Saturday assorted links

by on April 15, 2017 at 12:38 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The butterfly killer is convicted.

2. “At Gujarat Technological University, Sachin Sharma and Dharmesh Shah have designed a visual animal detection system that uses algorithms based on histogram of oriented gradients and cascade classifiers running in OpenCV. Cow training data came from public image datasets (like the KTH Animal Dataset), and in total 900 images of cows were input into the classifier.”  Link here.

3. Excellent Adam Tooze post on the gravity equation and how to think about the course of globalization and trade over distance.  I agree there has been a growth in the relative ability to trade across borders, but still not, given that a border is crossed, a relative boost over greater distances.  The entry of some former “zeros” into the global trading system is a once-and-for-all effect due to internal reforms, and the preferred way of measuring the trade elasticity over distance is I think to exclude such cases.  These issues are all debated in the literature.

4. Canada signs free trade agreement with itself.

5. Advanced distribution jobs keep growing.

1 Ray Lopez April 15, 2017 at 1:13 pm

no comments? What? Butterfly killer? Gotta click on that bait.

2 Ray Lopez April 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm

That CA site for #1 is good, here is another story from yesterday, note the tropical diseases, as is common: “Writer Louis Sarno — who loved the music of Central African Republic’s Bayaka Pygmies so much that he joined their tribe and lived with them for 30 years — died last week in New Jersey. He was 62. Sarno first heard Bayaka music on the radio in Amsterdam in the early 1980s and was so captivated, he travelled to the rainforest village of Yandoumbe to learn more. He spent the next 30 years of his life there, documenting and recording Bayaka music and culture, and writing about his experiences. He even became a member of the tribe, marrying two local women and adopting two sons, according to the New York Times. Medical complications from hepatitis B, malaria, leprosy and cirrhosis brought Sarno back to his childhood home of New Jersey last fall, and he died of liver complication on April 1.”

3 Anonymous April 15, 2017 at 2:30 pm

When I was a kid I kept tropical fish. I thought fish exploring sounded marvellous, until I heard fish explorers tended to go the same way. Suddenly, standing waist deep in an unexplored tropical river didn’t sound so good.

4 Ray Lopez April 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm

#5 – “Advanced distribution”, aka home delivery of everything by bots, drones or UPS: way overrated. It might work in dense, compact countries or regions like Europe, in parts of Brazil (Sao Paulo), parts of China, India, Manila (Philippines), but it will never work in the spread out USA, Australia, Russia, Canada. Hence, it’s good to bet on bricks and mortar like Walmart (WMT), since their profitability is double that of Amazon’s home delivery. WMT also got into the home delivery fad with their purchase of but it’s just rounding error for there sales. Even shoes are now mail ordered (ridiculous) with free shipping, but again spread out countries will force profits to zero.

5 Anonymous April 15, 2017 at 2:23 pm

It may be different elsewhere, but I notice a funny thing in our fairly affluent county. Our traditional stores don’t carry low end products. If you want a cheap coffee grinder you might think they start at $20, even at Target. Go to Amazon and there is a Black and Decker for $8.50

I wonder how much cheaper online markets drive retailers to charge more to “impatient” or “not price sensitive” customers?

6 Some Guy April 15, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Britain is tough in butterfly killers, but more than happy to import millions of Muslim savages into the country so they can kill Brits.

7 Moo cow April 15, 2017 at 11:15 pm


8 prior_test2 April 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm

‘a relative boost over greater distances’

Somebody really needs to tell Prof. Cowen about freight containers, and intermodal transportation involving ocean going ships, rail, barges, and trucks. Of course, the entire process has been going on during his entire life, but that is no reason for a GMU econ dept. faculty member to know anything about it.

And how does one account for the aviation industry, actually? Does Airbus build more A380s for neighbors like Switzerland or Serbia than it does for Japan or UAE? Of course, the same would apply to Boeing, particularly regarding something like freight configured 747s or 777s. Leading to this, that just happens to make blueberries world travellers, and not only to Europe from Chile like the past number of years – ‘What does all this have to do with air freight? Until recently, not much. Chile and China are on opposite sides of the globe, and the cost of shipping Chilean produce to China by air was prohibitive. Who could afford a blueberry that had to be flown almost 20,000 km? And who would want to eat a blueberry that had spent almost a month at sea?

The answer to both those questions was, until recently, “almost nobody.” But China today is not the China of yesterday, and on the day after Christmas, a China Cargo Airlines 777F carrying 100 tonnes of Chilean cherries and blueberries landed in Shenyang’s Taoxian Airport (SHE).

Shenyang is the closest major Chinese city to Santiago and, according to a recent story in China’s Xinhua news service, the China Cargo flight (18,500 km, with a stop in Los Angeles) was just the “first of a regular line of charter flights that will bring fresh fruits from Chile to Shenyang.”

We have grown used to thinking of e-commerce as the big story in China’s air freight industry. But while e-commerce may be the big story, it is not the only story. As China’s middle class continues to grow and prosper, more and more blueberries – and other fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat – will be loaded onto airplanes and flown to the Middle Kingdom.’

9 Ray Lopez April 15, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Longer story shorter: in the land of the $20k cantaloupe (Japan, Asia in general, even in the Philippines a lemon costs a dollar), perishable fresh fruit is flown in. Same in Moscow (when they can’t grow it in huge greenhouses). But junk fruit, which is designed to be shipped long distances, tastes like cardboard. I rather have the local product when possible. It tastes better than the expensive imports.

10 Li Zhi April 15, 2017 at 2:48 pm

#2 Slashdot today mentions a article on the ability of “hackers” to fool A.I. vision. Since they aren’t based on ‘correct’ models, even though results can be accurate, minor changes (to us) make huge differences to them. Slashdot mentions a set of eyeglasses which ‘worn’ by actress Reese Witherspoon caused the A.I. to identify her as Russell Crowe. (I didn’t read bbc piece, and am guessing the universe of interest was a set of photographs). These systems aren’t comprehensibly reductionist, so they’ll never be foolproof. At least not until our A.I. overlords take over the programming.

11 Jacques René Giguère April 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm

“Canada signs free trade deal with itself”: The Economist deplores that Ontario requires open front seat on construction sites toilets while Alberta does not. Given that they are 2000 kilometres away from each other, I presume very few said toilets would move between the two provinces anyway. The benefit of free trade is somewhat over blown for goods that wouldn’t move in any case…

12 Roy LC April 15, 2017 at 8:59 pm

Well of course they can just both go buy it from the States, but it is a huge pain in the… and it is why the whole retail sector is just cartels, ripping off anyone who doesn’t have time to drive south.

13 Mark Thorson April 15, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Where are we in Dot-Com Bubble 2? Is this 1998 or 2000? Uber lost >$2.8B last year, and Tesla is doubling down on massive money-losing investments. Symptomatic of late-stage bubble are dingbat pipedreams getting funded (e.g., driverless cars and drone delivery).

A theory I heard about the Kondratieff Wave is that it occurs every 2 generation times. The next generation after a wave is cautious because they remember their parent’s experience, but the generation after that does not have memories growing up listening to dinnertable conversation about the panic or the depression. I speculate the mechanism is slightly different in this wave phenomenon — the entrepreneurs who are perpetrating startups today are not the same ones who were doing it last time. The winning entrepreneurs last time are the VC’s this time, and the losers are off doing something else. This is how the institutional memory gets erased (or distorted by selection), with a wave period of 15-20 years.

14 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ April 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm

I hate on wave theory, and one big reason is that not every industry is in the same generational cycle. Social media engineers are too young to remember the dot com crash. Petroleum engineers were too jaded to be impressed by it.

A superposition of many wave trains creates a “confused sea” which does not have predictable waveforms.

15 Mark Thorson April 15, 2017 at 10:53 pm

The superposition of waves on the ocean does not preclude the existence of a tide. I think we are near or at high tide. This may be the jump-the-shark moment:

Dated April 6, it does not appear to have been intended as an April Fool’s joke.

16 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ April 15, 2017 at 11:54 pm

Tides have simple mechanics and highly developed/accurate models. That makes them very different from (imo superstitious) claims that we are “due” for this or that in long, imprecise, and constantly rewritten timescales.

Is there a table somewhere of past falsifiable claims, and predictive results?

Nothing like 10,000 successful tide predictions, that’s for sure.

17 Ray Lopez April 16, 2017 at 12:04 am

+1 to Mark Thorson. I (heart) wave theory, unlike give-it-up-Pepe-the-frog ASCII art poster, because I firmly believe human affairs are cyclical. And most heavy duty machinery has a roughly ~40-60 year = 1 Kondratieff Wave period in depreciation. That includes buildings too. Even technology (Silicon is going on 50 years now, will fibre optics replace it? or some new DNA computing material or carbon-based material?). So the K-wave makes physical sense too. I asked TC by email to blog on K-waves but he never got around to it. It takes a brave economist to mention K-waves, since it’s crank territory. Not that TC is not brave mind you, but he’s known to be a center mass not fringe target shooter, kind of like the David Brooks of economics, always going for the consensus without too much speculation.

18 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ April 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

Isn’t that like saying “since cars have finite life, car sales should come in waves?”

No, people need and use cars differently, and car sales are more related to the general economy than their life-cycles.

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