Saturday assorted links

by on February 20, 2016 at 12:31 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Granic February 20, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Prison cookbooks are all the rage right now, they definitely published at the right time.

2 Baltimore February 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm

#6 Taylor states “Perhaps even more to the point, there had been prizes offered for a solution to the longitude problem for centuries by Spain, Venice, Holland, and others–and all those prizes had failed.” Minor point, but is it really fair to say they “failed”? It might be more accurate to say “and individuals working to win those prizes were unsuccessful.” Unless, of course, there is some evidence to suggest that all of the work stimulated by the offering of the prizes was worthless and had no value.

3 Baltimore February 20, 2016 at 1:18 pm

#7 “Each justice is either liberal or conservative, and stays that way. Justices actually get more liberal over time, but this is a fair approximation. Democratic presidents appoint liberal justices; Republican presidents appoint conservative justices.”

Chortle. Ever heard of Brennan, Burger, Blackmun, Potter Stewart, John Paul Stevens, or Souter? Personally, Marc Thiessen seems more persuasive:

4 Aaron J February 20, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Fair enough- not sure why Burger is on that list though.

But his point still stands.

5 Aaron J February 20, 2016 at 1:37 pm

E. Harding- that’s not the proper inference to draw from Baltimore’s edit. It would suggest that its harder to peg a justice’s ideology/judicial philosophy than we believe, and that therefore this confirmation battle is less important than we believe.

6 Baltimore February 20, 2016 at 1:46 pm

I put Burger on the list because of his opinions on abortion, capital punishment, religious establishment, and school desegregation might be categorized by some as “liberal” but, yes, you are correct, most would probably label him “conservative.”

7 prior_test1 February 20, 2016 at 1:56 pm

‘Republican presidents appoint conservative justices’

Like that noted conservative, Chief Justice Warren –

8 Careless February 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm

And then there’s this quote “Democrats are also historically more likely to appoint minority judges—36% under Obama compared with 18% under Bush—who, statistically, pass away at younger ages. ”

No. Asians and “Hispanics” live longer than whites, and already old black people outlive similarly already old white people.

Really stupid mistake to make,

9 Doug February 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm

In general most people tend to become more liberal with age. People also become more liberal once they’ve “reached the top” and no longer feel the competitive pressure of a career ladder. Construal level theory has a lot to say about this.

10 JB February 20, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Due to the ideological sorting, rightward drift, and improved tactical acumen of the Republican Party since 1990, I think the historical trend of R-appointed judges turning liberal is unlikely to continue.

Alito is firmly conservative, Roberts only sides with liberals when faced with Republican attempts to politicize the court, Thomas is Thomas. The next republican-nominated Supreme will be in their mold.

11 BC February 20, 2016 at 1:21 pm

#7) Before seeing this graph, I might have thought that replacing Scalia in 2016 favored liberals and replacing him in 2017 favored conservatives, obviously. The graph, however, seems to indicate that replacing Scalia in 2017 is actually neutral, favoring neither liberals nor conservatives, in two senses.

First, the chance of the liberal majority is closer to 50%, i.e., liberals and conservatives are roughly equally likely to have a majority. That’s not necessarily “neutral” though, because liberals might argue that a higher probability of majority arose through past election results, and that was the intent of voters.

The second and more important sense of neutrality, though, is that the 2017 curve more nearly approximates the curve that existed immediately before Scalia’s death, i.e., what we (and voters) would have expected, given all presidential and senatorial elections up until this point. In fact, the two curves are nearly identical after 2030. The 2017 result is most neutral in the sense that it causes the least deviation from voters’ expectations as they would have existed at the time of voting.

12 BC February 20, 2016 at 1:54 pm

I guess the way to understand these curves is to first ask what would be the most neutral result, most neutral in the sense of most closely matching voters’ expectations at the the time of voting. That would be for Obama to replace Scalia with a conservative judge whose life expectancy at the time of the last election was very close to Scalia’s. That would result in the gray curve. Of course, that’s highly unlikely to happen. Of the two options, replace Scalia in 2016 and replace him in 2017, replacing him in 2017 is closer to the neutral result.

13 Nathan W February 20, 2016 at 9:33 pm

I don’t really understand the the argument I’ve seen appear in a few places about “it causes the least deviation from voters’ expectations as they would have existed at the time of voting.”

People don’t know when the judge with retire or die, but regardless they elect a president who has this authority. No offense intended, but it comes across to me as grasping at straws on the part of the Republicans to justify block the nomination, which apparently they also have a legal (but moral?) right to do. I guess their allegiance is theoretically to the people who voted them into Congress, and this is the only sense in which I can see the blocking as “democratic”.

14 JB February 20, 2016 at 9:42 pm

The graph assumes that all elections are coin flips.

In actuality, the Democrats have a significant advantage heading into 2016, and may even capture the Senate, so there is less difference there. Waiting until 2017 is a higher-variance strategy (taking the likelihood of adding another conservative from zero to possible, and adding the likelihood of adding a liberal firebrand), but the expected value of the court will change little.

15 Ray Lopez February 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Lemme read and summarize these links so you don’t have to…

#1 – North Korean commissioned statutes of Big Men in Africa, who typically point to the sky to make a point.

#2 – Shorter take: the US Great Depression was a financial panic that lasted until such time that the public was reassured by FDR and it burnt itself out in 1934, at about the same time the USA also went off the managed Gold Standard. People like Sumner confuse the latter with the cessation of the GD, which is just a coincidence (Argentina went off the gold standard just after 1929 and it did not help, by way of example).

#3 – old news: Bentham prescribed lobster for inmates due to its nutritional value.

#4 – goats giving fresh milk for sale (yawn)

#5 – “Tyson worked for Adam Swart, a recent UCLA grad, who runs a company called “Crowds on Demand,” which hires actors to attend politicians’ campaign meetings, and to deliver scripted dialog in the guise of concerned citizens” – that’s it. They also hire actors in Asia to be professional grievers in funerals.

#6 – Timothy Taylor is not a “CONVERSABLE economist” (sic) as his site claims, as he has BLOCKED COMMENTS ON HIS SITE!!! That’s so pre-2005. What a clown. And he references a historian who makes numerous errors: the Longitude Prize to John Harrison was indeed not awarded on time (sic, no pun), but that is not the fault of giving prizes, but the fault of the committee. Also the ‘longitude problem’ was simultaneously solved using “older methods” involving sky charts at about the same time Harrison solved it using a better clock. This again does not fault prizes, it just shows people look for substitute solutions. And the fact the revolutionary French government mishandled giving a prize awarded earlier by the monarchist government does not invalidate prizes (changes of government typically resort to this tactic). Likewise, the daguerreotype photograph matter only shows patents are too weak for pioneer inventions, and need to be lengthened (“A policy related to prizes is to buy out the inventor’s patent. A classic historical example here is when the French government in 1839 bought the rights from Louis Daguerre for his daguerrotype photographic process. Inconveniently, Khan points out that Daguerre never had a patent. Instead, he used powerful patrons to lobby with the French government for a payment, on the grounds that getting a patent was too expensive and difficult, and if the French didn’t pay him for the invention, some other country would. As soon as the French paid him, he then applied for a patent in England, and tried to sell the rights to the British government–who refused to bite.”). The fact the Brits ‘refused to bite” shows they were trying to get the invention “for free”, figuring some copy cat would import it into the UK ‘for free’. This again is not the failure of prizes, just gamesmanship by people who want to steal an invention for free.

#7 – US Supreme Court judges live a long time.

Time to hit ENTER…

16 Egoist February 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

The boring answer to #1 is NK’s number 1 export is coal to China. But this won’t last long. In 2015 coal consumption in China fell 3-4% and imports of coal crashed 30-40%. By 2020 there may not be any coal imported into China. What a reversal.

17 JWatts February 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm

So, in the next few years giant sculptures for African despots will be the biggest export?

18 Mark Thorson February 20, 2016 at 8:32 pm

The Koch brothers are rather modest people, but it would be cool if they contracted for collosal statues of themselves for institutions they donate to. Of course, there is that boycott against DPRK.

19 JB February 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm

On a unit level, they are by definition, depending how giant they are.

Coal gets exported in individual chunks, each much smaller than a sufficiently-large statue.

20 Mark Thorson February 20, 2016 at 8:25 pm

It’s “biggest” export, not “highest by dollar value”. Unless they’ve got a shipbuilding industry, these statues may indeed be their biggest export.

21 too hot for MR February 20, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Concur that Tyler stumbled on a narrow view of “biggest.” If not literally, then figuratively, and by figuratively I mean literally figuratively and figuratively figuratively.

22 Barkley Rosser February 20, 2016 at 4:51 pm

A still very large DPRK export flow that was a one point its largest is kimchi to Japan mostly consumed by its rather large North Korean descended and often supporting community..

23 carlolspln February 20, 2016 at 7:13 pm
24 Jan February 20, 2016 at 6:44 pm

1) J: That probably is literally true, as these are physically much larger than other things NK produces.

25 Nathan W February 20, 2016 at 9:45 pm

1) After all the monuments to Dear Leader and other heros to the anti-imperial cause, perhaps they have a comparative advantage in something finally?

3) Bentham was a utilitarian. While “cheap and nourishing” are good attributes, did he ever care if it tasted good? I suggest that Ayurvedic cooking would satisfy the first two criteria in addition to being tasty.

4) I’m presently living in China, and still don’t touch the milk here after the scandals years ago. I’m not inclined towards raw milk, however, so I think I will still steer clear even if such entrepreneurs arise in the city I’m living in.

5) Markets are good for innovation in lots of ways, but sometimes there is a clear and pressing social “need” for advancement in a certain area of research where results seem attainable, but markets have for whatever reason not inclined themselves to address the situation. High development costs but very low marginal production costs could lead private actors to steer clearing out of the assumption that they might not reap a sufficient share of the total social gains. In other cases, the product may primarily benefit groups who for whatever reason do not presently have a high capacity to pay, and so the government can achieve major social gains in providing carrots for advances in research towards such products (e.g., malaria solution).

If the prize is offered for something that is not currently technically feasible, this is not evidence that prizes don’t work, rather, that they don’t work all the time.

Democracy in many places was also highly flawed in the 18th and 19th centuries, but this didn’t stop us from trying to make it better. Perhaps the lesson is that we can do prizes better, not that they are useless? However, a preference for prizes as a means of technological development does not seem sensible.

26 February 20, 2016 at 10:20 pm


“When £10,000 isn’t a good incentive”

27 Chip February 20, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Loosely tied to link on innovation, here’s something Martin Ford said in a talk about AI this week.

In 1998, the economy needed 194 billion hours of labor.

In 2013, the population had jumped by 40 million people and yet the demand for labor was unchanged at 194 billion hours.

I wonder how Alex addresses this declining demand for labor with support for a bigger population of people offering mostly unskilled labor.

28 Dulimbai February 20, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Did this article come up here? Science proves speed reading is a myth.

So I guess we now know what Prof. Cowen does with all those books.

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