Assorted links

1. Me on Reason.TV.

2. Nicholson Baker whinges about Kindle.

3. North Korean beer commercial.

4. An intellectual journey with many stops (one of Brad DeLong's best posts).

5. Extending the "all you can eat" concept, and yet the law intervenes.  Or, "the culture that is Germany."

6. The Women's Leadership Fund, a new investment strategy.

7. More patently false claims about China.

8. Via Kottke, cats play Arnold Schoenberg's Op.11; I loved this one.


I think Baker is right about the superiority of reading on the iPhone w/ the Kindle App. I have the second generation Kindle device, but haven't used it since I got the App.

A nearby brewpub here has an All You Can Eat fish and chips deal on Friday nights -- the catch is that no reasonable person feels like a second helping after their first. AYCE(F?) brothels are genius for the same reason.

5. "...because they offer unlimited sex for a flat rate of between €70 and €100. That breaches the prostitutes' right to dignity, say politicians."

Yeah, please add the small notation, "people aren't as stupid as their government assertions make them sound."

6. Okay, this is why I don't mind things like high-frequency trading if it picks the pockets of large fund managers who pick winners with such nonsense.

"Was anyone else unable to make it to the end of the New Yorker bit on the Kindle 2?"

I stopped reading before the end of the second paragraph.

I've tried the Kindle iPhone app, but it's not nearly as nice as the Kindle. The screen is much smaller, it's less convenient to hold for long periods of time, and eInk is much better than LCD for long reading periods. Although it's nice in that I can read a few minutes if I have some free time while waiting in line or something, since they sync up your place in the book.

"He didn’t want to walk off the beach to get another book, and he didn’t want to lie on the beach and dig moist holes with his feet, thinking about the algorithmic beauty of seaweeds."


I blogged about this a while ago. At the link below you can find the short North Korean beer video as well as a longer 10 minute advertisement for a beer restaurant. I also posted the geographical location of the Taedonggang Brewerd--which was purchased in Britain, chopped up, shipped to Pyongyang, and reassembled. I should also mention it tastes pretty good.

I enjoyed DeLong's piece, even if it was slightly incoherent. A few more explicit transitions would have helped. I do have some points to add for anyone interested:

* "Computers" were people in real life, too, up until the 50s. Industrial firms like Boeing employed rooms full of 'em. Some of the parallel algorithms for linear algebra developed then are being resurected now for multi-processor and cluster systems.

* Holmes' argument comparing sterilization and the draft is interesting and persuasve, and does not deserve to be dismissed lightly. That does not mean that either practice is just, but hopefully both Delong and a wise latina realize that the role of the supreme court is not to decide what is just, but to decide what the constitution allows. There are myriad injustices allowed by the constituion; defferent eras choose to practice different injustices.

The Kindle really does hold tremendous promise. Think of Africa, where roads and transportation are terrible but cellphone service is already nearly universally available in even the smallest villages. Let's not get carried away with minor quibbles about an overly expensive first-generation device. Yes, we lost the art of illuminated manuscripts and handsome calligraphy when Gutenberg invented his newfangled printing press, but we gained much more.

In fairness to Mr. Baker, I think he simply had a mandate from his editor to write something wryly humorous at a given length, and he's more or less succeeded.

Have owned the original Kindle and the DX. Sold both, as I really don't like being held hostage to Amazon by renting books from them in the guise of buying. Now we're trying out the Sony PRS-505.

Predict Kindle will not sell well for college student use - students want textbooks on their laptops so they can annotate, copy and paste into papers, etc. Can't do all that with the Kindle. Students already carry their laptops - and phones - around everywhere.

Maybe the forthcoming Apple tablet will be of interest to students.

...China seems to be pursuing Krugman's prescription of stimulus...

With the emphasis on seems. China announced a big stimulus package, but it's not clear how much of that was just scheduled spending that the government decided to reclassify as "stimulus" for PR purposes. China doesn't publish complete and reliable goverment accounts, so it's not clear just how much they are spending, when and on what, however they choose to classify it. And China's economic statistics are notoriously unreliable, so it won't be clear what comes of it.


There is a logical disconnect between saying that Obama is a "smart guy" who "wants to do the right thing for the nation" on one hand, and saying he is taking us "off a cliff" fiscally. Yet you say both on REASON TV. That the interviewer did not REASON this out, srtikes me as unREASONable. It was his job challenge unREASON, so I blame him primarily in this.

The other point I would take issue with is your suggestion on the interview that free market thought finds no explanation for the financial meltdown. I think that the Austrians writ large, for example, were not at all surprised by the meltdown. Putting the blinders on to the Austrians, and others who were calling the meltdown in advance of its happening, is not only unwise, it overgeneralizes the ignorance of some free market economists to ALL free market economists. Ignore the Austrians if you like, but I can see no future in doing so.

As Ayn Rand encouraged objective thinkers, so I encourage you: "check you premises".

Spot on.

Tyler is really late to the party.

In passing, DeLong mentions E.E. Smith's fictional villain, who "will steal, will kill, will kidnap, but he will not lie: his word is good."

Interestingly, the same can be said of Sax Rohmer's insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, which dates from roughly the same time period (1913). This Victorian mindset, where a gentleman's word was his bond even if he was a villain, where a Mexican standoff could be ended by a verbal agreement, after which one side could put away their weapons confident that they could walk away unharmed... I wonder if it ever really existed other than in fiction? If it did, it surely did not survive long in the coarser post-World-War-I world. The spontaneous Christmas truce of 1914, where soldiers left their respective trenches to play soccer with one another, was perhaps its last gasp.

Incidentally, Dr. Fu Manchu was the prototypical Bond villain. An outwardly refined foreigner speaking perfect but accented English, armies of henchmen, secret lairs, insanely advanced technology entirely unknown to mainstream science, a plot to take over the world, opposed by a heroic Briton... it was all there.

"Computers" were people in real life, too, up until the 50s. Industrial firms like Boeing employed rooms full of 'em.

Yup. In fact, if you read Turings seminal papers, his notion of a computer is somone that computes. Essentially someone who applies a function that takes his operation from state A to B.

I wonder what would happen to all-you-can-f*** brothels in the USA.


No doubt appeal to those who already go to brothels and give those of us who don't one more reason to not patronize them.

But just as the blog was getting interesting, DeLong had to try and slip in an endorsement for Sotomayor. In a very strained reference he suggested that the "wise latina woman" would have a different take on former SCOTUS Justice Holmes support of forced sterilization for a mentally disabled woman.

Holmes problem was not that he was a while male, but that he was a progressive. Early 20th century progressives were generally fans of eugenics (including, for example, Margaret Sanger--founder of Planned Parenthood). But government-enforced genetic improvement was only a part of the progressive enthusiasm for expanded state power to 'improve' society and its citizens:

Eugene Debs v. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

This belief in the value of government power exercised 'for our own good' (e.g. Obama's obsession with obesity) is very much shared by modern progressives -- Sotomayor (and DeLong) included.


No. Philospher kings disgust me whenever they haven't the humility that "Dirty Harry" encouraged evildoers: "Man's GOT to know his limitations!"

Yes there is a logical disconnect to anyone smart enough to see that the Biblical warning that "pride goeth before a fall" is wisdom, and arrogant hubris is folly. Alternatively: If Obama is so smart and so deeply concerned for the welfare of our nation, then why in God's name would he be fiscally running us "off a cliff?"

Bottom line: If you can't dovetail Dirty Harry and the Bible, you better keep a close count on the number of bullets.

The only dissenter from Holmes' opinion in the sterilization case was Justice Butler, who was at the time the only Roman Catholic member of the Court. It is sometimes argued that this was not coincidental. How this might or might not connect to the "wise Latina" concept is an exercise left for the reader.

Yes, that is a useful exercise. Let's look at Justice Butler. From his Wiki Page:

While on the Court, Butler vigorously opposed regulation of business and the handing out of welfare by the government. He voted against many of fellow Democrat Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" laws that came before the Court, earning him a place among the so-called "Four Horsemen," which also included James Clark McReynolds, George Sutherland, and Willis Van Devanter. He wrote the majority (6-3) opinion in United States v. Schwimmer, where the Hungarian immigrant's application for citizenship was denied. In Palko v. Connecticut, he was the lone dissenter on the court; the rest of the justices believed that a state was not restrained from trying a man a second time for the same crime. Butler believed this violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Buck v. Bell, Butler was the only Justice who dissented from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s opinion holding that the forced sterilization of an allegedly "feeble-minded" woman in Virginia was constitutional. Although Butler dissented in both Buck and Palko, he did not write a dissenting opinion in either case; the practice of a Justice's noting a dissent without opinion was much more common then than it would be in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

So unlike Holmes (and unlike Sotomayor), Butler was generally skeptical of expanded government powers -- of which the sterilization of Carrie Buck was just one (particularly egregious) example.

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