Assorted links

1. The Bento box culture that is Japan.

2. The Funeral Law Blog.

3. Timothy Lee on the usefulness of Bitcoin.

4. The smart toothbrush: “A new smart toothbrush unveiled this week could monitor how well you brush your teeth, and could one day be used to send data back to your dentist. Oral B’s Smartseries toothbrush, which launched in the UK in June priced at £199, sends data back to a smartphone app recording how many brushstrokes are used, targeting problem areas and following personalised brushing routines.”

5. Tongue-controlled ear computer, Japan.

6. Jack Matlock posts about Ukraine.

7. What PBOC is up to.


My home keeps going up
Is it a bubble? Absolutely not. You can always build outward, but there is a very scarce supply of home in the epicenter of the Silicon Valley.

The Krugster is still wrong

Obama approval at new lows

success and genetic heritability

left leaning response
Is it a tragedy? no, it's reality.

Can you please quickly take your friends and "exit" - as explained by that charming Indian chap with the BA, MA and PhD from Stanford? You're insufferable.

I'd like as a general note to applaud Tyler Cowen for offering the main source I've found of intelligent bearishness and criticism regarding Bitcoin and cryptos. I'm extremely bullish, enough to be investing much effort and minor but not-insignificant on an individual level funds in crypto projects. Most of the criticism isn't even worthwhile to read, attacking one joke of an exchange, volatility as if that is an inherent feature and not a contingency, and just a whole lot of dumbass mood affiliation against low-tier Internet Libertarians and White/Asian/Indian/Arab people with STEM skills. Here and generally in the articles linked it's worth reading.

Yes, absolutely, and Timothy B. Lee has been one of the few in the media who written intelligently about Bitcoin

Could you give even one example of something Tyler_Cowen said about bitcoin that make actually stop and say, "wow, I didn't think of that before, that's a good point!"

Because I can't think of any.

I honestly don't usually particularly remember where I read everything, so it's more an overall impression over time. He seems to be investigating the topic, rather than laughing at contingent and specific misfortunes as if they damn the whole idea while refusing to learn about or try the thing they are covering. One specific I recall was actually an instance of him being wrong - the post about an unlimited number of competing coins was off the mark, like I didn't really evaluate the economic bits (not like I'm qualified) because I could see the fundamental error. Then a day or so later I actually see another post where he's been told or discovered his error, because people cannot create practical coins without limit - others will only use a coin with a decent amount of scarce computing power backing it. The regular news I see them just making bad arguments again and again. So many - I've seen enough articles, like, yesterday, strongly implying BTC cratered with Gox, not the actual panic selling to $400 followed by a quick recovery in under a day.

6 - As Putin rolls over Ukraine and Obama, it's interesting to see the lefty media circling the wagons around a new central idea: "You know... Ukraine isn't really even a country, anyway! Let's not get all knee-jerky and hyperbolic about all this."

Next up: "You know, Ukraine could probably use some external guidance."

And if Obama had gone into Syria and/or Ukraine you'd be posting how Obama is a dangerous warmonger going at Putin.

In other words, posters with ODS have nothing of use to say. Same with BDS.

As long as we don't send troops to the Ukraine, I fine with whatever diplomatic gobspeak the administration wants to say.


shorter #6 -- anywhere in the world, no matter what goes wrong and no matter how little influence the US has, someone will claim empty rhetoric from the US made it worse.

In reality Vladimir Putin has made it quite clear he doesn't care what Americans say.

>Putin has made it quite clear he doesn’t care what Americans say.

This is 100% correct.
Some would find this fact notable, newsworthy, and even disturbing.
Not the NYT crowd of course. Forward!

Or some would remember 2008, and Georgia - 'My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression.'

And then Putin ignored this - 'Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory," he said in a morning statement.'

But then, who cares about McCain anyways?

Well, the Georgians did - 'WASHINGTON — John McCain's chief foreign policy adviser and his business partner lobbied the senator or his staff on 49 occasions in a 3 1/2-year span while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

The payments raise ethical questions about the intersection of Randy Scheunemann's personal financial interests and his advice to the Republican presidential candidate who is seizing on Russian aggression in Georgia as a campaign issue.

McCain warned Russian leaders Tuesday that their assault in Georgia risks "the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world."'

#4 (why try to resist?): without access to Smart Toothpaste, Smart Dental Floss, and Smart Mouthwash, any purchaser of the Smart Toothbrush is simply going to remain Stupid.

The much-hyped 'Internet of Things' has yet to demonstrate a convincing value proposition. This seems like another toy for the rich that you'd find in that catalog they leave in your seatback pocket, next to the air sickness bag.

#6 - Excellent. This type of nuanced thinking informed by history is what is generally missing from US foreign policy.

#4 - Ever wondered what would happen if your employer's heath care plan finds out that you're not brushing your teeth properly?

"Obama’s 'warning' to Putin was ill-advised. Whatever slim hope that Moscow might avoid overt military intervention in Ukraine disappeared when Obama in effect threw down a gauntlet and challenged him."

Obama said that he would negotiate with the rest of the world regarding the language of a letter they would send to Putin containing the prediction that this would not go well for him.

Geez! How's he going to walk that one back?

I doubt Obama's ill considered statement really changed the situation. I believe Putin would have committed forces to the Crimea regardless of the content of the statement.

However, Obama's statement was poorly thought out. It came across as powerless blustering.

Even a liberal like Tina Brown had this to say yesterday:

"And you think, "Well, what then?" You have to have this follow-up. What I do think does need to keep outfoxing Obama, is a real reading of who Putin really is.

It's almost as if Putin is brilliant, really. I mean, he's sort of outfoxing Obama all the time. He's very clear. And the reason that he wins in a way is that he's the only one who knows what he thinks. He's utterly clear. He's clear, he wants to increase Russian power."

What should the US be doing then? Pretend the evil foreign commie Muslim black guy isn't president, you are. Tell us what we should be doing here, or in Syria?

If you say nuke em all, well, good luck with that. Also, good luck with 'let's go fight another war'.

Could fight a proxy war. Drones and guns and all that but no troops. You can do a lot by remote now adays. Not that i think thats a good idea, but there are many grades of ‘let’s go fight another war’.

Well ok sure, but as you said not a good idea. In other words, are there any good ideas besides what Obama's been doing, which is stay out of it?

My point is staying out of it is the best choice, both for Ukraine and Syria, other than diplomatic posturing and behind the scenes deal making. Which is what Obama has been doing.

Those that criticize him would do so no matter what he did. I'm curious what they think he should be doing instead.

"What should the US be doing then?"

I don't see why the US needs to do anything more than condemn Russian aggression. However, Obama's warning Putin "that there will be costs" comes across as hopelessly impotent. It certainly didn't slow down the Russian invasion. So, maybe you should be asking President Obama what he plans to do?

"Pretend the evil foreign commie Muslim black guy isn’t president, you are."

Perhaps, it's time for you to consider getting outside and going for a walk.

He's doing exactly what you say, condemning the aggression. What, it would be LESS impotent is he didn't say anything about costs? Something like 'we really condemn this...anyway what else should we talk about?'

It's all words, no guns, which is exactly the right call. So Obama is doing something right here. Right, guys?
He did right in Syria too, although as Anti-Gnostic pointed out in another thread he kind of wanted to do some bombing but Congress stopped him.

"He did right in Syria too, although as Anti-Gnostic pointed out in another thread he kind of wanted to do some bombing but Congress stopped him."

How was Congress stopping him from a bombing campaign, the right call on Obama's part?

A-G posted this to me in the 'credibility' thread:

“On September 1, President Obama laid out the case for a targeted military action against Syrian regime targets as a result of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons that killed over one thousand people–including hundreds of children. The President also made clear that this would not be an open-ended intervention, and there will be no American troops on the ground. Instead, our action would be limited in duration and scope.

The President has put forward a proposed authorization that is focused on his clearly stated objectives – preventing and deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons within, to, or from Syria; degrading the Assad regime’s capacity to carry out future chemical weapons attacks; and deterring this behavior in others – including Iran and Hizballah – who would otherwise feel emboldened to use such weapons.

While the President was clear on the need for action, he announced he would seek Congressional authorization for the use of force.

On September 3, following his September 1 announcement, President Obama met with Congressional leaders at the White House to discuss his plan for military action.

On September 7, in his weekly address, President Obama makes the case for limited and targeted military action to hold the Assad regime accountable for its violation of international norms prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.

On September 9, Ambassador Rice laid out the case for the damage that would be done to our national security and that of our partners and allies should we fail to respond to enforce the longstanding international norm against the use of chemical weapons.”

To Obama’s credit, he is not particularly engaged in foreign policy, being far more concerned with distributing largesse to key Democrat-voting groups and visiting the critically important nations of Indonesia and Kenya. That doesn’t leave a lot of time and energy for worrying about the foreign commitments made by old, white Cold Warriors.
- See more at:

The bento box pictures made me laugh. I recently saw a Japanese women interviewed where she presented her bento box kit and a couple of sample bento boxes. According to her, Japanese mothers do indeed use them to prepare fairly elaborate lunches for their children. Signaling what?
Here are some instructions:

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