Saturday assorted links

by on March 3, 2018 at 3:18 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Matthew Young March 3, 2018 at 3:34 pm

2. Longevity is less genetically determined than many of us had thought.

At some age, neither the genes nor the jeans seem useful.


2 Rick Hyatt March 3, 2018 at 3:51 pm

“Who’s ‘us’, white man?” The longevity heritability estimates have always been low. This merely confirms them with an impressive dataset. What is more interesting is the almost total absence of dominance, and the total absence of epistasis from that heritability – these are much harder to estimate and so there is usually insufficient data. (Either the relationships make them unidentifiable or they have big error bars.)


3 jd March 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Heretability is beneficial individually so should be linear.


4 TGGP March 3, 2018 at 8:26 pm

Twin-adoption studies often break down things into “genetics”, “shared environment” and “non-shared environment”. The last is a sort of catch-all for everything we can’t explain by known factors. Kevin Mitchell would chalk much of it up to noise. The summary in Nature seems to assume anything not explainable by relatedness should be chalked up to environment.


5 blah March 3, 2018 at 10:58 pm



6 TheRiver March 4, 2018 at 4:54 pm

It misses the point. Many life threatening health conditions are indeed genetic. Or to put it in context with this article a short life expectancy is genetic. The author is looking in the wrong place and came to the wrong conclusion. This happens often.


7 jd March 3, 2018 at 3:54 pm

In regard to (1) I strongly disagree. This is a rebuttal paper by the chief economist of uber. Their key claim is that survey data used by previous papers was done incorrectly. This is quite possible. However, if they wanted to convince me they could do an independent analysis of their own data (which they have) instead of or an addition to the argument of the survey data collected by outsiders.
If Uber wants to convince us that their drivers make a decent way, give us the numbers. Don’t dispute salary/payout data without giving us the real numbers and expect us to believe you.


8 anon March 3, 2018 at 3:56 pm

What a weird objection. Did you read the article?

“For example, a study we conducted with Alan Krueger of Princeton found that drivers across 20 of Uber’s largest US markets earned an average of $19.04 per hour, in October 2015. A more recent study with Stanford professors estimated gross hourly earnings of $21.07¹ for all US drivers between January 2015 and March 2017.”


9 clamence March 3, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Yes but with the objection raised below that Uber funded studies are suspect as well, you can have your cake and eat it too. If Uber corrects an independent study, complain that they don’t release their internal data; if Uber releases internal data, call them liars.

My data consists of talking with Uber drivers. Most I’ve spoken to seemed happy with the gig.


10 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:21 pm

“My data consists of talking with Uber drivers. Most I’ve spoken to seemed happy with the gig.”


I always ask my uber driver about the business. They are almost universally a fan of ride sharing.

All of the studies that slam ride sharing assume that those who do the work have no idea what they are doing. It is shockingly condescending.


11 RobT March 3, 2018 at 7:10 pm

“My data consists of talking with Uber drivers. Most I’ve spoken to seemed happy with the gig.”


Survival bias. Any driver not happy driving for Uber quits and you never talk to them. I too routinely ask my drivers how they like it. They range from happy to begrudgingly doing it. What is more effective is to ask which platform they prefer. Lyft used to be strongly preferred because of tips. Now that you can tip on Uber, I find that it is only slightly preferred because of some socio-community aspect where Lyft users are less likely to be jerks, imagined or actually.

If Uber wanted to do a good study, they’d run it like a clinical trial with oversight by an arms length third party. Instead their study is just a narrow weighted survey, paid for by Uber and conducted by BSG, completely online, one time from December 16th-22nd and with a cash incentive. It can be found here: but the methodology section on the last page is lacking and the raw data are not present anywhere.

I don’t know whether Uber makes drivers better or worse off, but I do know that they are not interested in the objective truth. Tyler is being Straussian.

12 Al March 3, 2018 at 7:40 pm

“Survival bias. ” — wrong.

I am randomly sampling the population weighted by hours that they work as an uber driver. That is the correct metric. If an “uber driver” tries it for one hour and then quits does that driver count as much as one that puts in 2000 hours year for a few years? No.

13 Lurker March 5, 2018 at 1:37 am

A common condition of leftist head-up-my-own-assism, as well as an utter contempt for an individual’s agency.

14 TMC March 3, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Agreed, and about half, i’d say, have been doing it more than a year.


15 Mark Thorson March 3, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Gross earning are not the issue. It’s net earnings after fuel, car maintenance, insurance, etc. That’s where the low earning numbers come from.


16 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:22 pm

And it’s bullshit.

It assumes that the drivers can not do one iota of math.

Typical leftist dredge.


17 Anonymous March 3, 2018 at 7:18 pm

True story. I knew a guy who drove a Mini Cooper. Suddenly he traded it in on a Hummer H2. I was like wow, what a change.

A few months later he tells me “I have to sell this thing, I can’t believe how much gas it burns.”

Some people don’t do the math.

18 anon March 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Most people drastically underestimate the cost of driving. They calculate fuel costs at most, even though the total cost is more than double that.

19 Larry Siegel March 4, 2018 at 12:49 am

Most people produce up to the point where marginal cost equals marginal revenue. Not sure why you think Uber drivers substitute fully-allocated cost for marginal cost. (This is “Marginal Revolution.”) The car is going to depreciate anyway, as is the driver’s human capital. It uses more gas and depreciates a little faster if being driven, but those are not first-order effects.


20 Mulp March 4, 2018 at 3:28 pm

You would pay almost as much or more for a 3 year old “Black car class” car with 200,000 miles as for a 5 year old with 30,000?

21 Borjigid March 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Uber critics tend towards hysterics, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were wrong. On the other hand, Uber has zero credibility on anything at this point.

Let the market sort it out. If driving for Uber is a bad deal relative to other opportunities, they’ll have trouble retaining drivers and will have to raise compensation. The trick is to make sure that the other opportunities are good, which means keeping unemployment low.


22 toby March 3, 2018 at 4:27 pm

“Let the market sort it out.”

Exactly. Even if this research were perfectly correct — who would have practical use for it?

Uber already knows what it pays drivers and Uber drivers already know what they are paid.

Most economic research is low quality and/or unnecessary, anyway.


23 byomtov March 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm

who would have practical use for it?

Someone thinking of becoming an uber driver?


24 toby March 3, 2018 at 7:01 pm

… Uber drivers (potential or otherwise) don’t read/compare/contrast these types of studies. Word of mouth and/or simple inquiries to Uber is the method.


25 Mulp March 4, 2018 at 3:34 pm

“Most economic research is low quality and/or unnecessary, anyway.”

The best example is the investors who invest in Uber. These investors have money they don’t need, so they are happy to gift it to people who want to try being a taxi driver. They give the gift of knowledge to many people: taxi driving sucks for them.

Education by experiment.

Uber investors as educators.


26 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:23 pm


Let the market sort it out!


27 carlospln March 3, 2018 at 11:00 pm
28 clockwork_prior March 4, 2018 at 7:11 am

Pretty much reads like a good calculated risk post. Which is a compliment, as I rarely waste any time at all reading anything about the growing massive failure that is Uber. Though who knows, a certain group of people just might be able to personally cash in through that 2019 planned IPO, assuming enough greater fools keep ignoring plain facts.


29 Hadur March 3, 2018 at 4:34 pm

Why should I bother reading (1), given that it is literally written by an Uber employee? What possible credibility could it have.

The study it is criticizing is one of the few studies about Uber that is not funded by Uber itself, which seems keen on capturing as many social scientists as it can.

I’m still skeptical of claims that most Uber drivers don’t make any money – it is not consistent with what I observe (that there are a lot of Uber drivers). But I am also skeptical of stuff that comes directly from Uber.


30 Mulp March 3, 2018 at 5:13 pm

Lots of people want to start businesses and be their own boss. Look at all the pizza and sub shops and coffee shops that existed before corporations mastered the franchise business model to take a 10% cut of their revenue and make them all look the same.

Uber has done to the taxi industry what Dominos did to the pizza shop industry. They provide you with debt to meet the minimum requirement to use the name, and if you fail, you can’t use the name, lose the capital assets, and are stuck with the debt.

The number of small business startups, and failures, has not fallen, it’s just you don’t “need” to file a DBA to start a subcontracting business for Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit, airbnb, etc. But you are still a small business, not a worker.


31 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Pre-dominoes it was worse?

What I heard was that every mom and pop pizza place in the country lost money. Until they cooked to books and sold the business to the next guy. He struggled for a few years, before he cooked the books and .. repeat ad infinitum.


32 Larry Siegel March 4, 2018 at 12:58 am

Actually a lot of people own their own cars.


33 Mulp March 4, 2018 at 4:23 pm

More don’t own “their” car.


34 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 3, 2018 at 5:14 pm

They can “make” money, while not really counting the new car (and payments) they bought sooner than they might have done, the miles they drive positioning for *possible* fares, the invisible auto maintenance yet to come (but built into every current mile) and so on.

A cash advance on future obligations.


35 ermafl March 4, 2018 at 6:14 am

Maybe read the thing?

I find the thinking behind “I won’t read this because the author has some stake in the outcome” problematic. In general those affected by an issue will have the strongest incentive to research it.

Just read it, consider the arguments on their merits, and read an opposing view. Trust yourself.


36 Anon7 March 3, 2018 at 4:38 pm

5. So you put men on the spot and are surprised to find that some men publicly express conversion to feminist dogma.

“an 8 percentage point increase in men who think household work should be shared equally.”

Yet there has been little change in the actual behavior of men over the past 25 years. The gap “is apparent even in countries which made substantial progress toward greater gender equality, such as European Nordic countries.” The social constructionists are all wet.


37 Dashiel_Bad_Horse March 3, 2018 at 7:20 pm

Soon we’ll even have equality of testosterone levels!


38 Bursa Tüp Bebek March 3, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Duygusalız; en az senin kadar. Hassasız; bazen tahmin edebileceğinden çok daha fazla. Cesuruz; bebeğinle ilgili hayallerini kendi hayallerimize katacak kadar. Heyecanlıyız; sanki ilk bebeğimize hazırlandığımız andaki kadar çok. Hep hazırız; senin yanında olmak, seni anlamak, senin hissettiklerini herkesten iyi görebilmek için.
Hayatta kendi varlık nedenini bilirsen, ona odaklanırsan, varlığını değişilmez kılan o biricik duyguyu keşfedersen, varlığın ancak o zaman başkaları için de büyük anlamlar taşıyabilir. Pembemavi’nin varlık nedeni, senin kendini mutlu, güvende ve harika hissetmendir. Çünkü bize göre hayatı harika yapan sihir, hayata sevinçle bakan bir annenin gözlerindedir.
1998’de kadın hastalıkları ve doğum uzmanı beş arkadaş bir araya gelip Pembemavi’yi kurmaya karar verdiğimizde, bizi harekete geçiren de tam olarak buydu; o sevinç dolu gözlerin bize de hayatla ilgili harika şeyler gösterecek olması.
Burayı mutlu bir yer olarak inşa ettik. En modern teknolojiyle donattık. Çok özendik her ayrıntıya. Sen kendini çok rahat hisset diye bazen en olmayacak şeyleri bile oldurmaya inat ettik. Çalışan herkesi ailenden biri gibi görebilmen için, bütün ekibimizin sevgi dolu ve güler yüzlü olmasını çok önemsedik. Tıbbi bilginin en güncel haliyle buraya erişebilmesini, burada hem bizim hem de senin açından olağanüstü bir faydaya dönüşebilmesini sağlayacak bir sistem kurduk.
Dersimize çok çalıştık, ne gerekiyorsa yaptık ve 2006’da Bursa Tüp Bebek Merkezi ruhsatımızı da aldık.

Bunlar elbette önemli ama bizce Pembemavi bir anne adayı için biricik yapan şey, buranın sevgi dolu bir yer olmasıdır.


39 Alan M March 5, 2018 at 2:24 pm

All good points.


40 Mulp March 3, 2018 at 4:59 pm

1. For a few years I answered surveys for either the public benefit, or the implied rewards.

I quickly became frustrated by the poor design of the survey questions.

The authors of 1 looked at a survey, found the obvious to me flaws, then suggested a better estimate of the wage, which i look at as just as bogus as the original because it seems to me they are confusing business income with the wage left over after significant operating and capital expense.

Now perhaps Uber drivers look at their payment/1099 and automatically deduct all capital and operating expenses, but it’s clear that President Trump has not been able to do that even with lots of assistance from lawyers, etc, based on his multiple bankruptcies.

As someone interested in good data, I think it’s important that I provide data to guide public policy. But so much bad policy motives make good queries difficult. E.g., BLS surveys exclude classes of workers and work to distort the data to prevent public policy addressing real poverty that by the way is very harmful to economic growth. But where these factors are not at play, it is really painful to see bad survey questions because the survey authors never had them tested and reviewed by skeptics.

Many will argue that such process takes too long. A bad survey can collect bad data and produce junk conclusions in less time than it takes to test and review the survey questions before starting the survey.


41 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 3, 2018 at 5:18 pm

3. When companies made an alliance with the old NRA, in the old days, do you think they were consciously partnering on this video?


42 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 3, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Oh, and by the way, I think “Russian money funneled through the NRA for extreme right wing causes” is not just a wild idea anymore.

Not your grandfather’s citizen marksmanship and safety organization.


43 So Much For Subtlety March 3, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Of course you do. You always did. You always will. No other possible option is available to you. I blame your parents.

I notice not one little bit of evidence that such a claim might be true. Just the usual Acorn extremists talking to each other. No big deal. Even if it were true, by all means, let’s see the Russians spending their own money to defend everyone else’s rights. Good for them. About the best thing they could do with it.

In the meantime I am disinclined to accept criticism from people who have been accepting Moscow’s gold since it was ripped from the teeth of dead GUlag camp victims. The anti-Vietnam War protests were funded by Moscow and that bothers the Hard Left not one bit. Still doesn’t. I don’t see Hanoi Jane apologizing so we can take this as the partisan garbage it is.

However even if it were true, I would welcome it. The sooner that Middle America comes to accept that these fruit cakes are pawns of a foreign power the better. Code Pink, Black Lives Matter, all of them. As they have been since the 50s at least. That would discredit the extremists and bring American politics back to the center. Excellent. We should all be happy about that.

But until that happens I will continue to enjoy the lunatic Left channeling Senator McCarthy and sounding a hell of a lot like Viktor Orban. Can’t have those Rootless Cosmopolitans giving money to NGOs can we?


44 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 3, 2018 at 9:02 pm


It is just me. Believe that for a couple days.


45 clockwork_prior March 4, 2018 at 7:18 am

‘The anti-Vietnam War protests were funded by Moscow’

With some Catholic help on the part of these people – [Jesuit priest Daniel] ‘Berrigan, his brother and Josephite priest Philip Berrigan, and Trappist monk Thomas Merton founded an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War and wrote letters to major newspapers arguing for an end to the war. In 1967, Berrigan witnessed the public outcry that followed from the arrest of his brother Philip, for pouring blood on draft records as part of the Baltimore Four. Philip was sentenced to six years in prison for defacing government property. The fallout he had to endure from these many interventions, including his support for prisoners of war and, in 1968, seeing firsthand the conditions on the ground in Vietnam, further radicalized Berrigan, or at least strengthened his determination to resist American military imperialism.’


46 albatross March 4, 2018 at 11:02 am

How will the picture change if it turns out the Russians also funneled money to some group you approve of–say, the ACLU? (Assuming you approve of the ACLU–for whatever it’s worth, I do.) You can’t just denounce anyone who received Russian money unless you intend to allow the Russians to decide whom you should denounce from now on.


47 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Maybe I should back up and talk about how this developed for me. Perhaps six months ago I heard that some Russian guy had been making large contributions to the NRA. I thought that could be fine, because a lot of guys like guns and why not a Russian guy? I thought at the time hus emphasis might even be on gun rights in Russia as opposed to in the United States.

So I guess that answers your question right there.

It is only recently that things got suspicious, with reports that money was channeled as an illegal donation under federal law. Then you start putting a few things together, LaPierre as a hard right nut (generally and certainly not limited to gun rights), Loesch with this end of the world stuff, and you think .. they might have just nutty enough to do it, to think they had to conspire with Russian oligarchs to “save America.”

And so the critical words in the linked story “the FBI is investigating” become more interesting.


48 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 4, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Another way to thumbnail it would be that if the ACLU had been a conduit to funnel illegal Russian donations to Jill Stein, I would want that pursued to the full extent of the law.


49 So Much For Subtlety March 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm

And yet you are completely silent on the Clinton Foundation and Hillary’s uranium deal.

Why am I not surprised?

50 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm

That has been pursued to the full extent of the law!

And found wanting.

51 So Much For Subtlety March 5, 2018 at 12:36 am

That is funny. But by all means tell me what laws you think the NRA has broken.

52 Lurker March 5, 2018 at 1:52 am

Homicide. The NRA shot 17 Florida high school students down.

53 ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ March 5, 2018 at 9:34 am

Ok, here is a kind of amazing thing:

If anyone here was asked by a US Government or Civics teacher, when you were 15, “why are foreigners prohibited from contributing to political campaigns?” You would answer readily, “to prevent foreign influence.”

And yet now, you are old and have the positional or partisan answer liked up: “so what!”

Shame on you, but luckily for the rest of us, there are laws, and the FBI is investigating.

54 So Much For Subtlety March 3, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Probably. And why not? Everyone knows the truth here. Except the Washington Post. The NRA says:

“They use their media to assassinate real news,” the woman’s voice says scornfully. “They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.”

Every single one of those claims is a sober statement of fact. I doubt that even the Left disputes this. So what is their conclusion?

This new NRA ad is barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war.

Or my favorite:

This NRA ad is an open call to violence to protect white supremacy. If I made a video like this, I’d be in jail.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence for any of these claims. And the people calling for something just short of Civil War are the “Resistance”. But, hey, hysterical bed wetters are going to wet the bed.

Every day the enemies of the NRA show why gun ownership is an excellent idea and why the NRA deserves every bit of support we can give it.


55 Moo cow March 4, 2018 at 11:03 am

Looks like somebody got triggered.


56 Dain March 5, 2018 at 10:29 am

“Triggered.” Well done. I get it.


57 chuck martel March 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm

3. And how are these two completely separate peoples to jointly decide on the running of one vast country?

Obviously, they cannot. And there are more than two separate peoples. It’s simply impractical, if not impossible, for a country of more than 300 million souls to operate under any real form of democracy. The very phony representative version that now exists is, in fact, much of the problem. If a country the size of Lichtenstein or Iceland or Singapore can keep plugging along, there’s no reason why people in Honolulu and Bangor should live under the same master.


58 Li March 3, 2018 at 7:09 pm

Nice theory – try selling it in Tibet.


59 rayward March 3, 2018 at 5:24 pm

3.Didn’t know McArdle was becoming a WP columnist. As I’ve expressed before, I’m impressed with McArdle’s ability to attract lots of enthusiastic folks who agree with her. And I’m impressed that she can do it. How she does it is a mystery. In this, her first column for the WP, she conflates the NRA with “the sons and daughters of those rural areas (who) disproportionately staff the military that defends” the rich few who occupy New York and Silicon Valley. Well, if she puts it that way, I too will defend the sons and daughters of those rural areas over the billionaire bankers and boy wonders who reap the benefits of America without making the sacrifice. Of course, McArdle exploits the cultural divide in America, while pretending to stay above the fray. She is a fraud. No, that’s not right, she is simply taking advantage of an opportunity, and I’m impressed, just like I’m impressed by Trump that he does the same.


60 Jeff R March 3, 2018 at 6:18 pm

I wish I had stuck to my usual practice of skipping your comments.


61 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:25 pm



62 Careless March 3, 2018 at 6:45 pm

What opportunity do you think she is taking advantage of? I can’t guess what nefarious purpose you think she has behind her post.


63 Jan March 4, 2018 at 6:29 am

It’s all a scheme for her to get enough income from a 10 hour a week side gig so she can be a full-time kitchen gadget blogger.


64 albatross March 4, 2018 at 11:03 am



65 anonymous reply to rayward March 3, 2018 at 9:03 pm

rayward – you are pro-choice and you, in an instinctive mean girls way (hi Lilo!) dislike Trump and there are lots of other things about you that I do not approve of.

But please keep posting (commenting?), you are interesting, and you at least seem to be making the effort to understand the world you did not ask to be born into.

God loves you.

This is not really 2018, for any practical purpose – above all, remember that.

Remember too, though, that you can do what it takes to care about everybody. Renounce your pro-choice views, my young friend: God wants you to live in a world where everybody has the opportunity to be happy!


66 Careless March 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm

He’s a senior citizen, you know.


67 anonymous reply to rayward March 3, 2018 at 9:44 pm

We all are (senior citizens). This is not 2018. (Toto I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore)

And, of course, none of us are (senior citizens). This is not 2018. Trust me.

And if it is – (if this is 2018 and you are reading this) (well, Careless, I am not directing this at you) – but if this is 2018, let’s enjoy it.

Remember, though, that none of us have the right to deny the right to life to others who are innocent.

Whatever year this is.

You have no f**king idea how much better you and 2018 would be friends if you and 2018 said to each other – we need to be pro-life.

Rayward understood this, long ago, and he may understand it again, some day.

God loves us all, and it is no small thing to be the only friend in the world to some poor creature who never had a friend in the world before meeting you.

Cor ad cor loquitur.


68 B.Reynolds March 4, 2018 at 12:17 am

Everyone is fooled by Megan, except for rayward. She can’t fool ol’ rayward.


69 Jan March 4, 2018 at 6:31 am

I don’t typically agree with McArdle and sometimes she has some cooky views, but I liked this one. Not a bad addition to the Post.


70 clockwork_prior March 4, 2018 at 7:26 am

Well, somebody from the Federalist/Mercatus/AFP wing of the public policy debates was required to balance Volokh leaving the Post.


71 Feyi March 3, 2018 at 5:24 pm

4. Whoever wrote that review is the same person as @pseudoerasmus on twitter


72 Meets March 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm

1. Why I still don’t trust the left to govern effectively. Using flawed studies they are likely to put an end to things like Uber and fracking were they in power.


73 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Could not agree more.

If the left had it druthers we would not have fracking, oil would be over 200 a barrel and there would far more human misery across the globe.


74 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Re: McArdle’s at WaPo

Makes a lot of sense that she would, in time, leave Bloomberg. The TDS at Bloomberg is impressive, it flows through their entire reporting structure. Likely Matt will have to leave in time as well, as he does not meet his quota of attacking the administration.


75 mdv59 March 3, 2018 at 6:47 pm

The shame is that on Bloomberg her columns attracted, by internet standards, some occasionally reasonable and thoughtful comments. On WaPo it will be a barrage of negative comments enumerating the many ways she’s terrible hack with nothing worthwhile to say. The only less hospitable host for her writing would be the New York Times.


76 Engineer March 3, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Yes. I read a few of the comments on the WP column; remarkable for their vitriol. Really quite depressing. It’s just a mob.


77 Careless March 3, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Yep, those comments were an exceptional level of dumpster fire. Maybe 2% of the people commenting had some idea of what her post was about


78 lxm March 4, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I disagree. I’ve been reading McArdle’s columns for years and the comments at Bloomberg have been just as bad or worse than the comments at the Post. The difference is the Post comments are crazy from the left and the Bloomberg comments are crazy from the right.

What both sets of comments have in common is that no one is interested in dialogue.


79 Li March 3, 2018 at 7:11 pm

TDS = total dissolved solids?


80 Careless March 3, 2018 at 9:36 pm

Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Something that the Washington Post is not exactly lacking in.


81 Lurker March 5, 2018 at 2:00 am

Did the term “TDS” originate within the Glib-o–sphere?


82 Al March 3, 2018 at 6:43 pm

#4 — Why did you link to this reprehensible article? It is everything that is wrong in one, overly long, diatribe. I am a much worse person for having read it.


83 dearieme March 3, 2018 at 7:17 pm

It seemed to involve religion and then I fell asleep.


84 ChrisA March 4, 2018 at 1:26 am

Tyler made a call a while back that religion was coming back for the youth, so this link was perhaps in that spirit. But does anyone really think that the writer is representative of the new religionists? Like you I ended up skimming most of it, but I did take exception to his castigation of Bentham for his supposed support for restricting of welfare via the poor law reform (as evidence against utilitarianism), when actually Bentham proposed a vast expansion which actually led to the modern welfare state.


85 Art Deco March 3, 2018 at 10:09 pm

The terms ‘diatribe’ and ‘reprehensible’ do no mean what you fancy they mean.


86 Faze March 3, 2018 at 6:46 pm

4. Nick Spencer correctly names Pinker’s great strengths, and identifies his main weakness: A shallow view of religion. I’m reading the brilliant “Blank Slate” right now, and find it disappointing that Pinker seems to take religion at face value, identifying the religious as people who believe certain doctrines, rather than people who profess to believe certain doctrines.

He mentions hypocrisy briefly in relation to religion, but would really benefit from reading Robin Hanson on signaling, etc. Pinker blames atrocities like the burning of witches or the 100 Years War or 9-11 on religious belief, and then moves on to his next point, without noting these these phenomena emerge from a complex stew of tribal, political and psychological motives and historical conditions, in which professed belief for the purposes of tribal affiliation plays a role, but actual belief (such as my firm conviction that if I touch a hot iron, it will hurt) are irrelevant.

I’m also disappointed by Pinker’s stout defense of embryonic stem cell research, which he imagines to be opposed by people he believes to be religious fundamentalists who have a different definition of personhood than he does — possibly because they hate sex.

He seems to think that people oppose embryonic stem cell research because they’re assholes, rather than because they support the Enlightenment value that an individual life is of tremendous value, and that an action that might — just possibly, under certain definitions — cause the extinction of a life should not be undertaken without the greatest caution and circumspection. Pinker’s enthusiasm for embryonic stem cell research dates “The Blank Slate”. I’m personally agnostic on the subject, but you really don’t hear to much rah-rah talk about embryonic stem cell research the days.

And of course, here comes my that said — That said, Pinker’s freaking brilliant and I’m looking forward to reading “Enlightenment Now”.


87 Steve Sailer March 4, 2018 at 1:53 am

Pinker feels a healthy, natural loyalty toward his own ethnicity.

The downside of this is that he has inherited a certain amount of bigotry against Christianity and Christians. He’s so smart and fair-minded that he feels regretful about this when it’s pointed out to him, but in today’s culture how often does anybody dare do that?


88 dearieme March 3, 2018 at 7:18 pm

“the 100 Years War” I’ll bid 30.


89 Transnational Pants Machine March 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm

3: Megan isn’t terrible-looking. I had no idea. Good for her.

Anyway, this is a classically useless WaPo piece, and I am not surprised that they hired Megan to write something like this.

Delta knee-jerks themselves into SJW idiocy without thinking, and gets their ass handed to them, and makes the anti-gun movement look like morons?

Time to crank out “Gee, maybe not everything should be political, it hurts us as a nation” article. Way to chip in, Megs!


90 Dan Lavatan March 3, 2018 at 11:36 pm

What I think is interesting is how badly they miscalculated. I’m not an NRA member and I don’t particularly want to change planes in Detroit, but United is also going to have problems with its Houston hub and they’ve basically lost all conservative and libertarian passengers for life, or at least until and unless AAL and every other airline does something to piss people off even more. I didn’t care about betting that doctor up since the Chicago cops would do that to anyone. But next time I fly to Latin America I am going through Mexico City rather than United.

They are also going to lose a lot of premium customers since people with money often affiliate with parties that would let them keep it, and they will have less access to capital. I’m going to keep trying to short DAL stock periodically and people will need short hedges as long as the bull market continues.

Retail is even more competitive, besides the political fallout there is no way Osprey is competitive with camelbak. Those guys are all going under.


91 clockwork_prior March 4, 2018 at 7:38 am

‘Delta knee-jerks themselves into SJW idiocy without thinking’

Makes you wonder how United, doing precisely the same thing, was able to escape Megan McCardle’s (and yours, apparently) notice? – ‘Nor will NRA members stop supporting gun rights because Delta declares them unworthy of a cut-rate fare. They’re more likely to look for another airline.’

Though maybe, being cynical, the reason is that the NRA has more influence in Georgia than Illinois, and as trained professionals used to targeting things for destruction, they felt that Delta would be an easier target, and one that could further inflate their reputation of being a group no politician in a state like Georgia can ever afford to ignore. Whereas in Illinios, the NRA is just not all that fearsome. Especially in Chicago, where UA is headquartered.


92 Li March 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm

#1. The fact that the critic is almost certainly biased is not, except for those with binary mind-sets, strong evidence that the criticism is biased. Myself, I don’t care enough about the issue to read the paper so I don’t know if it would pass my smell test, but what I DO know is that ad hominem attacks don’t.
#2. “…than many of us had thought.” I’m more than a bit dubious what such “big data” studies can tell us about human genetics. Talk about self-selection.


93 Andre March 3, 2018 at 8:16 pm

#3. This is the purest result of the internet age. A discount nobody uses goes away, a government denies a tax break that it had already taken away, and a thousand think pieces are born about the doom of the Republic.


94 Guy Makiavelli March 3, 2018 at 10:54 pm

Mcardle now has to deal with the Wapo’s editorial board (which is shackled to Bezos and inspired Volokh to leave), as well as the WaPo commenters – who of course are not even capabie of reading or comprehending a rational argument. Good luck to her.


95 blah March 3, 2018 at 11:07 pm

Good point. She usually deserves better commenters than most places she has been to; she doesn’t try to provoke for its own sake or gain readership by hurting egos (a little bit of a desire to project herself as being able to think beyond both left and right notwithstanding).


96 BC March 4, 2018 at 3:31 am

#5) It would be interesting to see whether *type* of integration affects gender attitudes. For example, they could compare two ways of integrating women:

(1) Test women for various competencies, such as physical strength and fitness, and integrate women that pass those tests to train with men, even if the number of women passing the tests is not enough to make up 50% of the squads. We might call this “merit based” integration.

(2) Integrate enough women to train with men so that women make up 50% of the squads, regardless of those women’s competencies. We might call this “equal outcome” integration.

It would be interesting to see whether men’s opinions about the performance of mixed-gender teams is different after experiencing merit based vs. equal outcome integration.


97 So Much For Subtlety March 4, 2018 at 4:57 am

There are only two take-aways from that article as far as I can see.

1. Gender integration ruins the military by making everyone effeminate,

2. Men who are exposed to teams containing women learn very quickly what they can and cannot say


98 Engineer March 4, 2018 at 5:54 am

One wonders how the demands for “safe spaces” and admittance to, for example, Ranger school coexist. I suppose the recent reduction in the physical requirements to graduate from Marine officer basic school provides a clue. I suspect combat will not be so forgiving of political illusions.


99 Boonton March 4, 2018 at 11:50 am

Combat very soon will consist solely sitting in a chair with a joystick. After that it will be done by AI entirely.


100 Boonton March 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm

More seriously, I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of physical requirements (and others in general). NYC used to have a height requirement for being a cop. Why? do tall cops write more tickets? I suspect the requirement had a history that had nothing to do with finding the best cops in modern society….

1. Tall cops might have been better on horses than short, that ‘rule’ carried over even after the period when most cops would never mount a horse.
2. Demand control, more people want to be cops than there are openings for cops. A rule like height that eliminates 50% of the applicants makes it easier to choose from a smaller group left.

How exactly then were the physical requirements for Ranger school decided? Did someone really figure out what optimal physical capacities work in actual combat? Or were they a mix of ‘common sense’ (“Gee the gear weighs 50 lbs so let’s make being able to march at a fast pace for two hours with 50 lbs on your back a requirement”) and cheap filtering (“50 pullups mean we have 50% fewer applicants to worry about judging”)? Hidden in your comment is an assumption that pre-women in combat the previous requirements were derived from dispassionate first principles by a team of Vulcans committed only to pure reason. Interesting faith you have in socialistic government agencies.


101 Sfoil March 5, 2018 at 11:48 am

“Combat very soon will consist solely sitting in a chair with a joystick.”
No it won’t, and even to the extent that such things will become more common, the requirements you’re talking about are for the people that aren’t sitting in a chair.

“I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of physical requirements”
Because you don’t know anything. Combat is incredibly physically exhausting. Outside of actual fighting, every single ounce a soldier can carry is more protection, more power, more time fighting.

“an assumption that pre-women in combat the previous requirements were derived from dispassionate first principles by a team of Vulcans committed only to pure reason”
Actually they were derived from a combination of actual experience in combat and observational studies of recruits and serving soldiers (i.e., what do we want and what can we expect). Some of those studies included experiments to find e.g. the distribution of different physical characteristics between sexes (spoiler: women are weak and get hurt a lot).

“NYC used to have a height requirement for being a cop.”
Lots of departments did. Tall men, ceteris peribus, are both stronger and more intimidating. Police departments went away from expecting their officers to win fistfights/use their batons and use ranged weapons instead when they eliminated the height requirement.


102 Boonton March 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm

“I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of physical requirements” Because you don’t know anything. Combat is incredibly physically exhausting. Outside of actual fighting, every single ounce a soldier can carry is more protection, more power, more time fighting.

Granted, so then the requirements were set how again? Did someone measure how much activity recruits out of Basic could take before becoming exhausted and then compare that to how they performed in combat to come up with an optimal requirement there? Was that study updated as the nature of combat has changed since WWII, Korea, Vietnam?

Or did the requirements get set by someone like you saying “combat is exhausting, therefore a requirement that measures for endurance is sensible”?

You can never predict what type of combat troops will face, but logistics has changed dramatically since the days when you had to carry food for both you and the horses over Europe. Is optimizing for combat performance the same as optimizing for long distance carrying endurance? Notice we can invest in making super endurance based front line troops who can carry a month’s worth of rations and equipment over a hundred miles….or we could invest in supply lines and focus on front line soldiers who can endure long periods of actual combat. These two things are not necessarily the same. I grant you there’s no doubt overlap, but perfect overlap? Probably not.

“NYC used to have a height requirement for being a cop.” Lots of departments did. Tall men, ceteris peribus, are both stronger and more intimidating. Police departments went away from expecting their officers to win fistfights/use their batons and use ranged weapons instead when they eliminated the height requirement.

But why that height requirement? Why not taller? Did anyone bother to monitor what the average height of the population was? People got taller over the decades as nutrition and childhood care improved, were the height requirements adjusted in line?

Again I’m not saying there’s no intelligent thinking behind requirements. No doubt there is most of the time but you have a very wicked optimization problem here. Is the guy who can aim a gun calmly when action is happening and his heart racing also the guy who can carry 100 lbs for 14 days in a row? If you were building a basketball team or football team would you have a set of requirements and just cut off everyone below? Or might you say something like “I’ll take one calm guy who can only carry 50 and another strong guy who can carry 150 because together that makes for a more effective squad than two men who carry 75 and have the same level of ‘non-calmness’ in action”?

We know requirements are not optimized because there’s absolutely no way they could have been. So the question is since we are not at an optimal requirement is any move from that space moving towards an optimal one or away from an optimal one? Keep in mind the optimal requirements change depending upon how the rest of force is configured. A military with excellent logistics and supply chains, for example, can get away with optimizing less on long range carrying capacity to focus on other traits. More data processing capacity means you can have mixed types of requirements (i.e. the basketball team analogy where mix and match to achieve a total rather than expecting each member of the team to have the same capacity).

103 Sfoil March 6, 2018 at 8:39 am

Did someone measure how much activity recruits out of Basic could take before becoming exhausted

then compare that to how they performed in combat to come up with an optimal requirement there? Was that study updated as the nature of combat has changed since WWII, Korea, Vietnam?

Of course not, combat isn’t the place to do controlled studies, although militaries do make efforts to take advantage of various natural experiments or gather case studies after the fact. You’re making an isolated demand for rigor; the fact that the military can’t prove that their requirements are optimized for all possible worlds doesn’t imply that they need to lower them.

And no one serving today has any experience in Vietnam, much less Korea or WWII. Of course current studies don’t assume that a future war will be a repeat of WWII (although, American supply lines then were already fully motorized).

You can never predict what type of combat troops will face, but logistics has changed dramatically since the days when you had to carry food for both you and the horses over Europe. Is optimizing for combat performance the same as optimizing for long distance carrying endurance?

There isn’t really any logistics capability right now that didn’t exist during Vietnam. Plenty of wars have been fought since then, so we know about what’s needed. This is also why modern armies don’t “optimize” for long distance carrying endurance. A Civil War soldier needed to be able to carry about 40 lbs indefinitely. A modern soldier needs to be able to carry at least twice that for a day or three. We know this because the wars being fought right now require that, at least occasionally. It’s nearly inconceivable that American military logistics could be substantially improved, at least from a capabilities perspective (cost, survivability, etc is another matter). We’re (American) already living in a nearly perfect world in terms of supply lines, and fighting in relatively permissive/low-threat environments like Afghanistan at that. Infantrymen are still lugging heavy equipment through terrible terrain.

I’ll note that the “requirements” you’re upset about aren’t actually even sufficient to allow a regular infantryman, much less an elite soldier, to do their job. They’re sufficient, basically, to make sure that a cook can carry a duffel bag across the motor pool from a truck to a shipping container without falling over from exhaustion.

So the question is since we are not at an optimal requirement is any move from that space moving towards an optimal one or away from an optimal one?
Because basically no one who has experienced combat or even an accurate mock-up of it, or even for that matter daily life in a military garrison, thinks that being less physically fit will “optimize” anybody’s performance in any of those situations.

104 Boonton March 4, 2018 at 11:05 am

Megan McArdle’s first WaPo column, on businesses as people, Delta and the NRA.

Remember, the GOP is the party of free speech and expression. The left does mean things like protests people speaking.


105 Brian Donohue March 4, 2018 at 6:48 pm

#4 was very good.


106 Dain March 5, 2018 at 10:38 am

4. In short, Pinker’s data is good but – read no more, good, that’s fine, all anyone cares about.

Quibbling over The Enlightenment is the more ambiguous part anyone with a mind to can quibble with. No biggie. How much Christianity is responsible for good things is an artful debate.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: