Thursday assorted links

by on November 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. “Audible’s new feature lets you skip right to the most erotic part of romance novels…“Take me to the good part” lets listeners jump to the juicy sections of 110 romance titles in the company’s collection. These include beloved tropes like a couple’s first meeting, their innuendo-heavy banter, a marriage proposal, and, of course, sex scenes.” Link here.

2. What Southeast Asia would look like if every proposed railway were built.  And more information here.

3. Profile of Jay Powell: “He doesn’t drink much, plays golf and the guitar, and has an odd ability to repeat people’s sentences backward to them, a quirk former colleagues say is a reminder of his smarts — and how closely he listens.”

4. One of my favorite Ben Thompson pieces, this one on Tech goes to Washington.

5. Eugenics 2.0?  How far are we?

6. The “right to be forgotten” may not help you much.

1 rayward November 2, 2017 at 12:39 pm

2. The map has one big omission: China’s rail network. It’s a big omission because the southeast Asia rail network is being build to connect southeast Asia to China. Here is a map of the European rail network: Those crazy Asians and Europeans and their rail. I’ll be traveling along the east coast over the holidays. In my car, of course, since rail in the U.S. hardly exists. I-95 is like a parking lot over the holidays, so it will be both frustrating and dangerous. I’m pleased we don’t waste money on such a silly thing as rail.

2 MMK November 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm

China is not in SE Asia…

Back to the topic, this is a cool map but people are going to be misled because they thing SE Asia railroads are like European railroads. Last year I went to Vietnam and Switzerland within 2 months of each other and my rail experience could not have been any more different. Vietnam rail is like a 19th century experience.

3 clockwork_prior November 2, 2017 at 4:00 pm

‘China is not in SE Asia’

Well, in the same sense that Russia is not in Europe, when viewed as a whole. Nonetheless, this part of China is pretty much in SE Asia –

4 Careless November 2, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Well, in the same sense that Russia is not in Europe

Aside from the fact that a substantial portion of Russia actually is in Europe, and a substantial majority of their population is in Europe.

5 Haywood Sterling November 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm

5. Humans should have the courage to make themselves better. I never understood why so many systems of “ethics” seem to privilege putting oneself at a disadvantage.

6 Cyrus November 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Why one may wish to pursue one’s own best interest is not a topic that requires much motivation. The converse is less intuitive, so bears more ink, all other things being considered.

If we turn from why to how, self help seems perennially the bestseller versus self sacrifice.

7 Troll Me November 2, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Agglomerations of individuals making decisions as though they had no effect on any other thing can result in really dumb stuff.

There are plenty of socio-cultural reasons to not want to have an arms race via mating selection, among other things.

8 djw November 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm


You are a few billion years late on that one.

9 djw November 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm

Or at least several hundreds of millions of years.

10 chuck martel November 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm

5. “Height is currently the easiest trait to predict. It’s determined mostly by genes, and it’s always recorded in population databases. …….Even if they’re accurate on the average, for individuals there’s no guarantee of pinpoint precision. What’s more, environment has as big an impact on most traits as genes do.”

OK, which is it?

11 chuck martel November 2, 2017 at 1:03 pm

It’s an accepted fact that western humans, at least, are taller on average now than in the past. Generally this is believed to be the result of better nutrition. Or do taller people tend to mate with other tall people?

12 Ryan Turner November 2, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Its almost fully controlled by genetics, dependent on the subject receiving enough nutrition to reach that height.

In first world countries genetics is a very good predictor of height, but as you get poorer access to food will influence height, which makes a guess based purely on genetics less accurate.

There are hints that intelligence follows a similar pattern, where nutrition/education/stimulus is required to reach your potential, which is genetic.

13 dearieme November 2, 2017 at 1:23 pm

I was amused by “The model predicted people’s height from their DNA data to within three or four centimeters”.

What amused me was the lack of a comparison e.g. how well can you predict it knowing the average of the parents’ height and the sex of the child?

14 Adrian Ratnapala November 4, 2017 at 8:54 am

So you mean that genes might not predict anything beyond what is predictable from well known genetic factors?

15 chuck martel November 2, 2017 at 1:29 pm

So you’re saying that over time, in first world countries, taller people are, indeed, mating with other tall people.

16 A Truth Seeker November 2, 2017 at 2:11 pm

No, because a rising tide lifts all boats.

17 Tanturn November 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm

It’s not a contradiction for those of us who see in more than black and white.

18 li November 2, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Gosh, all this blabber and yet no one has (yet) admitted that men significantly above average height have a shorter life-expectancy. Google it, its well known. How is being dead an advantage? Oh wait, tall men earn more, and I’d assume have a larger pool of women to reproduce with. So, which is better, short long lives or tall short lives? Or is it about your impact factor on the gene pool? Or about whether you can dunk? Man, I’m so confused! It’s almost like the numbskulls here have zero ability to distinguish among the multitude of different definitions for “better/improve”. And then let’s discuss lower back pain vs height. Hint to the clueless: Eugenics as taught and practiced in the early 20th Century West might have a consensus definition – but it must be a context dependent one. (I expect there is no one clear consensus definition, but then again, my knowledge of 20th Century social trends is small.) There are a LOT of good things about selection, both natural and conscious (assuming conscious selection isn’t natural seems a bit dubious). Shouldn’t all the SJW here agree that if they’re male, then only the best male should contribute the male’s 23 chromosomes? And that once all 3.5 billion men are ranked, than only if everyone above you in the rankings refuses, should you contribute your own DNA. Perhaps a lottery with each male’s dna be rated on a 1-1000 scale and those willing to contribute, be given a probability of inseminating your wife proportional to their rank (normalized to the distribution). That would put some diversity into the system and even allow the legal father to have a chance. I suppose for a given father, there should be a cut-off, so that males substantially below him on the scale would not be allowed in the lottery.
Given that the US birth rate isn’t at replacement level, women should also be ranked – like Roe vs Wade, a three tier system: 1. Must reproduce 3 or more children, 2. May produce 1-3 children and 3. May produce at most 1 child. I suppose we should also establish a payment, tax deduction, or tax credit to encourage this.

19 chuck martel November 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

“Eugenics is a movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race.” What would you call it?

20 dearieme November 2, 2017 at 1:18 pm

I’d call it ‘Literally not Hitler’ or some variant thereof.

21 The Cuckmeister-General November 2, 2017 at 4:43 pm

How do you proposed to improve the genetic composition of the human race when you are a proud supporter of Cuckoldry?

22 wait November 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm

There is no “movement” here insisting on parents doing anything to improve the genetic composition of the human race. So far it is just an advancement of science that gives parents more options.

Also should be noted Tyler didn’t call it Eugenics in this case–the editor/author did.

23 Benny Lava November 2, 2017 at 2:09 pm

That is an inaccurate definition of eugenics. From Merriman Webster:

science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed

Eugenics is about controlling whom may reproduce. Is that the same thing as gene editing?

24 XVO November 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Eugenics is not only about controlling who may reproduce, the definition you provide admits that. Editing out genes that cause diseases would improve hereditary qualities. It doesn’t say “exclusively by control of human mating” it says “as by control of human mating”, which is an example of eugenics.

Looked at another way, even by your exclusive definition this process of selecting the best embryo is eugenics. Do the embryos not chosen for implementation get to reproduce?

25 The Cuckmeister-General November 2, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Your support of cuckoldry will lead to the doom of humanity. Turn your back on your wickedness by stamping out your cuckoldry.

26 Benny Lava November 2, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Historically there was no other way to go about eugenics than mating selection. It isn’t about the results but the process. Otherwise we would just call it “dating”.

27 The Cuckmeister-General November 2, 2017 at 5:14 pm

And yet you continue to promote cuckoldry as an acceptable lifestyle when it is truely the greatest of sins. Begone you cuck!

28 chuck martel November 2, 2017 at 1:27 pm

4. The nameplate at the senator’s place reads “MRS. Feinstein”. What’s up with that? Do all the female legislators have similar signage or do others use the “Ms.” thing?

29 rayward November 2, 2017 at 1:36 pm

3. I have to say that narrowing the choices for Fed chair between Powell and Taylor is comparable to narrowing the choices for a date between an accounting major and a playboy bunny. As between Powell and Taylor I’d pick Powell but as between the accounting major and the playboy bunny I’d pick the playboy bunny. I know that is inconsistent, but that’s just me. A fling with a playboy bunny seems a lot more exciting than a fling with an accounting major, but when it comes to the Fed, I’m not really looking for a fling or excitement but someone with a steady hand. What Taylor had going for him as the choice over Powell is that Taylor’s inclinations would be to take rising asset prices as something to be mitigated and not promoted. What Taylor had going against him as the choice over Powell is that Taylor’s inclinations would be to take rising asset prices as something to be mitigated and not promoted.

30 Zach November 2, 2017 at 1:50 pm

#4 — There is an interesting, if sobering comparison between Cruz and Franken.

Cruz thinks, with reason, that he would be the target of company-imposed censorship, and opposes it.

Franken thinks, also with reason, that he would be the beneficiary, and demands it.

This has the makings of a vicious fight, and I wonder if the tech guys realize what they’re in for.

31 Zach November 2, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Whether or not they deliver it in reality, Facebook, Twitter and Google offer the illusion of free and unmediated speech. I think it would be very tricky for them to sell the idea that your posts on Facebook are really an example of Facebook speaking, and that therefore Facebook has the right to approve or disapprove of the message.

32 Tanturn November 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Referring to it by a euphemism implies it is a bad thing. “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” should be our attitude.

33 Brian Moore November 2, 2017 at 2:54 pm

On #4, I’m not sure this is accurate:

“What Kennedy surely realized — and what Stretch, apparently, did not — is that Facebook had already effectively answered Kennedy’s question: the very act of investigating the accounts used by Russian intelligence entailed doing the sort of sleuthing that Kennedy wanted Stretch to say was possible. Facebook dived deep into an account by choice, came to understand everything about it, and then shut it down and delivered the results to Congress. It follows that Facebook could — not would, but could — do that to Senator Graham or anyone else.”

Not necessarily, because the search criteria for each case is different. Lots of customer data is made anonymous. If told to find “Senator Graham’s” FB record, it actually might not be possible to identify which it was, because the only search criteria I have is his name. But if told to find “account that purchased ads that said XY or Z that we’ve subsequently identified as problematic” then that would obviously be possible, because they keep sales records, and they are linked by account # to the ads.

34 Adrian Ratnapala November 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm

So you are saying that if you are the owner of the world;s biggest, most sophisticated, database connecting peoples names to profiles on those people, then it will be difficult to identify the profile belonging to a paritcular name?

35 Troll Me November 2, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Do you know if there is some possible means by which some entity somewhere in the United States could possibly identify if the following is in fact the Facebook account of Senator Graham?

36 Brian Boglitz November 2, 2017 at 3:45 pm

On #1 – where would “Take me to the good part” take you in The Complacent Class?

37 The Cuckmeister-General November 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Why do you believe it is okay to be a cuckold? Why do you not embrace traditional values and not allow blackmen to sleep with your wife?

38 Sam the Sham November 3, 2017 at 6:55 pm

The best parts are always read by Gilbert Gottfried.

39 Rick Hyatt November 2, 2017 at 4:31 pm

This isn’t genetic modification, this is *selection*. No embryo’s genes are being changed in the slightest bit; it’s no more ‘genetic modification’ than choosing to marry a tall guy rather than a short guy is ‘genetic modification’.

> OK, which is it?

Depends on the trait. Also a bit of equivocation on ‘environment’ there: say ‘environment’ and people tend to think ‘parents feeding you junk food and the local school district’ but ‘environment’ here really means more like ‘random infections of you but not your siblings, and random mutations as your embryo divides’.

> Or do taller people tend to mate with other tall people?

There is assortative mating but that’s not particularly important in the absence of any reproductive advantage; there is selection for height, but it’s sex-specific. Tall men benefit from being tall, but women benefit from being short, so the selection is partially neutralized. What the net effect on polygenic scores is, is unclear. IIRC, the Farmingham study indicates the net is towards decreasing but the HRS polygenic scores show an increase, so who knows. One would have to look into it in more detail to know for sure.

> What amused me was the lack of a comparison e.g. how well can you predict it knowing the average of the parents’ height and the sex of the child?

That comparison is irrelevant in embryo selection. By definition in embryo selection, where you are comparing siblings, the mid-parent estimator is identical for all embryos and hence useless. (You could of course combine the LASSO estimator with mid-parental estimators and a sex adjustment to get a better combined population predictor than any of those 3, but I’m not sure why you would want to bother.)

40 chuck martel November 2, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Why do women benefit from being short?

41 msgkings November 2, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Same reason men benefit from being tall. The overwhelming preference of both (heterosexual) genders is for the man to be taller than the woman. Like everything there are exceptions, but the general case is tall men and short women will have more potential partners.

42 The Cuckmeister-General November 2, 2017 at 6:03 pm

The cuckolds who populate this comment section would like to see the extinction of the white race as they indulge in their cuck fetishes.

43 Donald Pretari November 2, 2017 at 4:39 pm

#3… “Jay doesn’t promote himself like so many do in Washington. He likes to do the unglamorous jobs.”

Then let him be the janitor. He’s not qualified to be the Fed Chairman.

44 XVO November 2, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Because it’s not actually happening yet?

45 The Cuckmeister-General November 2, 2017 at 5:35 pm

You sir, are a cuckold. Why do you continue to poison the world with your cuckoldry?

46 Albigensian November 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm

6: “Scholars and practitioners debate whether to expand the scope of the right to be forgotten the right to have certain links removed from search results to encompass global search results”

The right to alter the past to meet the wants of the present (where have I heard that before)? If you can alter your birth certificate even if it wasn’t wrong when it was written, why should you not have the right to edit your past to better suit your present self?

“Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place …

“Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us”

— T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday

47 li November 2, 2017 at 9:50 pm

#5. So, selecting which embryo changes the child’s IQ????? What. utter. rubbish. I find it difficult to believe this tripe was published by someone affiliated with MIT. I predict that due to all these sorts of interventions, that 10 years from now, average IQ will be ~3 points higher. (see Flynn Effect).

48 Careless November 2, 2017 at 10:57 pm

So, selecting which embryo changes the child’s IQ????? What. utter. rubbish

Lol yes. What are you, a creationist? Humans could never have evolved intelligence if differing embryos didn’t have different genetic potentials for intelligence

I predict that due to all these sorts of interventions, that 10 years from now, average IQ will be ~3 points higher. (see Flynn Effect).

Ok. Let’s bet.

*spoiler: the Flynn effect stopped in Western countries a while ago. Be sure to actually read on the Flynn Effect before making predictions of this sort*

49 November 2, 2017 at 11:03 pm

#2 A more colorful version

Note the importance of the Bangkok hub. It is easy to understand why Thailand dropped the Japanese plan to build a line that stop at the Thai borders. There are numerous lines that cut across the Malay peninsular bypassing Singapore, and also the planned Kra Cannal and a new deep sea port at Malacca, that could be the price for Singapore to host a supply base for US aircraft carriers. This is dispite Malaysia already has a modern port at the nearby Klang.

Views from China,

Views from Singapore,

And the compliment port on the east coast,

“””At a recent forum, Universiti Malaya’s Institute of China Studies
research fellow Dr Zhang Miao said that the ECRL could alter the
traditional trade routes that go through Singapore, since China’s
uncertain diplomatic relation with the island republic forces it to
explore other alternatives.”””

It could make sense for Japan to build a deep sea port in Philippine. Instead Japan had decided to build one in Bangladesh, far out of its shipping routes. Philippine’s change of mind is obvious. Korea tries to build a railway line from Vietnam trying hard to connect to that built by China in Laos. Good luck to that when it is 70% owned by the Chinese. The rail from Vietnam seems to be going nowhere fast.

50 November 2, 2017 at 11:37 pm

#3 Trump wants to increase employment, increases defence budgets, builds the wall, and drive the budget deficits higher. That can only be accomplished with the interest rates staying low and the Fed purchasing the treasury bonds.

Yellen did a good job on lowering the interest rates and thus increase the employment rates, especially at just before the presidential elections and that alone might have reduced the supports for DEM in favour for Trump. However that was then. She talked herself out of a second term.

It was summarized clearly by “Quantitative easing should be used to write off government debt”


51 November 2, 2017 at 11:43 pm

On Oct 13, I speculated that Trump blew a dog whistle to give the potential candidates a chance to change their stands and in the process forcing his preferred pick to move closer to him.

“””Mr. Powell, by contrast, has defended the utility of the bond-buying campaign and argued that the new mechanics allow the Fed to control interest rates more effectively.”””

“””Mr. Taylor also favors restraints on other aspects of the Fed’s post-crisis response, including the bond-buying campaign it undertook known as quantitative easing.”””

“””Mr. Trump’s first pick for the board, Randal K. Quarles, the Fed’s vice chairman of supervision, has expressed support for Mr. Taylor’s approach to monetary policy.””” He did not seem to have heard the whistle.

52 November 3, 2017 at 2:36 am

Neither did the MSMs nor Krugman who all seemed to riducule Trump. “””#2. Somebody should consider this picture. Trump is not entirely wrong on this one.“”” Cowen got it.

53 Benny Lava November 3, 2017 at 10:43 am

Wow Tyler deleted my post. I was first and now it is gone. No explanation?

54 felon November 3, 2017 at 4:57 pm

6. So far changing my name has worked well enough.

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