Monday assorted links

by on January 29, 2018 at 11:44 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. A left-wing take on Dalits and caste and class struggle.

2. Dan Drezner’s five most important (not the same as “influential”?) public intellectuals: Coates, Gessen, Fukuyama, Chernow, and Autor.  I think he considerably underrates how much Bezos and other tech people are respected for vision, execution, and depth of understanding, rather than just having a lot of money.

3. Chinese train station built in nine hours.

4. Was Rome or Han China more technologically advanced?

5. “This futuristic house actually gets stronger as hurricanes pass through.

1 Mark January 29, 2018 at 12:05 pm

#2 – he also underestimates the extent to which money measures influence, intellectual capacity, knowledge of industry, knowledge of human behaviour, etc. The influence of the other intellectuals he mentions can arguably be measured by number of peer reviewed publications and citations. For tech leaders, it’s arguably measured by money, which they accumulated through deep understanding of the marketplace among many other skills – is that really such a bad measure?

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2 amartya sen January 29, 2018 at 10:46 pm

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

How many Nazi’s learned Anschaaung? And for what parables equals દૃષ્ટાંતો

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3 So Much For Subtlety January 30, 2018 at 2:25 am

What is the evidence they have accumulated anything through a deep understanding of the market place? Maybe they were just lucky. A million monkeys working at a million typewriters producing a million Apps and one of them is bound to be Twitter.

The mistake is to think they are public intellectuals. Yes, Bezos is very rich. He is certainly very smart. But he is not an intellectual. What he trades in is not intellectual opinions. He has a tech company. If he has had an interesting idea outside of his business he has kept it very much to himself so he is not a public intellectual either.

Or to put it another way, the person who invented the concept of a micro-aggression is almost certainly a public intellectual. Which is to say Amazon has made the world a better place and most public intellectuals emphatically do not. But Silicon Valley is trembling in fear of a small number of people who identify as female with blue hair and studs in their lips, who have heard of this public intellectual. They are willing to destroy their business models out of fear of said blue haired Suicide Squad. We know they do not believe any of it because they do not practice it, but they have to sacrifice to Moloch or else.

So who is the more influential?

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4 Alistair January 30, 2018 at 7:54 am

I’ve seen stuff which suggests the talent to luck ratio of successful CEO’s could be as little as 1-to-4. (i.e. skill explains about 1/5th of the total variance in outcomes)

Of course, they have a lot of luck and skill.

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5 dan1111 January 30, 2018 at 5:50 am

Perhaps an intellectual is someone who produces ideas only. If you produce ideas and accomplish stuff, you’re no longer an intellectual; you’re a stuff-accomplisher.

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6 stephan January 29, 2018 at 12:05 pm

1) Ta-Nehisi Coates: Any book or long-form essay of his becomes the topic of conversation among elites. That’s influence.

So it seems he also conflates importance with influence. They should be correlated to some extent. Why would someone with no influence be considered important ?

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7 Art Deco January 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm

That’s influence.

No, that’s a diversion. Coates doesn’t have a variegated set of interests and it’s difficult to see how the trajectory followed by discussions of race relations differs from what it would have been sans Coates.

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8 DevOps Dad January 29, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Does Mr. Coates feel Chinese hip hop music artists are entitled to rap, unlike white artists, now that hip hop has been banned in China?

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9 Anonymous Bosch January 29, 2018 at 3:11 pm

> “it’s difficult to see how the trajectory followed by discussions of race relations differs from what it would have been sans Coates.”

Sans Coates, one would at least have been spared sentences like “But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.”

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10 Chrbes A. January 29, 2018 at 4:35 pm

So that is what we have become, characters from a Lovecraftean story.

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11 Roy LC January 29, 2018 at 11:20 pm

I think by way of D&D

12 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 11:22 pm

Go bears!

13 Alistair January 30, 2018 at 7:57 am

Make Yog-Soggoth Great Again!

14 Alistair January 30, 2018 at 7:56 am

“Glowing Amulet”

Remember the Orb of Corfefe?

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15 rayward January 29, 2018 at 12:11 pm

5. During hurricanes, most houses are damaged because either a tree falls on the house or rising water floods the house. I get the impression that this futuristic house was designed by someone who has never experienced the direct effects of a hurricane. Then again, I also get the impression that those who design responses to financial crises have never experienced the direct effects of a financial crisis. Responses to financial crises, like responses to hurricanes, are more the product of one’s imagination (and biases) than actual experience. As for houses that can withstand hurricanes, I suggest two things to protect the house: one, cut down all the trees in the area and, two, design a house that has the ability to levitate (to avoid rising water). The first isn’t that difficult or expensive, but the second, well, good luck with that. I should point out that our flood insurance program actually assumes that houses can be built so that they are suspended in the air above the rising water. If one dosn’t know what I mean, one hasn’t been directly affected by a hurricane.

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16 JWatts January 29, 2018 at 2:06 pm

“I should point out that our flood insurance program actually assumes that houses can be built so that they are suspended in the air above the rising water.”

Flood insurance is designed to spread the cost of catastrophic floods among multiple users and multiple years. It strongly encourages you not to build in a high risk flood plain.

So, yes, if not building in a flood/coastal plain is levitating, then smart builders mastered the concept millennia ago.

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17 mkt42 January 29, 2018 at 5:47 pm

5 was a mess. That bit about hurricanes always rotating counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere makes no sense; it simply means that the wind will come from say the east initially — and then after the eye passes, it will come from the west. How this house is supposed to magically exploit the direction of the wind is inexplicable.

And the house is on a strong foundation, but is going to somehow dig itself deeper during a hurricane? (Also, you typically want to be on high ground, not low, during a hurricane.)

And common sense tells us that there are simpler and cheaper and equally effective counter measures, namely building your house stronger and elevating it. Better yet, don’t build in a hurricane flood zone as JWatts says (however that might expand the prohibited zone to an unacceptably large degree).

And those wonderful storm drains won’t do much good when the storm surge raises the entire water level of the Gulf to the house’s level.

I don’t know anything about GreenMatters.com but the article was so silly I was wondering if it was from the Onion — maybe GreenOnion.com?

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18 Roy LC January 29, 2018 at 11:32 pm

That rotation stuff is awful, my hometown newspaper explains this stuff in a pull out section every year at the beginning of hurricane season, it is not that esoteric.

But then architecture students don’t have time to learn any other subjects, and even if they do “rocks for jocks” intro geology courses don’t bother the chapter on hydrology where they explain base level.

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19 carlospln January 29, 2018 at 6:54 pm

“The first isn’t that difficult or expensive, but the second, well, good luck with that. I should point out that our flood insurance program actually assumes that houses can be built so that they are suspended in the air above the rising water”. [SNIP]

Hurry up, already:

https://lunchboxarchitect.com/featured/platypus-house-robinson-architects/

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20 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Go bison!

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21 MMK January 29, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I have no idea who Dan Drezner is but that list is awful.

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22 Art Deco January 29, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Daniel Drezner is a political scientist (now at Tufts) who appears to devote most of his effort toward publication of topical commentary in various formats. The first thing that hits you when you listen to him or read him is (1) the striking of attitudes which are bog standard now on arts and science faculties and (2) his unearned condescension toward everyone not part of his guild.

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23 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Claude Z eagle!

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24 Art Deco January 29, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Dan Drezner’s

That should cause your mind to shut right there.

What is it with this impulse to put nonsense lists together?

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25 Brett January 29, 2018 at 12:13 pm

4. Quora at its finest is an absolute treasure. I’ve read so many good essays written in response there, particularly on historical topics.

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26 londenio January 30, 2018 at 7:25 am

Agreed. Even bad questions get often really good answers.

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27 Hopaulius January 29, 2018 at 12:22 pm

1. “[t]o articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it really was.’… It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.” In an academic seminar I heard a historian say: “We create history. History does not exist apart from us. Therefore we should create the history that is useful to us.”

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28 rayward January 29, 2018 at 12:22 pm

2. Actually, Drezner omitted Cowen’s first list of influential public intellectuals and only showed Cowen’s second list (of business leaders). One can assume Drezner didn’t actually read Cowen’s list(s). An aside, Drezner wrote a book, The Ideas Industry, about public intellectuals, but his point was that today’s public intellectuals aren’t, but rather they are purveyors of a single idea or promoters of a single ideology, someone whose main purpose is either profiting from the “ideas industry” (TED talkers) or hell-bent on brain washing the rest of us.

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29 JWatts January 29, 2018 at 12:23 pm

“3. Chinese train station built in nine hours.”

That’s impressive. There are genuine gains to be had in being able to perform such projects really quickly to minimize disruptions during construction.

Of course, you probably have to be able to use the same crew on multiple projects. Your not going to be able to keep them employed if you have 9 hours of work once a month.

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30 Taeyoung January 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I guess the real question is — does it develop cracks as soon as it’s finished, like in New York?

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31 OldCurmudgeon January 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

You should see the Jehovah’s Witnesses-es build a church from slab to finish over a 3 day weekend. All with volunteers.

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32 Viking January 29, 2018 at 3:15 pm
33 Jeff January 29, 2018 at 9:27 pm

It is impressive, but the total construction time completely excluded project planning, not to mention environmental impact studies. Basically they planned everything and choreographed everything to the last detail, brought the workers, equipment and materials to the site, and yelled “Go!” before starting the timer. It vastly understates how long the project really takes from start to finish.

The US did a similar publicity stunt with the fastest ever construction of a Liberty Ship during WW2.in just over 4.5 days. But the first such required well over 200 days to build and even at their best the average was usually about 43 days – still impressive for a 15,000 ship but the record-breaking 4.5 day job resulted in a ship that was launched.

Not inspected, not fitted out or by any means ready for regular service. The same can probably be said of this Chinese station. What they did here was ton compress the construction phase of a project that encompasses far more than just building the thing.

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34 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:28 pm

Quakers for John!

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35 dan1111 January 30, 2018 at 5:54 am

Of course. But the Chinese still build stuff way faster than we do.

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36 y81 January 29, 2018 at 12:27 pm

1. Note the ritualistic anti-Trump aside in the first paragraph, required as a matter of proper form in the circles in which Tyler moves. I didn’t read further, as life is too short to waste time reading formulaic thinkers.

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37 FYI January 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Worst of all, these articles are just factually wrong. I mean, easily wrong. If Trump is not really “being listened to”, how come our government is doing all these things that we were not doing before? It is just nonsense. I disagree with *a lot* of things Trump does but this kind of childish reaction to him (covering ears and yelling “I am not listening! I am not listening”) is really sad.

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38 Anonymous January 29, 2018 at 7:32 pm

You have a man in front of the curtain, and men behind the curtain.

I submit that the man in front of the curtain deserves credit only to the degree he fully understands what is going on behind him.

Otherwise, he is literally a “front man.”

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39 Moo cow January 29, 2018 at 8:18 pm

Do you mean 2?

Nothing about Trump in 1.

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40 Alistair January 30, 2018 at 8:03 am

It’s just a pro-forma mood affiliation signal to publish in certain circles; an assurance that the author is of the one true and apostolic progressive faith and free of the taint of heresy….

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41 Baphomet January 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm

#4: I like the Han-era seismoscope with dragons and frogs and dropping balls. The design of modern scientific instruments seems very boring in comparison.

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42 Peter January 29, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Agreed.

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43 mkt42 January 29, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Yeah, the seismoscope was the big take-away from that article. The rest was a pretty good list and pretty good evaluation albeit with the quirks that other commenters have noted. But I’m going to look up more about that seismoscope.

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44 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 11:24 pm

IU!

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45 rob January 29, 2018 at 12:32 pm

#4 I find it quite silly that “Aeronautics” (basically the Chinese invention of kites) are given the same weight as Metallurgy and Engineering.

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46 JWatts January 29, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Agreed. The field of aeronautics had very little societal impact at this point. I think this was just a give away point to boost the Chinese score.

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47 Slocum January 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Yep — that bit *was* silly. But overall it was a good read anyway.

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48 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:29 pm

cgate!

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49 Peter Ozug January 29, 2018 at 11:43 pm

And astronomy! It’d be one thing if they were using it to navigate or if this was an argument about science and not technology. Numbers of constellations or stars mapped seems a lot less important to me than acres a man can plow or hydraulics. This post is good though and I’m nitpicking the scoring system, not the 95% of the content that went into the score. I’m glad to have read it.

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50 Maitreya January 29, 2018 at 12:34 pm

4. Was Rome or Han China more technologically advanced?

What a great analysis! Thanks for sharing!

Although the article compares only technological achievements, I think another question to ponder is why one civilization collapsed and the other didn’t. In the end, the proof of the technological pudding lies in the eating. Rome collapsed, while the civilization of the Han dynasty is still alive – and continues to this day.

There is also a hypothesis that when the “barbarian” tribes failed to conquer the Han and other Chinese dynasties, they were pushed westward, and these same tribes (e.g Huns etc.) then put pressure on the Roman empire and partly contributed to its downfall. (Of course the Goths originated in Europe itself.)

Secondly, China had a vast, efficient (for its day) system of scholar-officials, selected by (methods that later went on to form) the Chinese Imperial Examination. Family ties in promotions mattered less compared to Rome. They were literally promoting the best. Thus, corruption and nepotism – a major reason for the downfall of the Roman Empire – were less persistent.

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51 rob January 29, 2018 at 12:47 pm

it could also be that the Roman’s territory contained a multitude of cultures and peoples that had been relatively isolated and disconnected all up until the Romans conquered them. On the other hand the Han dynasty inherited a much more cohesive empire that had been comparatively more homogeneous for centuries.

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52 Bob from Ohio January 29, 2018 at 1:32 pm

China was a backwater. Rome was the center of the most dynamic area of the world.

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53 carlospln January 29, 2018 at 6:57 pm

Ohio is a backwater.

China was, & is, the Middle Kingdom.

Where are you, Middletown?

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54 Scott Mauldin January 29, 2018 at 1:38 pm

I recently responded to a question about whether Rome and China are actually equally continuous.
https://www.quora.com/Do-you-think-the-Roman-Empire-Western-ever-fell-I-m-currently-taking-a-college-history-course-and-my-professor-asserts-that-it-did-not
Is the best criteria for continuity really that one has claimed to be a united polity and the other hasn’t? Along many other dimensions, Roman Civilization has been similarly if not more continuous.

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55 CM January 29, 2018 at 2:03 pm

I tend to think the differences are geopolitical rather than technological.

Rome faced external pressure from Eurasian nomads and a peer civilization – the Parthian and Sassanid Empires. Rome could probably have held off the nomads and/or reconquered its western territories if it was not also engaged in constant conflict with the Sassanid Empire. Moreover, the Arab conquests of Byzantine territory in the Levant, North Africa and much of Asia Minor, which ended the hegemonic position of the Eastern Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, came on the heels of 25 years of massively destructive war between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanids. Absent that war, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanid Empire might have both succeeded in fending off the Arabs.

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56 Taeyoung January 29, 2018 at 2:12 pm

I think the peer civilisation is the difference, not the nomads (the Han dynasty had to deal with the Xiongnu, until they defeated them decisively and the Xiongnu remnants fled into the West, where they may have turned into the Huns and menaced Rome). Han China had rival states, but there was no nearby rival power with comparably high development, size, or resources.

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57 CM January 29, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Completely agree. I did not mean to suggest China did not face nomads (obviously they did). Just that Rome faced both the nomads and a peer civilization.

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58 Michael Tinkler January 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm

And there’s the question of the Justinianic plague of the middle of the 6th Century – perhaps the first big breakout of the Black Death. It missed China because of slow transmission.

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59 Alistair January 30, 2018 at 8:09 am

What do you mean by “collapse”? China has seen multiple Dynasties and interregnum. The Han Dynasty failed before Byzantium, before Rome, even.

Stand on a random patch of land in China. The chance is that sovereign control (extra systemic transfer of power) of that patch changed hands just as many times over the centuries as an equivalent patch of land in Europe.

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60 JonFraz January 30, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Both empires collapsed– the Han Empire in the 3rd century AD. Civilizationally, while China was reunified eventually and the old Roman Empire never quite did, the Roman language handily survives today in its daughters, three of which have huge numbers of speakers, and the late Roman religion is also still very much a going concern with its largest branch still headquartered in Rome.

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61 Sean DiTullio January 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm

I actually think Sumner deserves on the list. He may not be important 100 years from now, but over the last 10 years I do think he’s caused meaningful policy change that resulted in looser monetary policy. If that caused even a 1% change in RGDP over the last 10 years you are talking about 180 billion in economic activity.

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62 Ted Craig January 29, 2018 at 12:46 pm

2. And I don’t think Tyler realizes how these traits are prevalent in business leaders, but Henry Ford and Sam Walton were never considered public intellectuals.

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63 Charbes A. January 29, 2018 at 2:59 pm

“And I don’t think Tyler realizes how these traits are prevalent in business leaders, but Henry Ford and Sam Walton were never considered public intellectuals.”

Demonstraby false: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_International_Jew#Influence_on_Nazi_Anti-Semitism

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64 Roy LC January 29, 2018 at 11:35 pm

You should look up Fordism. Not that he articulated it, but it was real.

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65 rayward January 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm

4. Size matters. At least when it comes to nation states. Rome was small (actually a city-state in the Greek model), while China was and continues to be enormous. Rome depended on its colonies (and conquest), while China did not. What makes China somewhat unique is its history of recurring highs and lows (conquests of not by China being the lows), a history about which today’s China is very aware, and determined (destined?) not to repeat; thus, the emphasis on order and stability. Rome’s technological advancements are impressive, but were enjoyed by a very few. Compare China, where technological advancements are widely shared. Our own history is somewhat fraught, alternating between periods of isolation and expansion, between periods of shared prosperity and inequality, between periods of order and stability and radical separatism and ruthless selfishness. It’s no coincidence that many Americans today compare America to Rome approvingly (and longingly).

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66 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:30 pm

Ah yes Harvard law sex kills propaganda

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67 Bob from Ohio January 29, 2018 at 1:29 pm

#3 Chinese train station collapses in 9 months

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68 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:29 pm

Cgate!

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69 Transnational Pants Machine January 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Nice one Bob. I don’t think that event will get as much press coverage. Certainly not from Tyler.

I’m sure he sleeps well knowing that, for sure, all the OSHA laws and fair-wage laws and overtime laws were followed in that construction project, and everyone involved gets Family Leave whenever required, and so forth.

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70 DF January 29, 2018 at 2:03 pm

#4 Interesting from the sheer volume of facts, especially on the Chinese side, but the analysis is arbitrary and bizarre at some points.

The author compares the Roman Republic/Empire and Han Dynasties on 14 categories and scores each one as a win or loss for one of the two civilizations. I am not an expert to comment on all topics, but the Astronomy and Mathematics sections were baffling. The author completely ignores the mathematical works in Roman Egypt, neglecting to mention the works of Menelaus, Ptolemy and Diophantus either out of ignorance or because the author does not consider them Roman. In the Astronomy section, he gives the victory to the Han based on the sheer volume of celestial observation, even though he concedes the Chinese had not yet deduced the Earth is spherical, which was common knowledge among Roman astronomers. Puzzling.

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71 Alistair January 30, 2018 at 8:12 am

Yeah, it’s good history but shoddy analysis. Author should have better evaluation/scoring criteria, and it should be focused heavily on sophistication rather than quantity.

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72 Charbes A. January 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm

#3 So what? The Nazis’ cattle trains used to run on time… carrying people… to death camps.

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73 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:30 pm

where did Lewis & Clark meet?

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74 Peter Akuleyev January 30, 2018 at 3:10 am

The trains to the death camps didn’t run on time at all. You are confusing the Nazis with Mussolini (whose trains also didn’t run on time, but that is a different story)

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75 blades January 29, 2018 at 2:19 pm

#4 Really? I think the author collected what was a list of truly impressive Roman technological achievements. Then, to try to balance things out, he came up with a bunch of Han “inventions” like the kite or the seismograph, with no scientific or technology value. Han “wins” agriculture because it was such a peasant-based economy. Yeah, I don’t think so. Oh, and they built a big wall. What this article did for me was demonstrate the amazing variety of Roman achievements.

And saying the dynasty lasted for a long time is totally beside the point.

And saying Rome’s technological advances benefited the very few is just obviously wrong.

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76 John J January 29, 2018 at 3:55 pm

2. “I think Tyler considerably underrates how much Bezos and other tech people are respected for having a lot of money rather than vision, execution, and depth of understanding.”

There. Fixed.

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77 zztop January 29, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Re: David Autor via #2

David Autor a.k.a. Captain Obvious.

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78 Karl January 29, 2018 at 4:57 pm

3. Not building a station. Laying down some track.

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79 chuck martel January 29, 2018 at 6:39 pm

2. Take, for example, Nicholas Kristof off that op-ed page, and suddenly not so many people care when he declares academics to be irrelevant.

Not sure what he means by that but Nick Kristof is clueless.

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80 Ben January 29, 2018 at 6:47 pm

TNC is not an intellectual. He’s a straussian victim.

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81 Anonymous January 29, 2018 at 7:40 pm

It seems to me, that when most Americans are to here !===!, TNC says we should take it to here !===!=!. People say no, we only go to here !===!. And TNC says see, everyone is against me. They won’t take it to !===!=!.

People can be fully pro-equality without supporting the TNC roadmap to get there.

But !=! people? Don’t think this lets you off the hook.

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82 shrikanthk January 29, 2018 at 7:32 pm

1. Is cringe-worthy in every sentence. I don’t mind left wing takes. But I do mind lies.

Also it’s interesting that when it comes to India, Tyler feels empowered to share “left wing” takes. I never see him sharing Ta Nehisi Coates or Catherine McKinnon on MR.

His radicalism is conveniently reserved for the third world. Particularly India 🙂

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83 Moo cow January 29, 2018 at 8:23 pm

Re: 1. So Maharashtra State is top GDP, second in population, etc. So what influence in India as a whole does Maharashtra wield? Is it like California to the US? Ontario to Canada? What context should be placed on 200 years of caste struggle in this state?

It was a long essay. What specifically were the lies?

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84 vin January 29, 2018 at 9:11 pm

Moo cow,
After all the care and love he has given to cows, he loves that it is getting reciprocated.

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85 shrikanthk January 29, 2018 at 9:30 pm

1. Maharashtra is the largest economy in India among all states. But a large part of that stems from Bombay. Take out Bombay, and Maharashtra seems far less impressive!

Regarding Caste struggle and Maharashtra – There is no doubt that Maharashtra saw the worst of caste oppression (along with Kerala) in the past 300 years. A lot of that had to do with Peshwa reaction. While fine rulers in some respects, the Peshwas were notorious for their extreme conservatism. And it doesn’t look very good in hindsight.

But that doesn’t give one license to lie. Here’s a dissection of the Koregaon battle. This isnt a right wing perspective. But the plain truth.

http://www.opindia.com/2018/01/battle-of-koregaon-lessons-in-unity/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

1. Mahars (as well as Muslims) were part of Peshwa armies. Including in this particular battle where the Peshwa defeat and British victory is celebrated by modern Dalit activists.

2. While Peshwas recruited fewer Mahars than earlier Maratha rulers like Shivaji, they recruited them nonetheless.

3. Mahars were mere foot soldiers in the Koregaon battle. Even on the British side. All the major officials and leading commanders were not Mahar. But mostly British. And the victory was that of the British. Not Mahars.

4. While it is convenient to demonize Peshwa orthodoxy, even in their worst aspects, the Peshwas were positively benevolent when compared with Muslim Tyrants down south like Tipu Sultan who reigned over modern day Bangalore region at around the time of Nelson and Napoleon. Tipu was notorious for his persecution of Catholics, Brahmins, Nairs….practically everyone who wasn’t a Muslim. His atrocities are well documented. A link on the same – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Hindus#Tipu_Sultan

5. Mahars were no angels. As they themselves have engaged in caste discrimination against the Maangs, an even lower caste. Pretty similar to how the Mala caste in Andhra Pradesh (Gidla’s caste) has traditionally oppressed the Madigas

6. Rohit Vemula was not a Dalit. He was the son of a stone cutter and belonged to the Vaddera caste which is classified as OBC, not Dalit. His suicide is a subject on which there is little clarity. He himself didn’t blame any specific group for his suicide, but instead blamed the “system” in his suicide note 🙂 . To regard it as an instance of caste oppression is clearly a form of propaganda.

I can go on…But let me stop here.

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86 shrikanthk January 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Some more dope on Mahars.

Mahars are a v v numerous group. 10% of Maharashtra population.

They were traditionally engaged as watchmen in villages, as well as agri laborers. Due to their critical role in village administration and law and order, they were often even awarded small parcels of land. So a good chunk of them were land-owners who cultivated their own land. Their status was well above that of most untouchables in most parts of India.

Ambedkar was a Mahar

There have been many Mahar saints during the medieval period. Eg : Chokhamela, Soyarbai among others.

Mahars as per most accounts declined in status during Peshwa and later British rule. So it is pretty difficult to construct a story of 2000 years of oppression for them. This is true for many other dalit groups in the country. Eg : Adi Karnataka group in Karnataka. These guys were powerful landlords during the medieval period only to be dispossessed by the Gowdas, a powerful OBC caste, who were abetted by the British. So the Dalitness of Adi Karnataka caste is a recent phenomenon. It doesn’t go back 1000s of years. it is a consequence of modernity and British rule.

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87 Kris January 30, 2018 at 12:21 am

These guys were powerful landlords during the medieval period only to be dispossessed by the Gowdas, a powerful OBC caste, who were abetted by the British.

Why do you say the Gowdas’ rise happened under British rule? I’d say it happened in the Vijayanagar Empire. Kempe Gowda, one of the feudatories of that empire, was the founder of Bangalore.

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88 Vishwas January 30, 2018 at 1:50 am

Shrikanth wasn’t describing the rise of the Gowdas. He was discussing their persecution of the Adi Karnataka groups. His point, which seems to be conventional wisdom in Karnataka, is that this persecution happened during British rule, and possibly with the complicity of the British.

89 shrikanthk January 30, 2018 at 7:45 am

Yes. And the role of Indology and Aryan race theories cannot be understated in the larger scheme of things.

Traditionally in South India, it was a two varna system – Brahmins vs rest. A 3 vs 97 equation. There were no Kshatriyas or Vaishyas. The Brahmins lived in their own bubble and were barely interested in creating any hierarchy within the remaining 95%.

Things changed with the coming of modern Indology. Classical studies meant that efforts were made to forcefit the dozens of castes in each region into the 4 varna model found in ancient texts. That’s when many dominant shudra castes (like the Nairs in Kerala, Vokkaligas in Karnataka, Vellalars in TN, Reddys in AP) became conscious of their “shudra” status and were keen to efface it and prove their superiority to the rest of the population.

You may argue that there is a case to be made that this process began even before the British, with the rise of Maratha power in South. I don’t deny that totally. But I do feel Indology had a role in the worsening of caste tensions and persecution of Dalits

90 blah January 29, 2018 at 11:59 pm

Some articles are linked to for being informative. Some are just thrown in for being provocative: in those, the preponderance of bugs is a feature.

That opindia article you linked to is a master-piece, far intellectually superior to anything any westerner has ever written on India (and will likely ever write on India), but just don’t expect anyone here to have any capability of appreciating it.

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91 shrikanthk January 30, 2018 at 7:20 am

Yes. Westerners will crib at the opIndia piece nitpicking at its occasional repititiveness, its unwieldy English, among other things.

In other words, form trumps content when it comes to assessing the quality of an article. Pretty sad.

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92 blah January 30, 2018 at 12:02 am

Most western/westernized Indian idiots who respond to you do not ever read any of your sentences carefully. They just mood-affiliate, assume baselessly that you are mindlessly defending the indefensible, and make snarky comments that they think make them appear cool. A good example would be the commenter win above.

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93 shrikanthk January 30, 2018 at 7:22 am

Yes. But I don’t mind.

It’s not all in vain. Am sure my comments (and that of others like you or Jaldhar) have made atleast a few dozen MR readers revise their views on India and Indian history. Doesn’t sound like a large number. But if it has, then it has been worth it. We have done our bit.

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94 shrikanthk January 30, 2018 at 8:08 am

Also I always hope that people can change. Because I have my own example !

I grew up as a liberal (if not a leftist) in India. My father was a progressive. An agnostic. An old fashioned liberal. I had a somewhat westernized upbringing. Reading Wodehouse, Dickens and all that. And largely ignorant of Indian culture, beyond the bare outlines.

I had no conservatives to look up to in India, as a robust conservative intellectual tradition doesn’t exist back home. People like the RSS are pretty lowbrow and my father made sure I hate them. I turned to the Right through western sources. Initially it was the Economic Right. Reading Sowell. Watching “Free to Choose” videos. Reading MR. Later it was listening to more authentic conservative voices like Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield, or Roger Scruton. That’s how I discovered the conservative in me.

And then I began to look at India and Indian history without the liberal biases I had inherited growing up in India. And my whole outlook changed.

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95 blah January 30, 2018 at 10:12 am

Very nice to hear!

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96 D January 29, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Hi Tyler,

Just wanna say thanks for bringing attention to the caste issue.

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97 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Reed!

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98 vin January 29, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Tyler,
Please keep sharing news, columns and discussions about India’s caste system. Thanks a lot.

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99 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 1:41 am

The first time I read a Professor Cowen post about the Dalits I was shocked at his impartial tone and implored him, in a short set of brief comments (which he probably did not read, God bless him, I certainly hope he does not read even half the comments here) to take down his post.

I don’t think he took down the post – I did not expect him to. Well, good for him, either way.

God loves us all the way we are but loves us too much to let us stay that way. Nietzsche was a bright young fellow but he rebarbirated that particular algorithm. “Knowledge is good”, such a simple aphorism, and yet the author of the Zarathustra (God only knows how he pronounced that word in his not very Celtic German way) missed out on understanding it right. Who would have thunk it?

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100 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:03 am

if you are not a native English speaker, let me help you out – “rebarbirate” is not a word in the dictionaries. Nietzsche was bright so one is reluctant to say he “rejected” a worthwhile algorithm. Rather, after thinking about it ((hence, the prefix re-, which indicates not only second actions (e.g., he reran the path through the woods) but also considered and declined actions (e.g., he repudiated the suggestion that he rerun the path through the woods) (had he merely ‘pudiated’ it, he would have accepted it – Wodehouse rang the changes on this aspect of English on several occasions, the most famous being the observation that a certain butler was, while not actually disgruntled, not really gruntled, either … Wodehouse said it better, of course)) – as I was saying, rather, after thinking about it, he rebarbirated it (rebarbative is the closest word but that word would not exactly be the ‘mot juste’ even if existed as a verb).

Nietzsche simply did not understand how a human should react to the necessity of hierarchies in this our fallen world. Too much time reading the Greeks, I guess, and listening to Wagner, and not enough time on Isaiah and Amos and their pals and Gamaliel’s friend Saint Paul and his pals.

Also, if you are not American, you hopefully and probably do not know that “Knowledge is Good” is the motto of Faber College, which is a college in an old motion picture comedy that portrayed academic America as a very weird version of decadent Rome,with an Albanian-American version of a very degraded Falstaff (soon to die of a cocaine overdose, sadly) and a cool scene where someone rides up a staircase on a motorcycle. Aristophanes it wasn’t. Anyway, to say that Nietzsche did not get the aphorism “Knowledge is Good” – well, it is sort of dizzrespectful to that celebrated philosopher who pretended so strongly to believe that God does not love us all with the same love.

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101 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:08 am

Again, for the one non-English speaker who reads my comments: And “who would have thunk it” is “Rural-Humorous” (see, e.g., HeeHaw, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction) for “who would have thought” (‘Who knew’? was the similar tag line on the show that Seinfeld named after himself, and “who ever heard of such a thing” was the equivalent tag line on the “David Letterman” show).

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102 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:11 am

I doubt he believed most of what he said.

103 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:11 am

Nietzsche, that is.

104 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:22 am

I like to think that, although Nietzsche was not a “cor ad cor loquitur” type of guy, and not even, as discussed above, a “knowledge is good” type of guy, he would have, one day, without the syphilis and all that, addressed in a more useful way than he actually did, the question of how a human should react to the necessity of hierarchies in this fallen world.

105 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:24 am

Not that I would ever joke about syphilis. There but for the grace of God go I.

106 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:40 am

da quel punto depende il cielo e tutta la natura

107 anonymous January 30, 2018 at 2:42 am

thanks for reading.

108 Ali Choudhury January 29, 2018 at 10:05 pm

2. There’s a certain part of the contented majority who love anybody who is worth a billion dollars – J K Galbraith.

Bezos’ greatest talent has been getting investors to perpetually fund his loss-making retail empire.

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109 A clockwork orange January 29, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Summers hates Washington & Lee black private eyes.

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