Assorted links

by on June 7, 2014 at 7:03 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Figure out German animal names with this handy flowchart.

2. The high-tech world of old-world watches.

3. Tracking Detroit’s decay through Google Street View.

4. Knausgaard does Brooklyn.

5. Neurotic robots?

ummm June 7, 2014 at 7:14 am

Stocks at record high

all private sector jobs recovered since the 2008. thank the republicans ad the fed for the recovery.

Andreas Moser June 7, 2014 at 7:37 am

How could the chart (# 1) have forgotten the “Wildschwein”?

Adrian Ratnapala June 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Because a Wildschwein is a genuine pig and And the author is presumably not Obelix the Gaul.

Willitts June 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I can picture his thought bubble.

Trimegistus June 7, 2014 at 9:08 am

The Republicans should use videos of Detroit to show what 30 years of Democrat government does to a place.

Mark Thorson June 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

They’d be called racists for doing that. They are racists, of course, but the appearance should be avoided.

Alexei Sadeski June 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Democrats are the only ones in favor of racial discrimination in university admissions, yet it’s the Republicans that are called racist?

Jan June 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Racism is present in all corners of society, but self-reported data show that white Republicans are on average just a little more racist than Democrats, at least with respect to black people. Thankfully, it seems to be on the decline overall.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/are-white-republicans-more-racist-than-white-democrats/

Willitts June 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Especially when you define racism to be characteristic of white Republicans.

So Much for Subtlety June 7, 2014 at 7:39 pm

It is worse than defining White Republicans as racist. Although the Republican Party is the party of the NAACP. It is asking highly misleading questions to muddy the data. They know they are not asking about racism. They admit it. Look at their first question:

First, how many white Americans say they wouldn’t consider voting for a black presidential candidate? In the 2010 edition of the survey, the most recent version to ask this question, 6 percent of white Republicans and 3 percent of white Demorcats[sic] said they would not. However, it’s possible that these responses have something to do with Obama himself. In 2008, when Obama was a candidate rather than a president, the numbers were about equal among Republicans and Democrats. And at earlier times, white Democrats were more likely than white Republicans to say they wouldn’t vote for a black president. In 1988, for instance, when Jesse Jackson was running for the Democratic nomination, 23 percent of white Democrats said they wouldn’t vote for a black president, compared to 19 percent of white Republicans.

So what they have proved is that the Republicans don’t like the Democrat candidate. Just as they proved in the past, Democrats did not like the Democrat candidate. Not sure that is racism.

This question, for instance, has nothing to do with racism:

Another question asked respondents whether they’d object to living in a half-black neighborhood.

Half-Black areas are objectively more dangerous and with declining services. No one in their right mind wants to live in a half Black neighborhood unless the Black half is rapidly declining. And no one does.

But let’s look at a question that is more clearly racist:

From 1990 to 2008, white Republicans were just slightly more likely than white Democrats to say they considered blacks to be more “unintelligent” than “intelligent.” However, the numbers have fallen over time, and the small partisan gap erased itself in the past two surveys, 2010 and 2012, under Obama’s presidency.

No difference. This is the most likely fact to come from this survey – on questions that are pretty clearly designed to get a racist response, there is no difference.

Jan June 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Fair point on the first one, but I’d say some of the other questions pretty clearly getting at racist tendencies, including the neighborhoods one. The only thing they are asking about is half-black neighborhoods and whether someone would object to living in it on those grounds. No mention of whether it is high crime or now. Are all half-black neighborhoods higher crime and white ones? What about Latino-majority neighborhoods?

Opposition to a relative marrying a black person? Well, of course one could say, “that’s justified, because blacks make less money on average and are more likely to get divorced.” That argument may be based on facts, but it still strikes me as racist. Of course this all depends on your definition of racist. You may have a vary narrow one.

So Much for Subtlety June 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Jan

The only thing they are asking about is half-black neighborhoods and whether someone would object to living in it on those grounds. No mention of whether it is high crime or now. Are all half-black neighborhoods higher crime and white ones? What about Latino-majority neighborhoods?

But everyone knows what neighborhoods with high crime rates are like. You don’t have to spell out why living next door to a slaughter house is a bad idea. People know. If there is a neighborhood with a high number of Blacks and low crime, I don’t know of it.

Opposition to a relative marrying a black person? Well, of course one could say, “that’s justified, because blacks make less money on average and are more likely to get divorced.” That argument may be based on facts, but it still strikes me as racist. Of course this all depends on your definition of racist. You may have a vary narrow one.

I agree that is a much more problematic question but even so consider what it does cover – suppose you asked an Ultra-Orthodox Jew. She might well say her relatives have to marry other Ultra-Orthodox Jews and there are very few Black Hassidim. Like, none. That would look like racism but it may not be as such. There are a lot of endogamous communities in America – although most tend to vote Democrat like ethnic communities in the North-East. Although, given White Americans of whatever political orientation do not generally marry Blacks, this is more likely a measure of what people know they should say as opposed to what they believe.

Mark Thorson June 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Republicans are the only ones who are called racists, just like Democrats are the only ones called big spenders.

Fair? Who said anything about being fair? A fair world would not be a democracy with freedom of speech.

So Much for Subtlety June 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm

The difference being the Democrats are the party of big spenders. While also being the party of the Ku Klux Klan. What was Robert Byrd’s job with the Klan again?

Besides, maybe the racists are right. If any political idea has been tried and failed, it is Black Consciousness. Black Nationalism has been an utter failure wherever it has been tried.

Willitts June 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

I think the failure of Black ventures stems from the dogmatic rejection of all things paradigmatic of their former oppressors. In that respect, they are not unique.

Chris S June 7, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Correlation, not causation. The root cause of Detroit’s decay is being a single-industry town, experiencing growth to 2M then bust to 0.650M.

Z June 7, 2014 at 11:34 pm

You mean like Pittsburgh? They lost their industry more completely and quickly than Detroit, yet Pittsburgh is not Mogadishu now. It reinvented itself into one of the hip, happening cities on the east coast.

Maybe it is something else.

Donald Pretari June 8, 2014 at 3:49 am

What does Mogadishu have to do with Detroit? Detroit has lost 25% of its population over the last decade or so leading to abandoned neighborhoods which are decaying. Mogadishu didn’t lose a large amount its population in recent years, as far I know. It was part of a country in which a civil was fought. Recently things have been getting better. What’s the connection?

chuck martel June 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

Pittsburgh is over three hundred miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Slocum June 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

Pittsburgh’s population decline since 1950 is almost as severe as Detroit’s (from 669K in 1950 to 306K now). And Pittsburgh’s shrinkage is not just old news. It lost an additional 9% of its population from 1990 to 2000 and did it again between 2000 and 2010.

zbicyclist June 8, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Pittsburgh had the advantage of not having Coleman Young (+cronies) as mayor.

Trimegistus June 8, 2014 at 9:09 am

Sorry, blaming the decline of the auto industry doesn’t let the Democrats off the hook for ruining Detroit. Other cities around the country have lost industries but survived just fine. No excuses.

Slocum June 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

The root cause of Detroit’s decay is being a single-industry town.

Nope. the city of Detroit is no more auto-industry dependent than the region as a whole. In 1950, the Detroit metro area had a population of a little over 3M and nearly 2M of those lived in the city. Now, the metro region population is 4.3M and fewer than 700K live in the city. Detroit accounted for almost 60% of the region’s population in 1950 vs around 16% today. This is a story of abandonment, a massive population shift within the region. And, in this case, a desire for suburban-style housing wasn’t even a factor (because — as you can see in the street view images — most of Detroit’s neighborhoods are indistinguishable in style from the surrounding suburbs). What drove the flight from Detroit was high-crime, high taxes, lousy schools, corruption, poor city services, and racial polarization. The boom-and-bust nature of the auto industry is a side show.

Donald Pretari June 8, 2014 at 3:56 am

Do me a favor and list just a few Democratic policies that led to this decline. Also, give a simple explanation of why state and national policies didn’t effect the situation in Detroit over the last 20 years. Nice to see that you took a post about a human tragedy and made it political so quickly. It’s a talent, I’ll grant you that, and that’s about it.

Donald Pretari June 8, 2014 at 3:57 am

The last post was directed at Hermes.

So Much for Subtlety June 8, 2014 at 8:41 am

Detroit is not a human tragedy. It is entirely political. It is a case of gross political incompetence leading to disaster.

A few Democratic policies? In Detroit they elected Coleman Young as mayor. He campaigned explicitly on a “the police are racists” platform. He promised to abolish the street crime unit. Which he did not get to do because the previous mayor panicked and did it first. Young purged the police of White officers as far as he was able. He adopted soft-on-crime policies. These are not unusual for Black Democrats. Even though Black people are the main victims of crime, Black politicians invariably demand the end to tough-on-crime policies.

The results were entirely predictable – crime has skyrocketed and driven everyone who can afford to leave Detroit out. As it was always going to do. But they are not entirely predictable – other problems are much worse. Perhaps the pre-1974 police were racist, but shootings by police officers, now overwhelmingly Black, are up by something like 2000 percent. Incidents of police brutality are up by a similar amount too. Crime solving rates are down.

How did State and National policies affect those? Well, I expect that the Republicans got tough with Federal crime and that only helped Detroit.

In passing I note Obama and Eric Holder have said that they want more drug offenders out of prison and that schools must punish Black students at the same rate as everyone else. Can’t wait to see how that is going to work out.

Chris June 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

Here’s an interesting link, if only as a demonstration of people not using easy-to-find information. The Gini ratios in the first point are WAY off. I’d really like to know where the writer found them, but they won’t respond to my emails.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/nine-questions-us-poverty-answered

Neil Strickland June 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm

The second instance of the word ‘Gini’ in that article is a link to the following 150 page report by Credit Suisse research:

http://www.international-adviser.com/ia/media/Media/Credit-Suisse-Global-Wealth-Databook-2013.pdf

The figures quoted in the article come from that report. Clearly, they are very different from the figures quoted at

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

and attributed to the World Bank and the CIA. However, the Credit Suisse report claims to be current, whereas
many of wikipedia’s figures are old; in particular, the figure for the US is from 2007. The preface to the
Credit Suisse report also says “More importantly, it sets out in detail the data employed in
our Global Wealth project, the methodology used to calculate estimates of wealth and how this may differ
from other reports in this field.”. However, searching the document for “Gini” does not find anything
informative about methodology, and I have not tried any harder than that.

Chris June 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Thanks for tracking that down!

Hmmm… The Census Bureau says .477 for 2012. Where did Credit Suisse get such off the wall numbers when every other estimate I’ve seen is lower?

https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/2012/H04_2012.xls

dan1111 June 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm

#5 – The article fails to explain how programming robots to have a phobia or be obsessive-compulsive will help robots mimic humans in a positive way.

The researcher interviewed says “The brain has incredibly flexibility and adaptability” and AI needs to replicate that. He then goes on to talk about how he made a robot that avoids open spaces. I don’t get the connection between the two.

derek June 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Most abnormal behaviors that people display are normal behaviors taken to an extreme. The attention to detail and discipline that a good computer programmer exhibits if taken a bit further can turn into obsessive compulsive. Or the other end, someone absent minded lost in thought that produces works of art or scientific breakthrough. Or determination and aggressively pursuing a goal. We are not deterministic creatures, yet our brains can produce a robot.

dan1111 June 8, 2014 at 3:52 am

I agree with everything you said, but I still don’t see how modelling abnormal behaviors is a path to modelling human complexity.

An algorithm that mimics abnormal behavior has little in common with the complexities in the human brain that lead to such behavior. It’s easy enough to program a robot to avoid open spaces or wash its hands over and over, but in doing so you haven’t discovered anything about human thought processes. The similarity to human behavior is superficial.

sort_of_knowledgeable June 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Flexible and adaptive robots have to balance several factors such as main task, self preservation and environmental conditions.

“A search-and-rescue drone, for example, might stay put during foul weather instead of taking a risk to complete its mission.”

Along the way the robots might exhibit abnormal behavior similar to human abnormal psychological states.

Jan June 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

#2) An animal that will never be on this chart is the squirrel, because Germans cannot pronounce the word.

Jan June 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Er, #1.

Willitts June 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Einhörnchen?

Peldrigal June 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm

sqVirrel

DR. D June 7, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Eichhornchen I believe, sorry no umlaut on my keyboard.

Jan June 7, 2014 at 11:15 pm

But in fairness to the Germans, it goes both ways: http://goo.gl/03yEuI

LemmusLemmus June 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

That would be a small unicorn.

Willitts June 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm

2. Swatch…ETA garbage. Glashütte Original is the only Swatch brand worth the money, and that comes from its character. Sistem 51 is something I might get a nephew for a First Holy Communion gift.

A. Lange und Søhne — now that is a watch!

Willitts June 7, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Even Swatch is abandoning ETA for the Calibre 1969 in-house Tag movement.

anon June 7, 2014 at 11:39 pm

2. The high-tech world of old-world watch

For the same people who buy $8 ice cubes?

I don’t know anyone who wears a watch anymore, except a few successful lawyer acquaintances. But I assume I am not among the people they are trying to impress as I have no clue how to recognize an expensive watch.

But thank goodness we all have different tastes and needs. And more power to those who are dull enough to want to be rich.

another anon June 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

You wear watches for girls to recognize, not guys. It’s an easy way to signal your spending habits while indoors, and a more reliable signal than clothing. There are pros and cons to this strategy.

Greg June 8, 2014 at 12:57 am

Can we expect an MR review of My Struggle Vol. 3?

Donald Pretari June 8, 2014 at 3:19 pm

That was a pathetic response, and I’m being kind. You didn’t even mention the fortunes of the automobile industry. Your response actually tells us a lot about you, but nothing about Detroit.

Donald Pretari June 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Directed to “So much for being reasonable.”

So Much for Subtlety June 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Why should I mention the fortunes of the automobile industry? You asked for Democratic policies. You got one. You did not ask for a discussion of the car industry. And also, the fortunes of the automobile companies has very little to do with the decline of Detroit. Pittsburgh, as others have pointed out, suffered an even worse decline in the steel industry and yet it is regularly voted one of the best cities to live in.

What State and Federal intervention there has been has been to help Detroit. A lot of the GM bail out money could have been saved if GM was allowed to do what it wanted to do and sell up in Detroit and move to the suburbs. Obama did not let it.

It is not even Democratic policies per se. The North-West votes in liberal city governments and Seattle et al are still great places to live. It is the type of Democratic policy that matters. It is people like Coleman Young. Or to put it more bluntly, it is the sort of electorate that votes for people like Young.

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