Assorted links

by on May 28, 2014 at 11:55 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Z May 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm

#6: I think this is a very interesting story for a number of reasons. The first is that Amazon is not a healthy business. That’s why they are trying to shake down the publishers.

There’s also the publishing business. The music industry destroyed itself, but they were the first to confront disruptive technology. The book business has that example as well the example of newspapers. They don’t have to follow the same path to the gallows.

2 KLO May 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Amazon has done this for years. It is just the way Amazon does business. For example, Amazon has not sold Nintendo’s consoles for years. Because Nintendo does not have much relevance to the Times’ readers, this dispute gets no attention.

3 Sanjay May 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Wow, that’s just what your nocturnal predators — foxes, racoons, opossums, owls maybe? — have been asking for.

4 affenkopf May 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

4. Alternative title: “The culture that are anthropologists”

5 Art Deco May 28, 2014 at 7:10 pm

No. Father and son just have episodically bad judgment (stupendously bad). Estranged mother a member of a culture which makes Gypsies look good.

6 Doug May 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm


Publix hires a lot of mentally disabled people. They pay solid middle class wage and benefits after a few years of consistent work. Many Downs still have high big five C and E. Publix does a good job of putting them in roles where this comparative advantage is highly utilized. As far as I can tell their apparent productivity seems the same as other employees (which is why they can afford to pay solid wages). There’s a lot of service sector roles that don’t require high or even average IQ. But they do require good management to streamline the intellectual division of labor. There are few large retail chains that seem to match Publix’s store management skill.

7 Dan Weber May 28, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Many Downs still have high big five C and E.

Explain please.

8 Finch May 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Conscientiousness and extroversion.

You may have been asking for something more than that.

9 Dan Weber May 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Nope, that was it exactly.

10 Ray Lopez May 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

@#6 – fascinating, as I am reading the Yanomamo Chagnon scholar’s rambling early 1970s book Studying the Yanomamo now. What I concluded is that critics of Chagnon are somewhat correct in that Chagnon, by embedding himself and his westerners into Yano* tribes, influence the tribe to act a certain way (so they can get iron tool gifts). But then again these so-called “Stone Age” people have been this way for years (some say since the days of the Spanish colonizers, and some say certain primitive tribes are actually regressions of ‘civilized’ people who went back into the jungle–maybe to escape the colonizers?). BTW the Yano* are very violent, show no love (no word for ‘love’), and do stuff like humiliate a boy member of another clan who takes as a bride a girl that somehow offends the girl’s father, by having the father offer the girl to the other boys and forbid the girl’s husband from having sex with her (a cuckold situation, from Chagnon’s book). They are, according to Chagnon, NOT “stewards” of the rain forest, as they have a very light population density but repeatedly abuse the forest resources (precisely because they can, since the forest regenerates with such a light human footprint), and 50% of Yanomano men die at an early age from warfare (this was the early 1970s).

@#1 – chess openings do get more complex, a sort of entropy situation, over time, but then again it’s said that so do governments, with a spur towards supranational UN-type organs. But chess also, over the short run, is governed by fads. Players play certain openings because the World Champ and his buddies do. Witness from the author’s graph that in the mid-to-late 1970s the Indian 1.d4 Nf6 opening became temporarily very popular, probably because G. Kasparov started playing it.

11 Vernunft May 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

Not sure if joking or unaware of when Kasparov was active, and what Indian defenses are.

12 Brian Donohue May 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

#4. There are seriously unattractive aspects to human nature, as exemplified by virtually everyone in that story. Chagnon is vilified for serving up such home truths. C’est la vie.

13 Li Zhi May 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I challenge this author’s elitist assumption that Chess can be defined (or quantified) by tournament play. Tail wags dog? Typical PhD student…
There are 20 possible opening moves. Which have been proved to not be viable?

14 Milo Minderbinder May 28, 2014 at 1:33 pm

1. h4??

15 Ray Lopez May 28, 2014 at 1:38 pm

1. g4!! was perfected by the Greek GM Spyridon Skembris, and practiced by the internet gadfly, onetime Lynchburg VA resident and litigious chess expert Sam Sloan.

16 dan May 28, 2014 at 5:24 pm

1. f3 is probably the weakest first move.

17 ummm May 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm

stocks and bitcoin keep going up

#7 watching youtube videos all day sounds like fun

18 Tony May 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

#1) A few thoughts:

The increasing diversity of chess openings is largely driven by the increasing opening preparation of top players. When your opponent has 30-40 moves of memorized opening preparation in certain lines, it is often good strategy to avoid his openings of choice.

Along the same lines, as opening preparation has developed, certain lines have become notoriously drawish (most famously, the Berlin). This has pushed some top players away from e4, and indeed has made d4 the most common opening move amongst super-GMs.

As chess skill has increased, games between top GMs have become much more likely to draw. To the extent that players want to avoid a draw (e.g. for tournament standing or ratings purposes), they are more likely to choose a less-standard opening.

Opening preparation isn’t fun. Several top-players (including Carlsen) often remark that they just want to get out of the opening with fighting chances and “just play chess”.

Finally, the article probably overstates the true diversity of chess openings, since several openings often transpose into other, more common, openings (such as 1. Nf3, which more often than not transposes into a e4, d4, or c4 game).

19 Brian Donohue May 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm

“As chess skill has increased, games between top GMs have become much more likely to draw.”

Ultimately then is chess no different from tic-tac-toe or global thermonuclear war?

Anyone? Bueller?

20 Mark Thorson May 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

How much is a bed made out of robots going to cost? At least $10,000, and probably closer to $100,000. And what will it weigh? How often is your bed going to become something else? Not very often, unless the sheet, bedcover, and pillows are also made out of robots.

Cardboard, on the other hand, is cheap and lightweight. It can be disassembled into pieces that are flat, if you need to get it out of the way for a party or something.

21 dan1111 May 29, 2014 at 6:16 am

Agreed, this is a classic solution in search of a problem.

Dynamically reconfigurable furniture is a simple idea that has been around for awhile. It is widespread in applications where there is a real need for it (such as sofa beds).

The robots add little to nothing to the overall concept in general. Focus on the disabled and elderly is a tacit admission of this. Obviously robots to help them have a lot of potential, but it is not clear why they would need dynamically reconfigurable furniture.

22 charlie May 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

3. Piketty’s second response is even less impressive than his first. Maybe he is being unfavorably quoted in that link, but there’s a certain prima dona vibe to his comments.

23 lxm May 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Here’s one of the quotes from the second response:

“He didn’t give me proper time to respond (less than 24 hours) and most of all the mail he sent me did not include a large part of the material that they were going to publish,” he said to Newsweek in the email. “I maintain that there’s no error or flaw in my series.”

Calling this a ‘prima dona vibe’ is unsupported as far as I am concerned. The rest of the article is about Giles and the ‘era of big data.’ There is little of Piketty in it.

It’s been interesting watching the responses to Piketty’s book. Those on the right don’t like it and those on the left do. The responses says a lot about the state of economic theory today. (it’s in the pits.)

But the one comment that has stuck with me throughout this conversation is this one:

“Wealth = power.”

I am not sure where I read it, but it sure rings true.

To paraphrase it: Inequality is not only about you or me having more money in our pockets than those other people, but also about being able to bend the laws to our interests.

I like it.

After all, what’s the point of being rich if you cannot buy a congress critter or two?

24 charlie May 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm

As the article explains, his excuse (not enough time) lacks a certain plausibility, because he responded several hours before the fake deadline that they gave him expired.

Also, his claim that there is “no error or flaw” is delusional. Giles found several outright errors, no? Piketty should have argued that they are insignificant to his thesis, not that they don’t exist. The equivalent would be if Rogoff denied that there had been any mistakes in his excel sheet. It’s childish.

25 lxm May 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Of course, how foolish of me!

He had hours left to respond to an analysis that had certainly taken days to complete about a document that had taken years to research and write.

Of course, he had plenty of time. Of course, he’s delusional. It’s obvious!

I know better now.

Thank you.

26 Ricardo May 29, 2014 at 4:23 am

Not really. He responded four hours before the deadline but did not respond to all of FT’s questions. That’s pretty consistent with the way busy people tend to operate — if you write a long email full of detailed questions about data and calculations, you might get a response with a few preliminary thoughts or you might not get any response at all but it is rather unreasonable to expect a detailed line-by-line answer complete with citations and formulas.

As the article also says, “Giles also confirmed Piketty’s contention that the Financial Times did not seek to undertake a formal interview with Piketty about the many data points it questioned. Giles said the approach was given the green light by the paper’s legal team. “After lengthy discussions internally and sending our analysis to an independent expert—who agreed with us, but wants to remain anonymous—we were comfortable with our approach,” he told Newsweek.”


“Giles told Newsweek he did not think the U.K. data should be assumed to be of lesser quality just because it is new and experimental—but he also did not appear to know this fact about the data and said he would “look into it.””

All this is to say that if Giles is going to put Piketty’s book on trial, we haven’t even reached the preliminary hearing phase.

27 ChrisA May 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm

“what’s the point of being rich if you cannot buy a congress critter or two?” vs “Wealth = power.” There is a certain contradiction there, If wealth does equal power, why does the rich person have to bribe a congressman? Surely in this analysis it is the congressman who has power, that the rich person is trying to influence. Hugh taxation rates to reduce the ability of rich people to bribe congressman seems like overkill to me. Why not just address the problem directly, and enforce more rigorously anti-bribery rules? If this is impossible, then perhaps we should look to limit the power of congressman, since if they are so corruptible then perhaps they cannot be trusted So we should put constitutional limits on what the legislative branch can do. I would certainly support that.

28 Dismalist May 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

#8: No shake-ups go well. IIRC, the last World Bank reorganization was intended to dispense with middle management, an eminently sensible idea, but it was deemed a failure ex post. Anybody know about planned size of staff changes in the present reorganization?

Also, parking subsidies are absurd because parking is supposed to be expensive! Let the employees take the Metro. I believe their closest station is Foggy Bottom, in case anyone hadn’t known. Train every six minutes during rush hours.

29 Sam May 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Offtopic: Tyler, At 33:00 here @NateSilver538 posits good brunch reviews are contrarian indicator. seems right. agree?

30 Donald Pretari May 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm

#8…The Onion equivalent of this piece would have the employees hailing their loss of perks, the cutting of costs, and the shedding of light on what’s actually going on and who’s doing what.

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