Assorted links

1. Critical review of the Alice Goffman book.  Like Alex, I thought the felony made the whole thing more interesting, though of course I do not approve.

2. Fertility is rising for educated women.

3. Has there been a supercapacitor breakthrough?

4. The Future Library.  Will anyone care?

5. The Chinese strategic tradition.  Will anyone care? (yes)

6. John Nash on encryption.

7. New Politico site on ideas and policy.


I don't think there's been a supercapacitor breakthrough...there may have been a penny-stock scam breakthrough though.

The fact that it depends on graphene is troubling. It's very difficult to make in decent-sized quantities.

Graphene is something with a huge ratio of academic papers to actual application, or even ideas close to application. Has been so for almost a decade now.

An idea that is eternally "almost there"....

'almost a decade' seems a bit premature for ' eternally “almost there”'

This seems to be the Graphene break-through:

Yeah, this company looks super legit. No description of the actual technology, no mention of whether they're an enterprise or retail company, nothing but fear mongering about current battery technology, and oh - did you check out their filings?

Here's a fun one:

They file them late, but basically the company started out importing Chinese manufactured baby clothes, changed their names a couple of times and then bought a Canadian tire recycling company. Pretty much all of their revenues come from an Albertan tire recycling program.

They also made a bunch of payments to the Company President, the President's kids, and an un-named director (Bill Richardson, I presume?) for "consulting".


Further fun notes from the filing:

19. Commitments and Contingencies (continued)

On December 9, 2013, the Company entered into a licensing agreement pursuant to which the Company has been granted a royalty-bearing, exclusive license to certain patented inventions. The Company has agreed to pay the licensor $3,000 and issue shares of common stock equal to a fair value of $30,000 on or before January 8, 2014. Refer to Note 16(b). The Company will pay royalties to the licensor calculated based on 4% of net sales for licensed products and processes. The minimum royalty payments are to be paid in advance on a quarterly basis as follows: December 3, 2018: - $500; year 2019 - $2,000; year 2020 - $4,000; year 2021 - $6,000; year 2022 - $8,000; and $10,000 for 2023 and every year thereafter for the life of the agreement. If the first sale of a licensed product occurs before 2019, the first minimum royalty payment will be due on December 31 of the year in which the first sale occurred and the due dates for the subsequent minimum royalty payments will be adjusted accordingly. The Company must provide funding of at least $50,000 by January 6, 2014 for research by the licensor in the area of electrochemical based solar cells with energy storage capacity. In addition, the Company must pay the licensor milestone payments as follows: $5,000 upon completion of a working prototype due on March 31, 2018 and $10,000 upon its first commercial sale due on March 31, 2019. The Company must execute the first commercial sales of products to a retail customer on or before March 31, 2019 or the licensor has the right to terminate the agreement. The term of this license will continue until the latter of the date that no licensed patent remains a pending application or an unforceable patent, or the date on which the licensee’s obligation to pay royalties expires.

On January 16, 2014, the Company entered into an agreement with a company controlled by the President of the Company whereby the Company is to pay $10,000 per month which is to be paid with shares of common stock of the Company until the Company has adequate funding. If the agreement is terminated by the Company without cause or as a result of a change in control, this Company will be entitled to termination pay of $240,000. Refer to Note 16(e).

On March 31, 2014, CleanGen Power, received a demand for payment of Cdn$1,045,627 from the Province of Alberta pursuant to the biorefining commercialization and market development program grant agreement (the “Grant Agreement”). The amount consists of Cdn$969,157 of grant funds disallowed under the Grant Agreement and Cdn$76,471 of interest earned on the grant funds. While CleanGen Power acknowledges that it was in default of the Grant Agreement, the breach was brought about in part by circumstances beyond CleanGen Power’s control. In particular, a sawdust pile fire incident occurred from December 2 to December 21, 2011, which consumed 250,000 tonnes of wood material to be used for the biomass project worth Cdn$1,500,000 to Cdn$2,000,000 and cost approximately Cdn$500,000 to put out. This greatly affected CleanGen Power’s ability to progress with the project under the Grant Agreement. As such, CleanGen Power is in discussions with the Province of Alberta to reduce or settle the amount owed.

#2 is good news. More "smart" people having kids, fewer of the rest having kids.

Turns out the market sorts itself out, and provides the incentives, or disincentives, for having kids. As women get more bargaining power in the workforce they are able to negotiate better deals with employers, and husbands? Who would have guessed!

Maybe Republicans need to realize that not...all kids...that they want to incentivize through their social engineering programs are going to be a benefit to society. Maybe, paying poor mothers to have more kids, just like the Dems to through Welfare, and like the Republicans do through child tax credits...isn't the best idea in the world.

How much of this is just more women getting PhDs?

Possibly. But not all PhDs, or most, go on to academic careers. Maybe the ones which are preferred more by women might be more academic in nature, allowing for more time for family. But either way, it sorts itself out.

Also, the example they give in the article of E&Y isn't likely to hire many PhDs. Of course, this isn't unusual. Most big companies offer such benefits. So it's a factor of...big companies...and more women in those companies at higher levels.

But it's also bargaining power with their husbands. If the woman makes as much or more money than the husband, than the economic incentives for the man to take on more child-raising responsibilities increase.

The article claims that some, but not all of the change is explained by this. The rest is as AIG claims with his oddly broad definition of "Market". Basically different institutions adapt to each other and the best off in society eventually find a way of doing the what comes naturally.

I agree with Cliff, probably this is just more women getting Phd's, and maybe slightly better mom-friendly workplace.
"Maybe Republicans..." This paragraph is just idiotic....Yes, because welfare in US is soooo generous, just like in Sweden you know...

Society gets more of what it subsidizes and less of what it taxes. Politicians are often oblivious to this reality.

#6. particularly the distinction between N, or polynomial length programs, and NP, or exponential length programs

It's been a while, but isn't P the class of polynomial time problems, not N?

Yes, P is the class of problems solvable in polynomial time.

Also, NP isn't the class of problems solvable in exponential time; that class is EXPTIME. NP stands for "nondeterministic polynomial time". The whole issue is whether there are problems in NP which require exponential time; the question would be trivial if NP were defined to be EXPTIME.

Thanks for your clarification also, and I have changed the wording in the post on your advice as well as also thanking you in the update.
I was trying to keep things simple, given the horrendous complexity of the P NP problem. I note the failed effort some years ago by Vinay Deolalikar to prove they are not equal in a 100 page effort This led to a giant internet debate over it with mathematicians, computer scientists, logicians, philosophers, physicists, and at least one economist involved, with Tyler linking to the whole mess at least once, and I think twice. I was the at least one economist, popping in with one remark that was stated to be correct by a famous logician, after which I disappeared as the whole thing got bloody and heated before it was pretty well established that his proof had fatal flaws (and what they were). For a nice summary commentary that is not too hairy, see .

Ooops, sorry. That link does not seem to work. Here is another from New Scientist. If this does not work, well, googling about Deolalikar and P != NP will get you into all of it. In the meantime, try .

Thanks for finding my elementary error. I have fixed it and thanked you in a further update in my post.

#2. is happening exactly as you'd expect: the fertility rebound is going to be the strongest in places where the shocks to fertility hit the hardest and where there's diversity in the heritable contributory factors.

#1, I can see how a felony would make a sociology book more interesting, but isn't it interesting precisely because no other sociologist would do that.
If we start saying that such behavior is interesting, and like Lubet says, more new graduates model themselves after her, don't we have a problem in our hands?
Aren't we giving the wrong incentives by labeling such behavior as interesting?

Yes, serial killers are interesting but I do want them behind bars

That ship sailed when Angela Davis, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were given tenure.

as indicated by the sharp uptick in radical-left bombings here in the US, right?

Not bombings, they just stir up black riots.

you mean former members of the weather underground have been out killing young black men in exceptionally dubious or outright criminal fashion? huh, i must have missed that part.

ibaien May 27, 2015 at 9:04 pm

you mean former members of the weather underground have been out killing young black men in exceptionally dubious or outright criminal fashion? huh, i must have missed that part.

No one has rioted over the killing of young Black men in either dubious or outright criminal fashion. Zimmerman was entirely legally justified in what he did. As in Ferguson. In both cases that was obvious right from the start. Cleveland is arguable.

In the meantime hundreds of young Black men are murdered all the time in an outright criminal fashion. But the radicals do not care about that one little bit. Because Black criminals killing young Black men is not an issue that lends itself to Leftist politics.

"Zimmerman was entirely legally justified in what he did."

Wasn't that, like, one of the two big problems people had with that situation?


mavery May 28, 2015 at 7:53 am

Wasn’t that, like, one of the two big problems people had with that situation?

It depends on what you think the problem was. As no one would deny that an Afro-Latino, subject to an unprovoked attack, and having his head beaten in against a lump of concrete, has a legitimate right to self defense, the question is what were they objecting to.

If you assume that some people don't think White people deserve the right to self defense, then yes, the problem is the law is color blind and gives everyone the right to self-defense. People who think this don't usually put it this way though.

#4 Perhaps the best idea concerning libraries I've read about in a long time! Hopefully the author pool will be diverse and full of surprises. I'd like to see Martin Amis, Christopher Moore and Victor Pelevin added.

#7 - love the site, I didn't see any tedious 2016 campaign coverage. I especially liked the article about taxing giant endowments of universities that receive taxpayer funds. "Republicans don’t care for taxes, but they might like left-leaning universities even less."

1. Has anyone here actually read the Goffman book? If so, is it believable? The entire premise of the book seems hard to believe.

I read the Goffman book. Is it believable? I found it a little hard to believe the police were picking people up in the hospital. I was beyond caring by the time she got to drive shotgun for those thugs.

Generally? No, I think the basic premise of the book is stupid. She is just complaining that the police makes life tough for thugs. Well, yes. That is what they are there for. She admits that young Black men do not have to go into a life of crime. She has examples of young Black men who don't. But they are geeks and she doesn't care for them. The conclusion of her book should have been that the problem with the justice system is that is does a poor job locking people up and insists on letting them out again. Try reading the book and see how far in you can go before you start to wonder how much everyone's lives would be improved if the main characters were executed.

But, you know, only radical chic leads to tenure.

When I went to college, the police would without fail arrest any student under the age of 21 who was sent to the hospital for alcohol related reasons. So while I haven't read Goffman's book, I find it perfectly believable that police would arrest people in the hospital.

Yes, what you experienced was the tyranny part of anarcho-tyranny. Miss Goffman's associates experience the anarchy part.

But but but, we are all equal and have the same lived experiences when exposed to the same circumstances! (Feeling uncomfortable?) William Blake observed that some are born to sweet delight while others are born to endless night. Does that make William Blake racist? Should you be punished for reading him? Or just have an alarm sound in your head when you do?

You can't drive shotgun. Shotgun is the seat next to the driver. Because that's where the guy with the shotgun sits.

low T version - I rode shotgun high t version - I drove shotgun. 2 statements referencing identical external realities.
similarly, low T version - I watched the whole Mets game on TV last night against the Dodgers, high T version - We played the Dodgers last night I watched the whole game on TV. 2 statements referencing identical external realities.
I am told Japanese has similar pronoun/verb variations as a function of different reference to social standing honorifics. Don't know if they have high T low T registers like American English.

Follow the link from this reddit post for a thorough takedown of per book:

Evidently the book is rife with inconsistencies. It looks to me like she made the whole thing up.

"Like Alex, I thought the felony made the whole thing more interesting, though of course I do not approve."

It says something about academics that being a potential accomplice to murder bothers them less than having an unpopular view such as being opposed to same sex marriage. What is says is that they are frivolous people who ought not to be entrusted with America's youth.

What is says is that they are frivolous people who ought not to be entrusted with America’s youth.

Not so much being frivolous. It's more a matter of the progressives adopting a hip pseudo-morality to fill the void left by their rejection of "traditional" or "bourgeois" morality.

Especially since it's a blatant violation of the NAP....

I, too, have written a novel for the Future Library...

Supercapacitor breakthrough? Well, maybe, but the article doesn't provide much info.

Those of us who remember physics 101 know that the energy stored in a capacitor is 0.5C*V^2, so although 10,000 Farads is certainly an impressive amount of capacitance, we don't know how much energy is in it unless we know the voltage it can withstand. Most supercapacitors are limited to low voltages.

They certainly have their uses: self-discharge rates are low, they can be deep-discharged without reducing their useful life, and by placing one in parallel with a battery one may be able to significantly increase the momentary current available to the load.

But like all technologies, after one looks beyond the promoter's "gee-whiz" bunkum, there is no "breakthrough" that promises a new day, just another technology that improves over time but must be used within its limitations.

Agreed that the article is not much. Furthermore, the management includes a CEO who ran a software company and Bill Richardson, the former governor of NM.

Just seems weird that these two yokels would supervise a legit breakthrough.

"...our opinion is that no one should be putting several thousand pounds of these Lithium cells in close proximity to the house or on their walls " stated Gary Monaghan.

Let's hope Gary never comes to this country where we are so crazy we use metal bands to strap LPG tanks to the sides of our homes and actually park vehicles containing tanks of gasoline inside large rooms in our houses. Yes, that's right, Australia actually is just like Mad Max: Fury Road.

I definitely hope that Gary does succeed in greatly lowering the cost of supercapacitors, but I certainly don't expect it. As far as breakthough announcements are concerned it's a case of 147,000 times bitten, 147,001 times shy.

Also, who on earth needs several thousand pounds of lithium-ion batteries against their home? Even for off-grid use, given the declining cost of solar PV, two 100 kilogram Powerwalls will be enough for the typical household here to get by on, or three for party people or those who regularly forget to cool the house down before sunset. (My parents don't have air conditioning or an electric stove, so they could get by on one.) So 300 kilograms, that's maybe 700 pounds in weird Americano units?

At that point why not go lead acid? Or an auto starting genset?Sounds a lot less trouble / cost than some overhyped "Powerwall".

You don't go lead-acid because the Powerwall has a 10 year warranty while lead-acids have a one year warranty or two if you shell out more for a brand with a good reputation. And you want to use a generator as little as possible because they are very expensive to run, as well as noisy and smelly. Fortunately, PV prices have come down so much that generators are now an optional extra for off-grid living here in Australia. People can simply increase the number of panels on their roof until they have enough to meet their consumption even on overcast days. In warm climates solar panels can produce one third the output they do on clear days when it is completely overcast. Just the other day when it was overcast and raining, I checked the panels here in subtropical Queensland and they were producing over half the output they would if it were sunny. This is because the rain was cooling the panels and boosting their efficiency.

While at current prices lead-acid batteries are still superior for some installations, the Powerwall is a big deal for people who have to live off-grid. And it's hard to convince Australians it is overhyped because the Powerwall can potentially pay for itself in 4 out of our 6 states when used for on-grid home energy storage, potentially giving some people a better return than the stock market average, so you can see why many of us are pretty impressed.

"10 year warranty" is doing a lot of work in that first sentence. What are the details of the warranty? That the powerwall still turns on, or that it can deliver 70% of the original charge at 90% in-out efficiency?

Dan, the 7 kilowatt-hour Powerwall is guaranteed to output 7 kilowatt-hours of stored electricity each day for ten years. That's at 92% DC to DC efficiency. Power output is 2 kilowatts nominal, 3.3 kilowatts peak. That's the deal, and that is its main selling feature. You don't think Australians would be impressed if the system's mortal coils were half shuffled off by the end of the warranty period, do you?


Do you have a source for that "guaranteed to output 7 kilowatt-hours of stored electricity each day for ten years." bit?

I couldn't find it on the Powerwall website. I see the same vague warranty wording @Dan Weber refers to.

Perhaps I missed it in my reading.

Raul, can you provide a link to the Powerwall website where it says the warranty is, "That the powerwall still turns on, or that it can deliver 70% of the original charge at 90% in-out efficiency." This is pretty big because since they have been taking reservations they may be able to be done for fraud under Australian law. I'd be very interested to read what it says, as my information contains nothing like that.

There are two kinds of countries:

(1) Those that use the metric system.

(2) Those that put men on the moon.

I was recently told there is a special place in Hell for unit pedants. I responded that it was probably in the Hell space program so they wouldn't lose their mars probes.

I think you're taking too literally the phrase "the past is another country"

And haven't landed on the moon since.

We do this not because it is easy...

I want to hear about FIFA and the coming meritocracy.

#3: supercapacitors do exist. Alstom already sells wire free trams, just google Alstom Citadis Ecopack. In Spain, CAF made wireless trams for Sevilla and Zaragoza. The tram has some supercapacitors that recharge on every stop and discharge between them. Fast charge means also fast discharge, thus there's no free lunch.

Marketwatch article forgets capacitors discharge really fast. The "powering" of a semi-truck is just for the high cold-crank amperage needed to start a diesel engine.

Anyway, supercapacitors already have a job even if they are not made from graphene. But, they don't compete with batteries, they are complements.

Maybe you're right, but your explanations are lacking. The fact that a capacitors discharges as fast as it charges isn't a problem in itself. I think you nmay have meant that they leak current and thus don't stay charge very long.

That they can be discharged fast is a good thing. It means that you can get a lot of current at once, hence starting motors, etc. A traditional battery has a certain capacity, but you can't get more than a certain amount of current at once. So even if you have a certain theoretical capacity and need a lot of it to start an electric motor (for example), it may not work.

In other words, that it can be discharged fast doesn't mean that you have to discharge it fast. You can also discharge it slowly. Maybe that's not possible with a supercapacitor, I'm not sure, but you haven't explained that.

Here is another good review of Hoffman's book:

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