point in time where we find ourselves. My comment relies on the current understanding of the acceptable parameters of distance from a heat-giving star, of membership in a necessarily later generation of supernova cycles (a process which renders most of the first billions of years of time superliminal as to complicated life as we know it), and the necessary but lotterylike random luck of eons and eons of time spent at a safe distance from the dizzyingly multitudinous number of antibiological gravitational rifts and cosmic ray apocalypses that riddle the star-warmed regions of every galaxy like piranhas in a piranha tank designed by a piranha lover. (For anyone who remembers popular science of the 80s, I am not arguing the cosmic anthropological principle, I am merely contesting the frequent claim that the Sun is an ordinary star which is hardly even in the suburbs with respect to the center of the universe).

Mark Thorson March 1, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Are you using COMMENTgen?

glittering prizes March 2, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Well, I was writing for my idea of a particular audience. We all often overestimate or underestimate the intelligence of others; it is interesting that such a mis-estimation on my part had such a predictable effect on you.

ummm March 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm

People keep replying to my comments with mtgox related news and I regret to inform everyone that I was not affected because I never held bitcoins at mtgox. sorry. Bitcoin will be at $2000 soon which means more $ for me. The left wants bitcoin to fail like they want facebook to be a bubble or the market to fall.

Anti-ummmm March 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

What if you did hold your coins there? Would that change your mind?

Anti-ummmm March 1, 2014 at 6:18 pm

What are your thoughts on regular gold over the next six months? Big demand from the east but it isn’t really hitting the price of gold.

Donald Pretari March 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

” If the euro is eventually abandoned, my prediction is that historians 50 years from now will wonder how it ever came to be introduced in the first place.”
I agree, but not because it was such a crazy idea. I think people will wonder how people had such decency to try an idea such as this and overcome one of the sorriest moments in human history even knowing that the attempt held such practical problems of implementation and survival. Nothing is Written.

derek March 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm

The euro is a solution to some problems and a source of others. In practice adoption of the Euro meant that Greece and Spain and Italy could borrow seemingly unlimited amounts of money at the same interest rate as Germany.

In practice if you are a manufacturer in a small country with it’s own currency, you work in the currency of your destination market, and you end up being an importer of inputs that you add value to for export into the same market. A 10% change in currency values, not uncommon and unpredictable, take all the fun out of doing business cross currency.

A common currency applies discipline; the government can’t devalue, they are forced to live within certain bounds to maintain the possibility of it working. The common currency has a stabilizing benefit. But the way the Euro and EU operated, making political decisions to avoid the discipline, they guaranteed serious problems.

I understand the impetus, but know as well the political economy aspects that ultimately made it into a serious mistake.

ChrisA March 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I wouldn’t have started the Euro project on the basis solely that it would cause severe problems of adjustment, economies are like ecologies, they are optimized around a certain set of conditions, radically change some of those conditions and you are going to have major disruptions in the function of an economy while it reorientates around the new set of conditions. This means during the reorientation period higher volatility, higher unemployment and slower growth than would be the case otherwise. I doubt the payoff of more stable exporting conditions is worth this disruption. Having said all that, the Euro zone has now partially adapted to this new set of conditions, so it is likely that now they are better off sticking with the Euro. Eventually, say in twenty or thirty years, they will be fully adjusted.

Roy March 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Yes life with no elements other than H, He, or maybe Li. Loeb should go audit a geochemistry course sometime. I think Harvard even has a “cosmochemistry” class, if he thinks geology is beneath him.

Then maybe he could look into biochem…

Alexei Sadeski March 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm


Bet it was pretty easy to sweet talk ladies when the sex ratio was so dramatically skewed in favor of males.

Nikki March 2, 2014 at 1:33 am

Care to share a source re the sex ratio being askew? I’ve looked in the obvious places, came back empty-handed. There’s the Thirty-Years’ War, but most (?) of the casualties were caused by the resulting famine and disease rather than combat, so both sexes would have been affected. That, plus childbirth deaths, as many as one in five by some estimates, plus the witch hunts peaking around that time: seems like women were dying in droves.

Shane M March 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

fwiw, I keep checking back on this blog for a post regarding MtGox and Bitcoin, but am disappointed. After so many Bitcoin posts over several months I’m hoping to see something here.

Willitts March 2, 2014 at 12:52 am

1. Central government oppression, in living color.

3. God Complex

4.Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behavior?

Willitts March 2, 2014 at 12:57 am

I love thee Wilma, with hair like silk,
Lips like cherries, skin like milk,
Your shell-like ears, your dainty hands,
And eyes so black, like frying pans

And when you in my arms are in,
My love how can you doubt?
I quiver just like geletin,
And sometimes even break out.

You’re a perfect peach, my love,
Together we’re a pear (pair),
You’re sweet, you’re nice, you’re paradise,
And all kinna stuff like that there.

nike air max 95 March 13, 2014 at 4:10 am

In 1951, ahead of the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the U.S. plotted and supported the reactionary forces of the Tibetan upper classes to resist the People’s Liberation Army to liberate Tibet. While its plot to help the Dalai Lama flee Tibet failed, it said.

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