Wednesday assorted links

1. Claims about China.  Take that one with a grain of salt, but while it is speculative it is not absurd.  Coming soon to a theater near you?  An interesting and more balanced post on China.

2. Monitoring your dog (there is no great stagnation).

3. Alex interviewed on Economic Rockstar podcast.

4. A Reddit thread from people who are dying.

5. Russians consume more beer than vodka.

6. Fall foliage markets in everything.



You make me miss Ray Lopez.

You are jealous.

Sorry but I was going over my chicken spreadsheet. I am expanding now. Once I hoped 100 birds a month was sufficient, then 200, then 300, now I shoot for 1000. Why not? I have the barangay captain in my back pocket. A few free chickens to select aldermen and women will ensure no complaints about foul fowls will be acted on (anyway I keep my coops clean, though I found that maggots will nearly always tunnel under the feed chutes after 30 days; they have a funny smell but after you turn over the soil the smell goes away after a few days, though fly maggots are extremely hardy--and rubbery--and hard to kill, and of course I don't use pesticides). Chicken poop is not really bad smelling; it smells like ammonia (from the urine that chickens excrete with the stools). Limestone is sometimes used to get rid of pets, but, believe it or not, crushed limestone is hard to find here, so to get rid of maggots, besides weekly cleaning, I might experiment with certain fertilizers (used to make truck bombs and banned in some countries, but found here). Instead of strong alkaline I will try strong acid soils. Of course in the USA they use "diatomaceous earth" to kill chicken pests (, but such luxuries are not found here in the Philippines.

Aren't the chickens eating the maggots?

Does your girlfriend half your age help tend to the chickens?

"Once I hoped 100 birds a month was sufficient, then 200, then 300, now I shoot for 1000"

Go big or go home, baby! ;)

Beware the avian viruses. Those spread like wildfire. The more the birds the more your vulnerability.

1. This seems "a Chinese thing" at this point, but combine it with don't talk in front of the smart TV and it leads to some interesting places. Science fiction at this point, but not absurd.

In Every Secret Thing Patty Hearst revealed that when the SLA was plotting their next action, they would turn the TV set toward the wall. Apparently, they were ahead of the curve on that one.

Maybe people should stop reading Orwell, it gives them ideas.

It will give some people the wrong kind of ideas, so the rest of us had better read it so we'll be on to them when they try. Aren't they already trying? Is it true that there is a back door in iPhones that the NSA can use to listen in on the conversation of anyone with an iPhone? Search "iphone" "backdoor" "NSA" and you'll find loads of articles about this, for example:

Of course both NSA and Apple deny this. And evvveryone believes them. Riiiight.

1. I've noticed that many folks now tape a piece of paper over the camera eye on their laptops. Not that their paranoid or anything.

5. Interesting fact about beer consumption: it goes up with income until the consumer reaches a certain income threshold ($30,000), and then beer consumption goes down. Maybe other alcoholic beverages are substituted for beer above the income threshold, or maybe having more income means the consumer has less time to consume beer.

Oh my god, a rayward post that isn't a block of text!

Early user-facing cameras (Sun Microsystems) had physical shutters which could be closed. I thought that cost-cutting took them away, but perhaps it was the product design folks, looking for beauty over privacy.

Try this:

I assume it's substitution, because alcohol consumption is a normal good that goes up with income. Although I like the idea that rich people take more shots because they're too busy to drink beer.

I drink more beer than vodka; and more wine, more gin, more cider, more whisky, more vermouth, more brandy, more sherry, more madeira, more port, and more Dandelion and Burdock. This is easily achieved: I have never drunk vodka. Why on earth does anyone drink vodka?

"In America, there is plenty of light beer and you can always find a party. In Russia, Party always finds you."

Some people pay lots of money for a drink, vodka, that has no taste. Go figure. When I was a child my father warned me not to get involved with a gin drinker because a gin drunk is a mean drunk. I've modified that a bit: don't get involved with someone who drinks gin (or vodka) that comes in a plastic bottle. My advice to my nephew is only indirectly related to gin: don't get involved with an interior decorator or someone who rides horses; and if she is an interior decorator who rides horses, run in the other direction as fast as you can. If she drinks gin, call the police.

I take the point to be these women will chew through dollars like a wood chipper. Horses are cool; it's the handbags and shoes that get me.

I once subjected my friends to a blind vodka taste test. Everyone of them save one could pick out Shmirnov over Kamchakta. The only one that couldnt was German. Go figure.

Yeah, I was under the impression that vodka quality grading is much more real than, say, wine quality grading. I believe the Mythbusters did it with lay people and experts and actually got pretty good and consistent rankings.

That said, vodka only gets so expensive, so the upper limit on quality is apparently reachable at a relatively low price.

A big problem for the Vodka companies is how to distinguish themselves when all product tastes the same.

I think fake flavor was one answer.

Perhaps wine grading is more subjective than vodka. I recall a visit to a winery where I was inclined to spit out their "world famous" award winning vintage, but was quite keen on the magical things happening with one of their unrecognized vintages (my hometown is next door to the Niagara region).

Super cheap vodka is extraordinarily vile stuff, and even spending an extra few dollars will get you a long way. Since I only drink vodka with lots of fruity stuff that overpowers everything, the good stuff is just a waste of money.

@dearieme - pro drinkers drink vodka since it does not give away alcohol in the breath, since it's unscented. I've seen Russians in Russia drink a liter of vodka in one sitting, with no ill effects. Put your vodka in the freezer to make it taste more smooth.

BTW, do as I say, not as I do. I drink very little booze. My Filipino friends drink a lot more than I do. Here, "Emperidor Light" brandy is the drink of choice, about 27% alcohol.

Potato vodka is much more smooth than grain vodka, IMO. Don't tell a Russian that though. He will call you a "Pole".

Correctly so!

As for why some prefer vodka over other drinks: minimization of hangovers.

What I also meant to say is that "potato vodka" is about as much vodka as "potato beer" is beer or "potato wine" is wine.

Three strikes in a single post! Bravo.

" pro drinkers drink vodka since it does not give away alcohol in the breath"

Patently false. Whatever flavorings a particular alcohol has will disappear pretty quickly. But the alcohol will be absorbed into the bloodstream and then into the lungs, where the smell of pure alcohol can be smelled on the breath.

Drink a lot of whatever you want, then eat some strong smelling food. People will smell the food on your breath, and the alcohol. Wash out your mouth, and then they'll just smell the alcohol. Doesn't matter if it's gin or vodka or beer.

" I’ve seen Russians in Russia drink a liter of vodka in one sitting, with no ill effects."

Nope. Heavy drinkers develop tolerance, and also learn to disguise the effects. But even then it's very simple to do psychomotor and cognitive tests to reveal their impairment. And of course the eventually wreck their livers so they have far less tolerance than a non-drinker.

" Put your vodka in the freezer to make it taste more smooth."

And false again. It doesn't taste more smooth, it just has less taste. The colder a fluid is, the less volatile, and therefore the less smell. A great deal of taste is in the smell. Plus some taste buds are temperature sensitive, and don't function well at cold temperatures. This is why big brewers encourage people to drink cheap American beer ice cold. Drinking good beer at near freezing temperatures doesn't make it smoother, it just degrades the experience.

Many of the statements in the "balanced" China smack of a selection effect. A good example:

"A friend (herself an entrepreneur) insisted the guy she was dating start his own business before she would consider getting engaged – so much for work-life balance and prioritizing family."

This totally misses the ongoing power of traditional values which insist that one plays it safe, learns from the successful and follows them, and avoids unnecessary -- indeed most -- risks. There are more than enough people shedding tradition to fuel the described innovation, but one shouldn't generalize these outliers, many though they be, to a bellwether of change society-wide. China is big, if you look for it, you will find it. Also, I don't recall a time in China when new company registrations weren't surging.

As for the statement on work-life balance, perhaps it's judging it from a western perspective. It's unreconcilable with the fact that Chinese invest enormously in their children, everything from an education to buying them a home upon marriage. They are far more involved in their children's lives than are "comparable - and that's a stretch" Americans. How? In many cases, grandparents. They shop (thrifty!), cook, clean, they tend to the children during extended work hours. Families are tight and committed as a whole to advancing the family's prospects, everyone doing their role.

1) Holy begeesus I didn't think it would be that far already.

Perhaps in "free" countries, if we are ever to adopt such a system (isn't the notion a massive invasion of privacy no matter the setup?), we can award points for comments which draw attention to areas of shortcoming in the system?

Strongly agree that China should be heavily vilified for this, so as to stoke a political constituency for standing up for privacy and the nightmarish levels to which the Chinese appear to want to take this.

I guess the interesting question might be the degree to which we do have such a system. One could compute a "normal" profile for Facebook users, and divergence from it. It's a small step from that to offering it quietly to interested parties, through intermediaries. Is everyone leaving that $100 bill lying on the ground? From 1a:

The United States is a much different place than China, and the chances that our government will explicitly launch this kind of a program any time in the near future is nil, but there are consistent gravitational pulls toward this kind of behavior on the part of many public and private U.S. bureaucracies, and a very real danger that many of the dynamics we see in the Chinese system will emerge here over time.

I think Stanley is right to speak broadly of "public and private U.S. bureaucracies."

When a Chinese company steps up to buy one of our failing social media or search companies (and one will fail, someday) we will probably block it. But would we block that purchase if made by a French or Belgian company? And if not, will we fight to block it from selling assets to China?

It only matters if we're concerned that dossiers on our citizens' "private" interactions might somehow compromise them where they become state employees in sensitive positions somewhere down the road. Maybe I'm taking too long a view of things.

This Peeple's Republic might also be chilling in an Anaconda in the Chandelier sort of way.

Well, the Chinese block American search and social media companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter). I don't think either "side" really trusts the other with full access to databases full of realms of information about their respective citizens online habits.

French and Belgian companies have significantly stronger protections for privacy than American law, so I imagine people would actually feel more comfortable with French or Belgian ownership than the current owners.

Yes, I very much missed out on the “public and private U.S. bureaucracies” part of things.

Facebook recently patented something very similar to what the Chinese are doing, albeit, minus the negative scoring for inconvenient political posts.

The idea that they think that one day it will be legal to share genuine credit scores of Facebook friends is something that I find very troubling, and very telling about Facebook's motives and trustworthiness with respect to current laws and values.

Sorry, wrong link. Facebook's patent over related technology is discussed here:

Was Merkel vilified for this?

How far until the Germans come up with a point system, too?

5. Drinking more beer than vodka doesn't seem that surprising to me, if it's by volume. If it's by alcohol consumed, then I'm surprised. I didn't see what the measurement was though.

The statement about Russian beer consumption is misleading. It's true that Russians drink more beer than vodka *by volume*, but that's just because serving of beer is much larger in terms of volume than a serving of vodka.

In 2012, Russians drank 74.1 liters / capita of beer versus 13.9 liters/capita of vodka.

Vodka is usually 40 percent alcohol, whereas beer is around 5 percent, so Russians drank 3.7 liters/capita of alcohol in the form of beer, versus 5.56 liters/capita of alcohol in the form of vodka.

Short story is that Russians are still much more likely to be getting drunk on vodka than on beer.

Yeah, I was found similar statistics.

According to this 2011 World Health Organization report, Russian drink nearly twice is much spirits than beer when measured in alcohol:

3.65 litres of pure alcohol per capita in beer;
6.88 litres of pure alcohol per capita in spirits.

A paltry 6.88 litres of pure alcohol per annum per Russkie? That means there's a substantial number of teetotalers wandering around the taiga.

Maybe they meant that Russian spend more on beer than they do on vodka, which would be interesting if true. It's a shame the article wasn't more specific.

#1 - "First, my long-term optimism about China remains intact. If anything, it may be heightened..." speaks volumes. The Stockholm Syndrome at work. You visit China a few times (as I have) and see the big coastal cities, then think everybody lives like this and you get excited. Happened to me initially, and to people like Scott Sumner. But TC has it right: China to collapse. Nuff said.

The other side of that coin is that there are still hundreds of millions of people who can contribute enormously more to the economy than their current status as low-income and sometimes subsistence farmers. So there should be an awful lot more room to grow - for precisely the fact that the other regions are less developed than the coast.

I think this doesn't apply. The about page indicates that the author lived and worked in china previously and has written extensively about it. He also indicates his bayesian prior so we can adjust for that.


Paging Edward Snowden...

The other day he offered to return to the USA and be ready to go to prison.

I imagine authorities are not too keen on that trial, because it will put in the public record an awful lot of things that they probably want to keep secret.

I imagine that, one day, a crowdsource "Thank you Snowden" campaign will make him rich for life.

#1 I expect if they really do this it will force everyone to maintain a bogus profile on the state owned social networks and a real one on some gray social network that the govt (hopefully) doesnt control. I already know a number of people who do this on facebook, one profile they show to their employers, one they share with their friends.

Interesting prognosis. Maybe the Party doesn't even mind. I.e. the most important thing is that everyone presents prim proper public profiles, private perversions perhaps permitted.

Possibly, i hadnt pondered that.

No one cares about 4 apparently

"Left wagging, Karp said, usually indicates negative feelings like anger or aggression, while right wagging typically indicates positive feelings like happiness or excitement."
Well of course! Leftists are full of negative feelings like anger or aggression, while rightists are imbued with positive feelings like happiness or excitement. Woof!

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