Assorted links

1. Do you beam with pride or get upset at this article about young, rich philanthropists being courted by the White House?

2. Profile of Thomas Piketty.

3. As a kid I enjoyed Dodgeball.  I still remember me and Jimmy Wainwright being the last two guys on the floor.  (Sadly, Jimmy caught my rather unconvincing fifth grade toss.)   This article calls it “America’s most demonized sport,” but they don’t seem to have heard of the game we used to call “Kill the guy with the ball.”

4. CDs vs. vinyl, I say CDs have higher average quality but vinyl has higher peaks for the very best classical music.

5. Why do economics majors earn so much?  And economics humor.

6. Are babies a performance-enhancing drug?


No one uses CDs anymore. Debate should currently be mp3 vs. vinyl.

#6...I think you should rephrase the teaser to "Is having a baby a performance enhancing drug?" I was disappointed by the story given the teaser.

#1...I'm guessing the event was actually a mixer. It makes sense that billionaires get used to visiting the White House.

1. I think it's a great idea, both for philanthropy and for the Democrats. Rich heirs can be surprisingly liberal, particularly since they tend not to be as affected by tax increases as new rich people - if all else fails, they can shovel most of their wealth into tax-free municipal bonds.

#3 We had a version as kids played with a harder version of a tennis ball but with a larger field. Dang that used to hurt.

If they are buying muni bonds, then r<g.

#2 : The New York Times asserts that "He is a member of no political party, and says he never served as an economic adviser to any politician." But says, about Thomas Piketty, that (in French) "Proche du Parti socialiste, sans en être membre, il a participé à la commission économique du Parti socialiste de 1995 à 1997 ; lors de la campagne présidentielle 2007, il s'est engagé en faveur de Ségolène Royal, dont il était conseiller économique. D'après la liste arrêtée au 11 novembre 2003, il est membre du Comité d'orientation scientifique de l'association « À gauche en Europe » fondée par Michel Rocard et Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Le 17 avril 2012 il publie, avec d'autres économistes, un texte de soutien à François Hollande dans Le Monde."

Apparently he also hits women.

#3: Dodgeballs have gotten a lot softer than I remember, and they were never very hard. They used to be inflated rubber and now they're nerd covered with some sort of impermeable skin. See, for example, .

I get it that they might have used kickballs or some such and that maybe even in the sixties they had softer alternatives, but I can't take the "pain" of getting hit by a dodgeball seriously. But then, maybe I'm an outlier. I fence, usually without a groin cup. It's a lousy target and people don't shoot for the groin. About half of us male fencers wear them, and I'm dreading the day that the authorities decide to require them at tournaments.


That sounds like a bad policy. Of course I was also surprised to learn that the vast majority of NFL players don't wear cups.

Dodgeballs stung but were hardly dangerous. They suck for glasses wearers though

As an aside, look how much things have changed. We called the version of dodge ball where the goal was to hit people hard "murder ball" . I can't imagine that being allowed in todays "school/prisons" but than again back in those days, during late peak America kids were allowed and expected to create their own subculture. Adults were amused by things generationally in common but otherwise as I recall did not consider it their business unless conduct was dangerous or illegal.

#1: Congress, religion and foreign threats have diminished as sources of change in the US. These days business, social and ideological media, and philanthropists are playing ever larger roles.

I don’t beam with pride* about this convening of young money, but I think it is good that the White House recognizes this new landscape and is seeking to find those synergies, if even it’s mostly just between the rich kids themselves. Lots of public/private partnerships go nowhere, but they are occasionally very effective and many rich people have a “see what sticks” approach to their philanthropic projects.

*I assume that framing was meant to sound sarcastic, because why should rich people talk to politicians? So distasteful…

#4 Vinyl handling higher peaks than CD (especially for classical) is wrong for the simple reason that the noise floor for vinyl suffers a 20 db loss compared to CD, even with using the best 100% virgin vinyl, half-speed mastering, and not pressing the the living crap out of stampers (In the 1970's reground vinyl (Aka, noisy) was the norm for pressing, hence the rise of companies like Nautilius, Sheffield, and Mobile Fidelity until the CD put the initial knife into vinyl-the late 1970s-early 1980s was a real bad time to be buying classical LPs domestically.).The only thing that may come close is a direct-to-disc recording-but the engineers capable of doing that have long retired or have passed on. And let's not forget that pesky non-linear RIAA curve (which is non-existent for digital), which is the price of admission for vinyl. Lastly, current mainstream electronics have no support for phono inputs (save Yamaha, whose phono sections aren't bad, albeit it's moving magnet only.)

If you're going to rip your CD's / record your records to a digital media, I've come to the conclusion that your best bet is either Windows Media 9.2 losless or FLAC, depending on the support of your target devices. If you must use a lossy codec, bypass MP3 and go AAC at 320-400 kbps.

I would be willing to bet that in a blind listening test, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between any of those fancy formats and a 256K MP3.

This outfit will rip your CDs or albums to FLAC (or whatever format) and store the music in the cloud. You can stream them on Sonos, etc.

Wow, that's fantastic. I havn't ripped my (very extensive) CD collection because of the effort invovled, but I've considered paying a teenager to do it. Should have recognized the business opportunity.

But why muck about? Want you start with a microphone and end with a file, why not just use a lossless encoding. If you use MP3 you have to know that every tool and and library has not been too aggressive somewhere.

If the end user cannot tell the difference, nothing was too aggressive anywhere. By definition. For something like 99.9% people, an ability to tell original from mp3 ends somewhere between 160 and 192 kbps, depending on listening environment.

The early MP3 codes were pretty bad sonically; thankfully things got better after several generations and better lossy codecs get developed (specifically AAC LC). Since storage technology has improved by many orders of magnitude, the use of like lossy encoding really make no sense unless you have a inordinately large library.

"I say CDs have higher average quality but vinyl has higher peaks for the very best classical music"

Completely aside from the inanity of this comment ['higher peaks' - of what?], have you ever even HEARD a decent turntable in a proper analog hi fi system?

Music is like food, wine or anything else-in this case, one CAN tell the difference between source/media quality - the issue is salience, and how much one cares about it:

ps pay a visit here & form your own conclusion:

Déjà Vu Audio
1401 Chain Bridge Rd, Suite 203
McLean, VA
Vu Hoang

Ah, now there's the rub-what/who defines 'proper' when it comes to the turntable/tonearm/cartridge combination, let alone the back end of the pre-amp/amp? (and I won't even go into the major woo area of interconnects.....)

1. Do you beam with pride or get upset at this article about young, rich philanthropists being courted by the White House?

As a commenter on another blog said, it makes me reconsider my objection to high estate taxes because people who inherit a lot of wealth are starting to remind me of another group of hereditary nobility (i.e., the political clans like Kennedy, Bush, Clinton, Reid, etc.).

All we're missing now are Titles of Nobility.

#1 Has a Republican administration ever done anything similar? If so, how did the NYT react?

This article calls it “America’s most demonized sport,” but they don’t seem to have heard of the game we used to call “Kill the guy with the ball.”

You must mean the game "Smear the Queer".

My 3rd grade teacher let us continue to play as long as we changed the name to "squish the fish."

Yeah, we used these names interchangeably growing up.

We played dodgeball, but called it "Trench". When you were hit you were not out, but you went to a "trench" behind the other team, where you could continue to throw at them. If you hit someone, you were able to go back on your side. This game was nutso with multiple balls and could last much longer.

We also played a version of trench where you had to protect bowling pins that were placed somewhat close to the other team. I think we referred to it as Kill Trench.

I think I'm more upset at the existence of a 19 year old who knows for the rest of his life that he is an heir to the controlling interest in a hundred billion dollar company.

Why are you upset at this 19 year old? Is it just that you are an envious person or did he do some hard to you?

As a society, we tend to celebrate hard work and success, and imagine that the former leads to the latter. Perhaps it is the Puritan work ethic in me, but I like to imagine that my fellow wealthy citizenry got where they are through some hard work of their own. If not, what do they have to strive for? Is it anything at all? What is it that they are contributing to their fellow man?

Hence Warren Buffett/Bill Gates/many others stance that large estates should be broken up at every generation, the deck reshuffled as it were.

@Frank - "What is it that they are contributing to their fellow man?" that is a pretty tough criteria to apply to anyone's endeavors surely. How will we set that test for the rest of us? Who gets to decide? What about people on welfare for instance? What about my evening spent reading a novel last night, was that wrong? Actually at the weekend, me and my family spent the whole time relaxing, to no benefit to anyone else. In fact we actually caused some restaurant staff some work, by eating out. How degraded of us.

You are right that this is "puritan" thinking, but I thought that society had somewhat advanced from 17C moralists believing that they had the right to decide how others should behave. My philosophy is, no harm no pay. In other words what other people get up to in their own lives is no concern of mine, regardless of whether they are "adding" value or not. I not only believe this is morally right, but I have the example of the last few thousands years where people have decided that for whatever reason, they get to decide how others should live, either imposing their religious or cultural values, or imposing their political philosophy. The result was untold misery and early deaths. Really, liberal capitalism has been well proven now to be the best system, and we should celebrate that fact, no engage in some kind of teenage angst that someone is actually having a better time that ourselves and it's all unfair.

#3 “Kill the guy with the ball.” We played this all the time using a football. We called it "smear the queer". I am pretty sure it predated the use of queer for gay (this is 40 years ago).

The use of "queer" to mean "male homosexual" goes back decades at least; the term was used by Raymond Chandler in "The Big Sleep", from 1939, and it is possible that it is in some of Dashiell Hammett's work from the late '20s (I haven't read Hammett lately though). I strongly suspect it goes back much further.

I will corroborate that, at least among my fellow 5th graders, even though the name likely does stem from anti-gay animus, nobody intended, or even was cognizant of, any such animus when playing or referring to “smear the queer.” It was just what it was called. That is not to suggest that there wasn't any anti-gay animus among my peers generally, however. We all laughed mightily at Eddie Murphy's routines about homosexuals.

Yes. I am in Tyler's age cohort, and that is what it was called in Atlanta GA.

Around that same time, the Lenox Square shopping mall actually removed bathroom stall doors to discourage queer sex. Then queers started dying in large numbers. Eventually, Lenox Square was able to replace the stall doors.

We called it "kill the carrier," but my friends from less politically correct parts of the country confirmed the usage of "smear the queer."

in oz we called it kill-the-dill-with-the-pill which had a nice ring to it. alternatively when we didn't have a ball we just played stacks-on, someone would just be nominated to be crushed under a stack of people - those brave few who were second in the pile - vale!

1. If it was just really rich kids who didn't yet know how to get new friends on Facebook, that's one thing. But being called to the White House by the "... special assistant to the president and director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Domestic Policy Council...", just makes me wonder just how big the White House budget is.

And it is all about grooming new democrat doners.

Leaders socializing the next layer in society down is surely ancient - Henry V has "Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country's fashion: we are the makers of manners, Kate." If I wanted to get upset about it, I'd try and find out what the corresponding events were like under George W. Bush, but my working theory on American government is that #43 was not representative of American presidents, so this particular feature does more good than harm.

1. I'm willing to bet against long odds that they didn't hear one word about research into curing aging.

#3: I always saw Dodgeball (we called it soak'em) as "PE Teacher's Revenge".

#1: Neither?

Is a major reason that people with a BA in economics earn more is that they also have a MBA?

CDs are technically superior to vinyl in the sense that one can record a record onto a CD and lose nothing.

BUT the problem with so many commercial CDs- even classical ones- is that some idiot doing the mix-down has used an excessive amount of volume compression, and jacked up the gain, often to the point of clipping.

Recording something too "hot" (loud) has a different effect on vinyl vs CD. On vinyl, the result is more distortion- but not horribly so. On CD, the result is a very unpleasant distortion. As with many things digital, there is a hard threshold (it deteriorates badly all of a sudden); as with many things analog, there is a soft threshold (it deteriorates slowly).

CDs- and the download files made from them- should sound better than vinyl, yet often they sound worse. Not because digital is inherently worse, but because it is badly recorded.

One of the reasons why I use recordings engineered by Alan Parsons when I evaluate gear is that he's the quintessential anti-Loudness War engineer (as well as the RCA Red Seal classical recordings of the late 1950's (Reiner's Scheherazade with the Chicago Symphony.))

1. Found Young Philanthropist Workshop Agenda! A copy of the agenda for the Young Philanthropist White House workshop was found and is now being revealed to us. Below are some of the presentations:

Keynote Speaker 1, Nancy Pelosi: "The banality of earned wealth”: The key to knowing at a very young age how to reach financial independence and allow you to use your wealth to give back to those who serve.

Keynote Speaker, Jonathan Greenblatt: “Doing Good by Doing Well”: How I turned a $4.75 pint bottle of Ethos into a waterfall of clean water for the third world by making people feel better after they already forked over $11.75 for a vente cup of sugar and fat.”

Workgroup: “How can I find love and happiness when it is no longer possible to marry up?” A session co-chaired by Ian Simmons and Liesel Simmons (née Simmons); and no we are not cousins!

Technical Breakout Session: “You said there would be no math”: We prove (in the circular hodograph plane) the following theorem: Given that the 1%’rs are two orders of magnitude wealthier than the 99%, the limit as your wealth approaches two orders of magnitude greater than the 1%’rs - is that you become just like the 99%. Not in everything mind you (think manufactured housing), but in our common disdain for the greedy, hoarding 1%’rs.

Language Breakout Session: “Spanish 101": How can I tell the head groundskeeper that my support of amnesty will do US ALL infinitely more good than a larger tip for your help, who frankly did not seem to work that hard and there is still some leaves on the driveway? Does he not appreciate that I am paying them in cash? (Does he think I just keep cash around? It was me who had to drive down to the ATM on a Saturday afternoon.)

Conservative Breakout Session: Cancelled.

Smear the Queer, Mall Ball, Kill the Carrier. All used interchangeably. ~1980ish. Mid-Atlantic states. Good times.

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