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Number 2: I do wish people would stop saying "random" when they mean haphazard.

Random means haphazard. The fact that it may have a more precise definition in fields like mathematics and statistics doesn't mean that the common usage is incorrect.

Steve Broadberry's critique of Why Nation's Fail at its WEHC book launch in Cape Town last month left Robinson flat footed. So far as I know it wasn't videotaped, which was a pity.

2. I wish they'd argue less and write more. And I don't mean writing down arguments.

4. These people really need a proper charcoal kiln. I guess I should read Why Nations Fail to find out why they don't have one.

@Making charcoal in Ulingan slum, the Philippines – in pictures --> the market for this is roadside grills. For every pound of charcoal something like 10 pounds of wood is wasted. A crying shame, but consider that the entire GDP of the Philippines, with 100M people, is less than the greater Atlanta USA region. I bet, like the English chimney sweepers, that skin cancer and cancer overall is common with these charcoal burners.

5. The future of drones is more and better drones.

Aircraft speed and maneuverability has already surpassed the bounds of human tolerance. Cockpits and life support systems are a horrible waste of space, shape, size, energy and weight. The mere presence of the pilot increases the cost of risk taking. Pilot training for unmanned aerial vehicles would be much less physically demanding.

Passenger aircraft will still have to accommodate humans because that's their raison d'etre, but fighter, bomber, and reconnaissance aircraft will probably all be remotely piloted soon unless the appeal to tradition slows down that development.

Consequently, air defense systems will rise from the grave with new technology to find and destroy stealthy unmanned vehicles or jam their communications.

Reminds me of the movie Terminator.

Drones will finally mean the end of aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers are great big slow-moving targets. Drones can be launched and recovered by submarines. Of course, the aircraft carrier lobby will keep them around long after they're obsolete. If battleships are any guide, aircraft carriers will be kept around for 30 years too long -- which is one generation time. Supporters of aircraft carriers can't be converted, they can only die.

Submarines! Now there's a cheap alternative...

Maybe we can just hope for something that should have been done 30 years ago for manned aircraft: smaller carriers. America would be a lot better off with three times as many Marine Corp style carriers as current supercarriers, whether facing China in a big war or just practicing gunboat diplomacy. If that means a move to slightly less capable VSTOL aircraft, that seems a small price to pay for much better fleet survivability and greater operational flexibility.

I agree with you in principal, but I suspect that (1) submarines are not the best alternative, although they should grow in relative importance, and (2) the drones won't stay small for long. They're only small now to avoid the appearance of competing with manned aircraft for funds.

3. Olympic predictions. I keep reading about poor performance by athletes from India and Bangladesh, but no one mentions that their bodies are just not built for sports requiring speed and power. I used to live in the little India of Silicon Valley - Sunnyvale - and the Indians tended to have skinny legs and arms, no butts, and flab around their mid-sections. Maybe it's their vegetarian diets (excluding Indian muslims), but they have poor genetics when it comes to athletics. Even the more fit young Indian I've seen carry excess fat around their stomachs.

Most Indians aren't vegetarians. I believe vegetarianism is more prevalent among the Brahmin minority. I got some (possibly inaccurate) percentages by region here.

Isn't this classical skewed sampling. The nerds who end up in Silicon Valley are unlikely to be India's brawny best.

The Silicon Valley area has long produced a disproportionate number of American Olympians.

I bet if Cricket were added to the Olympics their medal count would go up.

2.
Tyler recently gave a link to Rodrik new paper on unconditional convergence in industry ( more here http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2012/07/more-on-manufacturing-convergence.html )( which implies - not much dependance on institutions ). Now I wait a response, that when institutions are controlled, then there are no unconditional convergence ;)

Actually Rodrik's paper supports institutional arguments since you only have unconditional convergence in industry, which is the part of the economy most open to globalization (relative to agriculture). Institutions determine the extent to which governments allow a flow from one sector to the next so economic divergence is explained by those countries that throttle rural-labor and ag-industry migration and investment.

it partially supports institutional argument, but makes a story obviously more complicated than flow of first institutions, then development like authors try to show, because in developing countries some have 50% of gdp in industry (max 35% in developed countries ) and this actually a huge affecting factor. See Japan - it still lags in agriculture and services productivity, but is it developed country or not?

We're crossing the bridge to a very unpleasant place when we embrace the concept of industrial-grade surveillance/murder that's implicit in the use of drones. Perhaps the economists will find favor with the optimum use of resources, specialization of labor and low externalities but any human with the most primitive moral compass must be aghast upon reflection on this new dimension of state terror. On Aug. 1, Forbes website published the umpteenth justification for the US use of nuclear weapons on Japan in 1945, a rehash by the demented Henry I. Miller of all the previous arguments for incinerating thousands of people unlucky enough to have been born in Japan prior to that year. href="http://http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrymiller/2012/08/01/the-nuking-of-japan-was-a-tactical-and-moral-imperative/.html" Pushing a button to kill another human thousands of miles away on the orders of some politician is behavior on the most monstrous level and shows the moral bankruptcy of a society that considers itself, as so many others have, the most advanced on earth. Of course, this strategy won't be, and even now isn't, limited to foreign conflicts. Surveillance of all kinds, and instant response to unapproved behavior, will become the norm domestically as well, because it's both effective and economical. But, Quis Custodiet Ipso Custodes?

One interesting use for drones out here in Colorado is search & rescue for lost hikers. It's faster and cheaper than sending a team on foot or in helicopters.

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