Assorted links

by on August 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. How we would cover Ferguson if it happened in another country.

2. Hitchhiking robot travels across Canada.

3. Archeologists use drones.

4. Charles C. Mann on how to talk about climate change.

5. What Swans can do.  “I never overcame.  I incorporated.

6. Nudging drivers into lower speeds.

bruce oberg August 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm

the mann link goes to the drones piece.

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Brian Donohue August 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

See link from Anders below…

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Peter Schaeffer August 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

“How we would cover Ferguson if it happened in another country”

Was actually about how foreigners might report on events in this country.

How would Americans report on something like Ferguson if it happened abroad?

That’s easy. We wouldn’t. The death of a single foreign citizen (other than a celebrity of some kind) doesn’t make it onto American radar screen. Foreign riots do show up in American news. However, they have to be rather rather large. To put this in perspective, Ferguson is getting more press than ISIS these days. ISIS is probably at least 1000 times more important.

Of course, this pattern is almost certainly global. My guess is that all countries treat local news as more significant than foreign events.

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rick August 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Mike Brown’s Darwin Award isn’t even significant enough to be national or even regional news. It’s not even “news” so much as an opportunistic ruling class propaganda campaign. I mean, thug criminals getting neutralized while assaulting police officers is pretty “man bites dog”, IMO.

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rick August 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm

err… I meant “dog bites man”

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rick August 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

as in, it is the natural order of things and wouldn’t seem to merit all this fuss

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Locke August 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm

You should have stopped before you said anything at all.

prior_approval August 18, 2014 at 12:05 am

Actually, ‘cops shoot family dog’.

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dearieme August 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The thing is, “abroad” isn’t exceptional.

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TMC August 17, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Depends which broad.

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Gordon Mohr (@gojomo) August 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I wish Vox had waited for Keating at Slate to apply his “If It Happened There” formula to Ferguson.

As it is, Vox stole the formula, then did it wrong, adding outlandish alt-reality flourishes like fake quotes and discussion of Chinese/Russian/Peshmerga military intervention. It thus winds up halfway between a satire of tone, and a ‘Borowitz Report’ of “ha ha what if” fabrications.

The beauty of Keating’s originals in the series is that they *don’t* make anything up. It’s still real news, just with the tone and framing of condescending foreign coverage.

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JonFraz August 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm

The London riots of a couple years ago were reported on here.

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NathanP August 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Riots in a Alpha++ city are going to be more significant news than riots in an majority black, impoverished area of a an American rust belt city.

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anne August 17, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Actually, everything about this piece is off mark. Sectarian is the wrong word entirely. The word refers to differences of politics or religion WITHIN a racial or ethnic group. And if our media covered a clash between communities of African decent with ethnic Chinese or Russians without mentioning race, it would reflect their ignorance regarding attitudes in those countries. Additionally, given the apparent prejudice of many Chinese and Russians, it is doubtful they would be sending aid. Forgive me, but Vox cracks me up. Started by Mr. Journolist Ezra Klein himself to leftsplain politics, it has about as much credibility as Rush Limbaugh. http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/08/8-worst-countries-black-people-travel/

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P August 18, 2014 at 4:00 am

The Ferguson story is actually being closely covered by media in many European countries. The narrative of racist white Americans gunning down innocent blacks is popular in Europe. The Saint Trayvon story was also big in European media.

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Edward Pierce August 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm

“Regime security forces cracked down brutally on largely peaceful protests.”

Brutality indeed. The images of lost limbs and protesters beaten comatose have filled the airwaves in recent days. I’ve also read comparisons of tear gas to war crimes, and the Ferguson police department to Assad’s regime. Not to absolve anyone involved or to lessen the seriousness of the situation, but many Americans’ lack of perspective is just adorable.

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Anders August 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm
Brian Donohue August 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for the link. Tyler, get it fixed!

An unusually intelligent treatment of the subject. Something for everyone to take issue with, I think.

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Derek August 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Not a bad article, but two events have occurred that were not mentioned. One is the geoengineering that occurred of the northern BC coast. Second is the abundance of natural gas that makes contemplating shuttering coal plants possible.

The Montreal protocol had an advantage because it was in the interest of producers of chlorofluorocarbons to introduce non commodity patent protected refrigerants and industrial solvents into the marketplace. The electronics industry didn’t disappear when they has to use a different solvent, nor did car seats become unpadded.

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Hopaulius August 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I realize authors rarely get to title their own articles, but nowhere in the Mann article does he tell us how to talk about climate change so people will listen. Indeed, plenty of people are listening, yet climate change continues to poll near the bottom of concerns people want governments to address.

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andrew' August 18, 2014 at 4:19 am

I think even the debate itself is overhyped. Like terrorism. Nuclear power risks, etc. The features of the debate are more important than any alleged facts.

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Dismalist August 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm

#4: Go nuclear, young man, go nuclear!

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andrew' August 18, 2014 at 4:21 am

Yeah, if you are Chinese or like submarine living? 1. How do you like submarine living? 2. How do you know you like submarine living(

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ThomasH August 18, 2014 at 10:38 am

What planet is Mann living on to think that adoption of policies to slow down the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere is stalled because of a disagreement between “environmentalists” and “economists?” No action is taken because some people believe, or claim to believe, that the costs CO2 accumulation is low and than those of even the lowest cost policies to mitigate the accumulation are high.

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Michael August 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm

He’s living on the planet where people actually read their sources.

The latest I’ve seen, seems to indicate that the “lowest cost policies to mitigate the accumulation” (i.e. solar, wind) still cost more than the costs to CO2 accumulation. Here’s just one link:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/07/what-is-the-cheapest-form-of-green-power-lets-ask-petr-beckmann.html

As the Dismalist says, “Go nuclear, young man”. And when a scientist doesn’t advocate that, I take it as a signal.

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Alexei Sadeski August 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm

The overreach in the Ferguson piece has an unintended effect.

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Art Deco August 17, 2014 at 2:45 pm

#1: Lame

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Yang August 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

The problem, of course, is the very high rates of violent crime that blacks commit.
According to FBI crime states. Blacks commit homicide at 10x the rate that whites do. Whites commit homicide at 4x the rate asians do.

And the differential in per capita rates of inter-racial violence are even worse. Blacks commit violent crimes (like homicide and rape) against whites and asians at levels orders of magnitude higher than whites and asians commit violence against blacks.

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Nylund August 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Also true:

The problem, of course, is the very high rates of violent crime that men commit. According to FBI crime states. Men commit homicide at 10x the rate that women do.

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Alexei Sadeski August 17, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Show me the riots and civil rights leaders, out there on the streets, protesting against the mass incarceration and violence men suffer under the state.

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ThomasH August 17, 2014 at 3:16 pm

What planet is Mann living on to think that action to reduce the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere is stalled by a disagreement between too hot environmentalists and too cool economists? The stall come from those who believe or claim to believe that CO2 accumulation will not cause enough harm to merit even the economists’ lowest cost measures.

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andrew' August 18, 2014 at 4:13 am

And those who believe there is no cost too great and no benefit required.

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Dan Lavatan August 17, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I think once people figure out we are being tricked, game theory requires we drive faster than we would have on a normal road. It’s just like we need to floor it between speed bumps to discourage people from putting up speed bumps.

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Michael August 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Yeah, I’m pretty sure the “painting a girl w/ a ball on the road” trick would just desensitize drivers to the presence of (perceived) children on the road. Bad bad mojo.

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Evan Harper August 17, 2014 at 5:23 pm

You capitalized Swans. I thought “I didn’t know Tyler was that hip.” But you weren’t, after all.

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Krigl August 18, 2014 at 7:33 am

He fooled me as well. Guess I can’t trust him now. Oh well, it’s not unusual.

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BC August 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

#4) “[The article in] Science, offered more-precise estimates: during the next century, the oceans will surge by as much as a quarter of a millimeter a year. By 2100, that is, the calamity in Antarctica will have driven up sea levels by almost an inch. The process would get a bit faster, the researchers emphasized, ‘within centuries.’

How is one supposed to respond to this kind of news?…the disaster will never affect me or anyone I know; nor, very probably, will it trouble my grandchildren. How much consideration do I owe the people it will affect?”

I guess we should respond by first considering how well our ancestors from 100 years ago or centuries ago could predict what life today in 2014 would be like. That will give us much needed perspective on our own abilities to predict the future in 2100 or “within centuries” beyond that. Certainly, our ancestors’ predictions that Limited Government, individual liberty, and free markets would be essential for prosperity proved prescient. Those predictions stemmed from timeless observations of human nature. Beyond that, however, they had no ability to predict the evolution of our population distributions in coastal areas and our technologies and, thus, had no ability to predict the impact of a 1-inch rise in sea levels.

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Dan Weber August 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm

If people in the last 1800s predicted, say a plague that would wipe out all the horses, and then they all just shrugged their shoulders and then got lucky when the automobile came around, that would look pretty stupid and short-sighted.

Maybe in a century we will be a “nation of careful, small-scale farmers” and none of this will matter. Maybe we will get fusion working, or we will get serious about next-gen fission, or a bunch of other things.

There are reasons to not do whatever the alarmists tell us to do. “The future might be different” doesn’t rank anywhere in the top ten.

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Alexei Sadeski August 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

If you asked someone from the year 1800 to dedicate her life to the improvement of people in the year 2014, what action would that person have chosen to take?

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chuck martel August 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Don’t you understand? Those pre-moderns weren’t even aware of the existence of bacteria. And look at all of the things that have happened since 1800, there’s that history to consider. People are smarter now, too. They can get robots to build cars and they can make magic phones that will guide them to the nearest fish and chips shop. It’s much easier for post-moderns to predict the future, that’s why the winners of horse races are paying so low right now, except for the Arlington Million, Hardest Core, $25, $10.40, $6.00.

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C August 18, 2014 at 11:50 am

“If you asked someone from the year 1800 to dedicate her life to the improvement of people in the year 2014, what action would that person have chosen to take?”

Avoid shooting the last passanger pigeon. Dodo. Tasmanian Tiger. Etc. Most of the other screw ups from the year 1800 are fixable. Those not so much.

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Alexei Sadeski August 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm

And none of those have any impact on our lives whatsoever.

Peter Schaeffer August 17, 2014 at 8:54 pm

JF,

“Foreign riots do show up in American news. However, they have to be rather rather large.”

The London riots were reported years ago. They had a racial aspect made them more topical to American readers. Same for the Swedish and French immigrant riots. Conversely, the Swiss (Zurich) riots of 1980 weren’t big news in the U.S.

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Adrian Ratnapala August 18, 2014 at 3:07 am

The Americans might have seen a racial aspect in it that was less apparent to Londoners. I think the the guy killed who’s killing started it all was black, but most of the rioters were white[1]. There was a class aspect, since the rioters were overwhelmingly young and poor, and most presumably lived in public housing. People fitting that profile are more likely to be black than the average Briton, but they are still very likely to be white.

[1] According to (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_England_riots “The ethnic makeup of the rioters varied in different cities: 76% of those arrested in Manchester were white, while 29% were white and 39% black in London, and the West Midlands was the only area where more than 6% were Asian.”

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Peter Schaeffer August 18, 2014 at 9:51 am

AR,

I was referring to the Brixton riot. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981_Brixton_riot.

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Martin August 18, 2014 at 4:48 am

I have some problems with the framing of the Mann article. He seems to revamp the climate wars as the new Ehrlich/Simon debate – mapping Ehrlich onto McKibben, and Simon onto Nordhaus, and taking them as representatives of their respective fields.

First, Simon – all his admirable traits regardless – was a “self-regulating market” nutcase and early climate “skeptic”, so I don’t exactly get why Nordhaus, who has more or less invented modern climate change economics, deserves to be drawn into this dark corner.

Then, the claim that climate change CBAs do not include catastrophic risk is ridiculous. One can have disagreements how it is accounted for (convexity of the damage function, Weitzman’s gamma discounting under high risk etc), but the claim, as is, is simply wrong. This omission is especially egregious as Nordhaus has risk and uncertainty in the very title of the book Mann cites!

Also, Mann invokes Feynman as intellectual guide for “his” pragmatic, or at least conceivable solution, i.e. going after coal-fired power plants. You wouldn’t know that this is exactly what Nordhaus is arguing for in case of the first-best intrument (the tax) not being available. Also, you would not know that Muller, Nordhaus and Mendelsohn made a major contribution to the externalities of coal – thus setting a basis on which to introduce direct regulations and of course another to evaluate the effectiveness of this measure.

For McKibben, I do not know his view very well. But I doubt that throwing us all back to subsistence farming is a sensible point when it comes to characterize what climate scientists see as sensible options. But if he’s not representative of climate scientists, why bring him up? Granted, there are differences between how climate scientists and how economists see the problem. But then, perhaps one should also mention that Hansen – who recently published i.a. with Jeff Sachs on the topic – is advocating a carbon tax (and a strong expansion of nuclear energy). When an advocate of a 350 ppm target (i.e. negative emissions necessary) and an economist with rather conservative SCC estimates (see Chris Hope, or Stern, or Ackerman, od indeed Weitwman for comparison) agree on the instrument, this is quite something I’d say. How much more informative would the debate be, if Mann had considered the variety of views existing both among cllimate scientists and economists? Anyway, this dichotomy Mann draws seems a bit forced.

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The Other Jim August 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm

4, on predictions of climate doom: “How is one supposed to respond to this kind of news?”

The best response would be to stop issuing Government paychecks to “scientists” with a pre-condition that they only reach certain pre-agreed-upon conclusions.

Of course if we did that, a lot of them would have to go find real jobs.

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Sigivald August 18, 2014 at 4:10 pm

5) kinda saddens me by not being about Michael Gira.

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Krigl August 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

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