Assorted links

1. Particle physics developments from 2011,  a busy year.

2. Are we reaching “peak text”?


4. Why are there no economists who have turned down British honours?

5. What cities do top musical tracks come from?  And is there now an Uighur [Uyghur] restaurant in Anacostia?  Please let me know if you know more about this, in the comments would be fine.

6. Timothy Snyder critique of Pinker.


Oon't know about the place in Anacostia, as I don't live in DC, but Eugene Volokh recently had a review of some Uighur cuisine from an LA-based joint:

In 2005 I ate at at Uighur restaurant in Beijing. I remember the food being good, particularly the horse.

Uighur kabobs are fantastic


"But ask yourself: Is it preferable for ten people in a group of 1,000 to die violent deaths or for ten million in a group of one billion? For Pinker, the two scenarios are exactly the same, since in both, an individual person has a 99 percent chance of dying peacefully. Yet in making a moral estimate about the two outcomes, one might also consider the extinction of more individual lives, one after another, and the grief of more families of mourners, one after another."

Ridiculous. Even in a completely peaceful world, virtually *everybody* experiences the painful loss of loved ones eventually. To follow this logic, a smaller population is inherently better because there is less total grief and mourning (and by extension, the ideal human population would be zero).

"We are different from the Nazis and the Soviets not because we have more self-control -- we don't. We are different largely because postwar improvements in agricultural technology have provided the West with reliable supplies of food, our massive consumption of which says much about our limited self-control."

Beyond ridiculous. Nazism didn't arise in Germany because of primitive agricultural technology, and 'effing Stalin *caused* the famines that killed millions.

I fully agree with you.
The Nazi's war of aggression was not born out of any necessity, neither for food, land or anything else. Germany was undergoing a depression in the early 30s (like much of the world back then) when the Nazis came to power, but not in 1939 when Germany attacked Poland and started World War 2.

If nothing else, 10 million deaths among 1 billion people isn't an existential threat to the group. 10 among 1000 could be. Yes, the ideal human population if this flawed logic holds is close enough to zero, essentially insufficient to ensure healthy genetic diversity.

Text Messaging Is in Decline in Some Countries

Not if the female population between about 9 and 21 is growing. (I'm a father of 2 daughters, and a few years ago I was astounded to discover firsthand that the reports of middle and high school girls sending more than 5,000 text messages per month were accurate.)

Also, as the article points out, many text messaging is moving to free apps on smartphones, like WhatsApp - which are also free to use.

If your daughters are hot, I would like to leave my number for texts. :-)

Are you a teenaged girl?

If you are a male, you need at least 4 daughters. Maybe 5 or 6 daughters.

Hmmm...that's pretty creepy Andreas. Into teenagers are we? Along with strip chess?

anon, I read the "Teen Girl Brain" chapter in *The Female Brain* book by Dr. Louann Brizendine last night. (I am already worried about the havoc my six year old daughter is going to wreak on me as a teenager.) Text messages are just a new form of girl bonding...which is nothing new and is an important stage of development.

Andreas, I actually read her sequel *The Male Brain* first in an attempt to understand your kind of humor. May need to read it more than once.

(I am already worried about the havoc my six year old daughter is going to wreak on me as a teenager.)

A few friends insist that as parents we tend to get the same treatment by our children as we gave our parents. (These same friends also say that grandparents and grandchildren like each other so much because they have an enemy in common....)

Speaking as a male, having daughters is one of the best things that ever happened to me (I have sisters and have had female friends since I was a little kid).

I didn't use text messaging until my daughters got cell phones. Now I prefer text messaging.

"we tend to get the same treatment by our children as we gave our parents"

I think that's probably right...I should not have laughed off the stories of my husband's pranks as a youngster. (I was a "good kid".) So next time she tells me f-off (only once so far) I won't let my husband blame me for it. Of course, there are many, many enjoyable moments with kids to make up for the few bumps.

I think #2 is finding evidence of peak phone gifting. (note that Scandinavia gifts on the eve)

Economists and British Honours. Well, one reason is that there are no electricians, military men, businessmen who have refused them. That wikipedia page gives some hundreds who have refused, yes, but there are roughly 1800 a year who are given them. And that list of refusals goes back over a century. So refusal is pretty rare anyway and the idea that one or another profession won't be in the list of refuseniks isn't all that surprising.

But there is more. Further reasons in fact.
1) One reason for an economist to get a gong would be that they were a senior academic at a senior institution. Taking such senior positions (Master of a College, that sort of thing) is the sort of thing that is done by those who would love a gong.
2) Gongs are handed out for those who conduct reports, inquiries, into this or that at the behest of government. It's the traditional (umm, bribe is too strong a word. Incentive perhaps) to bring in the result expected from this enquiry or commission. If you bring in the wrong result, the one the government of the day does not desire, then you won't be offered one. Bring in the right result, well, why would you refuse your incentive? And yes, economists are often the people asked to run such enquiries.
3) Nobel Winners get Knighthoods. The two Russian immigrants who discovered graphene got them last week for example (2011's Physics Nobel). Thus Sir John Mirrlees. An Econ Nobel for a Brit is rare enough for it not to be all that surprising that it doesn't overlap with the refuseniks (see 1).
4) The top gong is a peerage. To become a Lord. And the best method of getting a peerage is to be involved in politics. Be an advisor to a political party for example. Be one of the backroom boys. Writing the party economic policy. Now, if you're then offered one, you wouldn't refuse. For a peerage is more than a title. It's also the equivalent of Senator for life. And you've just spent your working life in politics and here's free entry into the legislature, no elections ever and $70,000 (or so) a year in tax free expenses for the rest of your life? Thus, say, my old professor, Lord Layard, (not motivated by the money at all BTW) who was a policy former for the Labour Party for decades.

To translate this to American: Krugman would be a Sir, for the Nobel. But if Romney became President, then Mankiw would be a Lord. You know, here's the gong for the Swedish thing but here's membership of the legislature for my backroom economic advisor.

>>>one reason is that there are no electricians, military men, businessmen who have refused them. <<<

You seem mistaken: There are several that seem to be businessman on the list of refusals: Garfield Weston, Bernie Ecclestone, John Grubb Richardson, Essington Lewis etc.

There seem several military men too. ( I must admit had never heard of any of them before.)

#4 has a simple explanation.

1)British honours only go out to economists who support central banking. This is obvious.
2) economist who support central bankers like prestige more than they like rigid moral principles.

2. People are texting one another as much as ever. The only thing that's declining is phone carriers' revenue from it, because there are now ways to bypass them. The link itself says as much (antepenultimate paragraph)

Serves them right. Text messages were billed at a huge premium on what it cost them to provide.

Yep. Phone carriers stumbled on a massive source of revenue and tried to pretend that the market wouldn't force down the cost of transferring that type of data like it did every other type of data. Of course, the market did, and since they never brought their prices down it's now threatening to cut them off altogether.

The list might be incomplete. I think I read an interview with Niall Ferguson recently where he said he rejected some sort of honour, and he's not on the list.

[Also, Ferguson has been described as 'practising economics without a licence', so maybe he would count...]

#4 - Uhhh..because they're economists? It's a profession that exists to defend the interests of the rich and powerful it would literally be a contradiction for an economists to turn down royal honours

Washington could use a good Uighur restaurant, although Tyler must be disappointed that it is not in a suburban mall. Almost as exotic as North Korean, although not quite as much so. Best one I have been to was at east end of Sydney's Chinatown (!), where there are several.

peek text? no , they use blackberry

The particle physics news seems mostly to consist of getting excited about false signals, confirming 40 year old physics, theorists not being able to predict anything we don't already know and experimentalists not being very good at doing neutrino experiments. Pretty crappy year (and typical) if you ask me!

What would count as exciting in your view? Your comment "seems" to consist mainly of claims that unexpected findings are "false" and that confirmations of existing findings as boring.

Claims of new particles that are not confirmed by other better designed experiments or more careful analysis are false not "false". Further confirmation of the standard model is, in fact, very boring.

Finding physics outside of the standard model that's not an experimental mistake would be moderately exciting. Finding out what dark matter is would be pretty neat (even if its part of the standard model).

5. only measures a small, frequently intolerable slice of "top musical tracks."

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