Assorted links


It occurs to me that georgraphy-based dating apps like Tinder and Hinge have the potential to blow assortative mating out of the water. Figured I'd let you guys know.

No, it won't, since where people chose to live already promotes the same results.

#6: first you have to cash your paycheck, (already taking a check cashing fee hit), then you deposit it into game-pre-orders. then you have to remember to "withdraw" before the game comes out.

eh, i don't see how this is any better than keeping cash in an envelope under your mattress or something. If someone steals your pre-order receipts you'll lose your deposits, if someone pretended to be you, you could lose your deposits.

Now that I think about it, you could probably launder/transport alot of money by pre-ordering games. Cops would be suspicious if you have alot of cash in your car, but would they be suspicious of alot of pre-order receipts?

The Goldfinch American has a big portrait of J.G. Ballard right over the fireplace. Or is it a forge?

Tyler, you have missed the best article yet on Putin/Russia/Crimea:,0,4380144.column


I'm skeptical that this restaurant will be any good. There's an optimal amount of restaurant hipness well between 0 and 100%. Alinea, Atera, and Noma really do stand above stodgier places like Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon or Daniel Boulud. But the ultra-hipster restaurants like Relae, St. John and Blue Hill are grossly overrated.

Remember this is Detroit so there is not a lot of competition in this sort of thing. Many folks will be so amazed to get this level of dining that they will overlook the fact that it is steps below its global or even NYC-CHI-SF peers.

Plus, the secretive nature and exciting gimcrackery will make the food taste better than it really is.

What are you basing "this level of dining" on, the menu and price?

Detroit actually has plenty of very good food, especially Middle Eastern stuff. What they do not have is overpriced tasting menu options.The problem with a $121 dinner is that it can almost not be good enough to be worth it. There are actually people in Detroit (and the area) with enough money to blow on this, especially with low housing costs, but they generally don't because it feels foolish. I wish them luck, but I think there is much cooler stuff happening in the city.


Yes, choosing that price point, a fixed menu, the "fussiness" of the ingredients on the menu signals that they are attempting to place themselves in a particular class. I will not go to this restaurant, although I might go to a similar one in a large city.

I agree on the ethnic and other food in Detroit. You can cheaply eat at a different and very good Middle Eastern / Lebanese each day for months. Truly a standout in the area. One can also find very good and authentic Japanese and Korean (auto industry transplants), Polish, and Mexican. Note that it is very easy to find what you think is a good, authentic mexican restaurant and discover it is a lard-filled, canned-salsa-having tourist trap, especially in Mexicantown, but authentic places can be found, even with "secret menus" and the like. There are at least two good BBQ places, but BBQ can inspire a religious war.

Detroit also benefits from the excellent greater Michigan craft brewing, which is in the top five (top three?) in the country, the others being California and Colorado; a big local-food, farm market scene; and lots of low-rent strip malls.

There is a particular kind-of rundown strip, west Washtenaw Ave in Ypsilanti, with good low-priced Lebanese, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Vietnamese, plus passable Indian, and a well-stocked, low-english Chinese grocery. Plus great espresso, and a $3 car wash. Love it. Between EMU and US23.

Re #6: See also:

Choice quotes:

" turned out that most people had dozens of people with whom they carried either a Caffeinator debt or a Caffeinator credit, and I came up with a way to allow people to simplify their credit/debt situation by reassigning debt."

"[T]he first implementation required people to declare their own debt"

"My last enhancement to Caffeinator was to allow people to opt out of debt reassignment. That seemed to stop most of the gaming."

"And that's how I set out to simplify ordering Starbucks and created an internal banking system."

"The gamestop people are starting to catch on that I'm just moving money around and only buying one preordered game a year, if that, but there isn't shit they can do about it. T"

I wonder why they can't do anything about it

I'm guessing the poster is young and under the mistaken belief that local GameStop managers can't vary from corporate policy.

It's possible they have already done something, like charged hidden fees that the "depositors" haven't caught on to, because no bank regulations.

"5. Does the measured financial cost of natural disasters rise with wealth? "

That was a well developed statistically based article. I'm beginning to the think that the new 538 site might turn out to be a success.

“5. Does the measured financial cost of natural disasters rise with wealth?”

Is it me, or is the answer 'duh'? I suppose a rigorous statistical demonstration of this is helpful, but I already knew that anyone who has been unthinkingly pointing to the trend of $ impacts of natural disasters as evidence of increasing severity, aka climate change, is dumb or dishonest.

It didn't do much for me either; I clicked the link hoping for something more provocative. I've seen more interesting anecdotal financial analysis, stemming from the history of rebuilds of the Grand Isles, Louisiana. Each time a hurricane levels the place, the new structures are more substantial, either because of regulatory compliance or the new money to invest in a rebuild wants a better guarantee on return of investment. And then another hurricane comes again. Rinse, recycle, repeat, powered with taxpayer subsidies.

"Is it me, or is the answer ‘duh’? "

No, I agree the answer is obvious, but I've been asked to "prove" my stance before. But. there are very few sources that lay it out at as well as this article did.

"I already knew that anyone who has been unthinkingly pointing to the trend of $ impacts of natural disasters as evidence of increasing severity, aka climate change, is dumb or dishonest."

I don't disagree, but there's this:

"Under Executive Order 13514, President Obama directed Federal agencies to cut waste, pollution, and costs in Federal operations and to evaluate agency climate risks to protect taxpayer investments and ensure they can continue to meet their mission and serve the American public in the face of a changing climate.

In February 2013, Federal agencies released their first-ever Climate Change Adaptation Plans, outlining strategies to reduce the vulnerability of Federal programs, assets, and investments to the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise or more frequent or severe extreme weather."


For those unaware, there is actually a micro-gentrification going on in Detroit's downtown, midtown and corktown neighborhoods. By which I mean, a strip of four restaurants, a bar and a coffee roaster on the same block, in Corktown for example (where this restaurant will surely be located).

Bunch of startups in the cheap-but-urban real estate downtown too.

Do not confuse this for a broad-based recovery of Detroit or anything like it. IMO the best thing to do with Detroit is to move everyone into the core neighborhoods and fence off 70% of it. Maybe just give the 70% to institutional bondholders to see if they can do something with it. Not that that or anything like it will happen.

4. Stopped reading when he repeated that canard about the welfare state being rolled back over the past thirty years. Welfare state spending is at an all-time high, not only in %GDP terms, but especially in real terms. How can I trust anything he says when he gets something that easy to check that badly wrong?

He said that there has been efforts to roll it back, not that any of the efforts have actually succeeded :p

Be that as it may, it's not a helpful article, and I don't see why Tyler linked to it.

Maybe Beito is calling for an 'almshouse' vision, but this is quite far from any realistic policy discussion. Deliberate blurring of New Deal (Social Security, aka real social insurance), which does the bulk of the heavy lifting, and the Great Society rest of the welfare state is ridiculous. When Bush wanted to 'use his political capital' to tinker with Social Security after the 2004 election, he got his ass handed to him. Is Paul Ryan or anyone serious in the Republican Party itching for this fight again? If so, they're idiots. But I don't think they are. So, to me, the author is picking a rigged fight here.

It's not obvious that combining Socital security with Great Society programs is ridiculous. They're both part of the "Four Horseman" that he mentions repeatedly as the pillars of social insurance. For that matter, so is the ACA. If you have a substantive argument for why they are so different, can you state it more explicitly?

I stopped reading after the first paragraph ended with a strawman of enormous proportions.

I'm not sure that anyone has ever claimed that private charity has ever provided everything people needed. You notice, none of his quotes or examples come close to making that claim.

Quite clearly, public charity doesn't provide that now either, and nor is it a binary either-or choice. The question is which is more efficient, and what kind of disincentives and moral hazards each creates (not that private charity is immune from either).

Olasky (the self-professed founder of "compassionate conservatism"), in "The Tragedy of American Compassion," pretty clearly stated that the responsibility for caring for the poor should be moved away from the government to individuals and private organizations, such as churches. Given his perspective on things, I think he might actually mean _everything_.

The Roodman book review asks a very important question: Where do enforced rights come from? And he is correct to highlight the differences between the otherwise similar Acemoglu/Johnson story of institutions and North, Wallis, and Weingast. While the former naively talk of inclusiveness vs extractive institutions, NWW ground the problem in the search for order among competitive elites seeking to limit violent conflict. Thus, the search for a functional political economy is limited by the constraints of Darwinian political evolution, which in turn limits liberal policies. Attempting to enforce liberal laws, property rights, or liberal democracy without solving the underlying order problems leads to the conflicts we see in Ukraine or Iraq. And Western scholars are especially loathe to ask the question, under what conditions is a strong man dictatorship preferable to an unsustainable liberal order? The fact that we have no easy answer doesn't mean the question shouldn't be taken more seriously.

3. James Meek

misses one point. Even if all 'forces' in his model of situation are described correctly, then there were still real chances in the past to make things easier ( and who knows less costly ) for west now.

example see how things are different due to application of 'soft power':

if what is said in article is clear, then it is clear how things could be affected:
namely - to have more ties with ordinary Russians/Ukranians in the past, so not all those with democratic views were out of politics. When almost everyone believes in democracy it is difficult to sideline everyone.

But no one bothered really.

Still again - it is possible to help for the future.
Now it is possible to launch large scale online educational courses for russians/ukranians ( in place of now inefficient Radio Free Europe and Voice of America ( no one listens to radio and then visits their sites ) and for quite a minor money change situation for better in coming years.

But still americans would rather pretend, that it better to lose more, but to do nothing, because there are few or even no american interest at all in what happens in Ukrainian/Russian relationships, as Tyler proclaimed.

But, of cause, americans could make a lot of difference ( first allow foreigners to buy shares during privatizations - this was not done, instead it was recommended by Andrey Shleifer team not to involve foreigners into privatization process, so much fewer internal pressure for Putin from foreign partners that it could be, and Putin understands pressure ) in the past, they can do something now for their own benefit ( less loses ) in future.

A substantial portion of U.S. foreign aid to Ukraine involves educating in "rule of law" issues, which includes programs to bring people involved in the legal system to the U.S. to learn about how our system functions, including the opportunity to ask questions of judges, lawyers and regular people. There is a delegation from Ukraine coming to my city for a week, starting tomorrow. I believe the specific program is open to all of the former Soviet block countries, including Russia.

"... so not all those with democratic views were out of politics."

Yeah, democratic views make a big difference.

In the cost of disaster scenario the cost goes from 100 to almost 200 in about 20 years.

That is about a 3.5% compound rate of growth and 3.5% may be a good first approximation of world real gdp growth, but if anything 3.5% is probably too low.

His thesis that development means that when a disaster hits there is more property damage is probably correct.

If so, shouldn't the growth in property damage be greater than the growth of real GDP?

Shouldn't it be more like the growth in nominal GDP?

Arguably, there is a bit of a countervailing trend- richer people can, e.g., build better fortifications, earthquake resistant buildings etc.

This may offset the nominal/real difference. Just a half-assed theory though.

#2. This is why we need open borders.

One thing missing in the Japan of the 1950s compared to now is extreme plastic surgery to look white.

#4...On first reading Mike Konczal's Post, I had to agree that it does seem to feature, if not a Straw Man, a Straw Child. But that's reading it as being about what I call "Politics", where the real possibility of changing the size of the Welfare State is remote. Reading the Post as "Political Theory", however, makes the discussion of David Beito's Book more interesting and relevant, if only because it reminds us that not every idea thrown out and grasped in the public sphere is even possibly useful.
On the other hand, there is a point to "Political Theory" and clarifying ideas, often through reinterpreting history, which might get me to read Beito's Book even though I doubt it will have much to tell me about current policy choices. I don't think anyone should have simply stopped reading Konczal's Post, if they really did.

#1: photo No. 10, some people really believe that if life gives you lemons you make lemonade........I'm not that strong, respect.

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