Sunday assorted links


#3 I am glad the US is pledging not to interfere with space-mine-homesteading. But these are early days, presumably no realistic operations will begin for at least 50 years or a lot more. Right now, Congress is happy to tilt in this direction because some rich geeks want it to, and no one else cares enough to oppose them. What happens when these operations become realistic, and entrenched interests actually feel threatened?

clever space pioneers will just steal their air and water from whatever public-private entity has succeeded in regulatory capture. there will also be a computer that loves jokes.

I'm actually shocked by the law. Obama seems against market mechanisms and is very much entranced by the regulatory state.

I'm wondering what the calculus is with this law. Is it simply that he thinks it will not matter for quite some time and that he can get some concessions from the other side for a bargaining chip he considers worthless?

How is your comment consistent with the US Constitution that incorporates the 1967 space treaty into the Supreme Law of the Land?

Give the 1967 treaty was written, agreed to by multiple nations considering going to the Moon, Mars, etc, and ratified by the US Senate that was funding recurring scientific expeditions to the Moon including Moon bases, and with bring back parts of the Moon, it is clear that grabbing up rocks in space was intended by the 1967 treaty.

What the treaty excludes is the USSR landing a flag on the Moon and claiming it is now Soviet territory and that a US moon landing would be an act of war. In 1967, many still thought the US was likely to lose the race.

The law simply states that any rocks taken by a private, non-government, funded mission would be the property of the private party. What Congress can not do is give a private party ownership of the Moon or Mars or any bunch of flying rocks in space, until they are stowed away in a space ship as cargo. Note that any rocks US funded missions grab are currently forever public property of the US government, even the Moon rocks given to other nations as goodwill. Hundreds of samples of Moon rock were given as tokens to other nations ruled by dictators who stole them and they then reached the auction mzrket. The Apollo 17 moon rock given to Honduras was stolen by a general in the military dictatorship and sold a couple of times until it arrived in the US where it was confiscated by the Federal government, refurbished, and returned to the Honduran people around 2005.

But this is all US Law that Obama executes within the limits of the Constitution, including the 1967 space treaty. Unlike the then dictator of Honduras, Obama can't sell anything from space because Congress makes the law.

Whether by accident or by design, the most pro-space policy of the past 30 years was opening the launch business to market forces, of which the vast majority (but not all) was done by Obama's staffers.

On the one hand, it's a market oriented mechanism.

On the other hand, it's a low cost giveaway to eccentric rich folks in Silicon Valley.

So in a way, it's the exception that proves the rule.

On Pearlstein's article, something he missed is that not only have the number of administrators per student risen, and I shall not dispute that the biggest increases may have been in some of these support staff people, their salaries have risen against the rate of inflation. This has not been going on with faculty salaries, which have barely risen above the rate of inflation, and while faculty may have lower teaching loads, the faculty/student ratios nationwide have not changed since 1967. For higher level admins I think this is a trickle-down from the explosion of higher management salaries in business, led by those of CEOs. So, presidents must have salaries that chase those of CEOs even as they accumulate more highly paid underlings to do their work, and they create more colleges where there must be more associate deans, and so forth.

At JMU where I teach, we now have an Assistant to a Deputy Vice Provost, there being both more than one Deputy Vice Provost and more than one Vice Provost. Neither of those lower two layers were around when I started, and we had no Associate Deans, with typical colleges on my campus now having three or four, all far more highly paid. After all, they are the really important people. Maybe what Pearlstein reports is correct that the explosion of secondary support people is greater, but there has definitely been a major explosion of these largely unproductive people, even if Pearlstein seems to mock that observation. It is real.

I liked #6, and by that I mean it is even more horrible than my already low expectations.

As I was saying earlier this morning, there are many value networks, but few centered on educational efficiency on a national scale.

I found that strange, too.

"these largely unproductive people": good God, they're worse than unproductive. They actively obstruct the academics in the execution of their duties.

in re: #5, sounds like a classic case of "libertarian paradise". how's their regulatory climate?

Even socialism didn't prevent murders from happening. I fail to see why the murder of two tourists in 2014 in a location that attracts huge numbers of tourists should be an outrage.

Oh, and gun violence might include the Islamic insurgency they had in the southern provinces.

Because Chicago's is so effective.

Thailand is a monarchy controlled by a military junta. Pre-coup, it was controlled by a Prime Minister who succeeded politically by massive wealth redistribution from the wealthy urbanites to the poorer-but-more-numerous rural areas. It is fucked up in a variety of ways, none of which you can lay at the feet of libertarians. Sorry.

the academic cost-cutting article is exactly right. But, of course. universities across the country are busy adding associate deans for diversity, associate deans for diverse students mental health, associate deans for Title IX compliance, etc. The category that is mostly justified is IT. Everybody now expects universities to maintain complex networks. That does not come cheap.

Professors should do more teaching as well. I'd say the exception is truly joint undergrad research. I read about 10 theses a year and do a lot of individual work with those students (for no official credit.) With a bigger class load, I would not be able to do that. Teaching students to solve problems in a field is valuable and its worth having faculty doing that type of research.

However, my professor instincts do twitch on teaching load and summer courses with no additional money. That's just continuing the corporate mission to destroy every good job in the country. But I'd make a bargain. Eliminate all the international work visas for professors, including existing ones and green cards, and I'll take my chances in a market. I think prospects for academic employment would be quite good without Tyler's friends importing cheap labor.

And students are demanding diversity officers, mental health counselors, etc.

2 points on demand.
(1) if demand means demand at zero price, then yes. If the students demanding these administrative positions paid the cost for them, it would be a different story.

(2) Different groups of students demand different types of administrative offices. Some like athletics administrators, some diversity, some career counseling. They universal thing is that none of them wish to pay full cost for it. If career office counseling was done on even a deferred payment basis, would anybody use it? The same goes for the other offices.

"2 points on demand.
(1) if demand means demand at zero price, then yes. If the students demanding these administrative positions paid the cost for them, it would be a different story."

Or even saw what the cost was. It's all hidden in one giant tuition bill. Students generally realize the cost of text books, meals and room, because those are actually billed separately.

"That’s just continuing the corporate mission to destroy every good job in the country."

The rest of America has to work during the summer, but "my good job" should be protected from that because I'm special.

What complex network? It's a couple of VLANs. We aren't exactly talking about HFT networking demands or public peering point.

You have to have systems that track students and are pretty confidential, that also link to classes, registration, building times, all of that stuff. My brief impression is that handling students is also difficult due to their tendency to do carzy stuff like download tons of movies. You also have professors who need specialized servers and programs that they did not used to need. I think its more complex than what you are talking, though i am by no means an expert and I am sure there is featherbedding in IT as elsewhere.

14 of the top 100 supercomputers are at universities.

And? The central IT department isn't in charge of the interconnects, or anything to do with them really.

That can't be the whole story on asteroid exploitation. The US, and other states like Estonia, Moldova and Ghana will want to regulate this business just as they do lemonade stands and and brothels. We can compare this to a similar situation with Antarctica:

The whole story would have to include somewhere the implicit threat of dropping bits of the asteroid on the White House.

Moldova and Ghana aren't civilized enough to have space programs.

#3: HR 2262 doesn't allow anyone to own an asteroid, and it doesn't reverse any existing space law. HR 2262 allows US citizens and corporations to claim ownership of asteroid resources that they actually recover, not entire asteroids in situ. Black-letter international law dating to 1967 says that nobody can claim ownership of a celestial body. And a precedent set by Russia in 1993 established that anyone can own and sell for a profit commercially valuable materials recovered from a celestial body.

Rather like fishing in international waters - you can own the boat, you can't own the ocean, you do own the fish you catch. This has been the law in space for decades, HR 2262 collects it in one place and clarifies it. If some future resolution allows for claiming celestial bodies in place, that will be a revolutionary change.

That treaty prevents _governments_ from claiming ownership. There's nothing in there about Elon Musk being disallowed from doing so.

Except that the treaty only recognises government activity in space, in the same way that activity on the high seas is considered to be by the country where the vessel is registered. If Elon Musk claimed ownership, then it would be considered a claim by whichever country he's registered in. Of course, if he's part of a self-sufficient space economy by then, there's not much they could do to stop him (and if it's nearly self-sufficient, then there'll be a need for smugglers to run the gauntlet of Earth orbit to get precious items such as microprocessors into orbit...). They could only seize the assets on Terra, after all, especially since their sovereignty doesn't extend into space and they're prohibited from militarising it (much like in Antarctica - sovereignty claims aren't recognised, but if someone did decide to set up a country there, all signatory nations are barred from using military action to stop them).

On the other hand, precedence from maritime law, and space law, means that any area that is incorporated into a base (say, a domed crater) can be claimed. Also, precedence from Antarctica (Greenpeace, World Park station) suggests that non-state entities should be able to set their own independent bases.

We need enough property rights.

If someone else can come into my mine after I dig it and take out ore, that sucks and I just won't build the mine.

For asteroids, there might be some particular body that is situated at the right orbit with the right chemical properties, that once a group does the work to locate and analyze it, some other body will take that announcement and set up a mining craft first. This is insufficient property rights.

On the other hand, if there are lot of rocks out there, such that every group can find one without a lot of upfront investment, we're okay so far.

For now, it's unlikely one group would really try to steal another group's space rocks that are already in their ship. But someone might start mining the same rock I'm mining in a way that damages my attempts to mine it.

What does is the growth in the number and pay of non-teaching professionals in areas such as academic and psychological counseling, security, information technology, fundraising, accreditation and government compliance.

I agree in theory but, as I wrote in "When there are too many administrators, which ones do *you* fire?", I've seen few substantive proposals that will actually reduce administrative headcount. Perhaps those proposals are out there and I'm just not aware of them.

Managers have to make judgement calls every day.

Here's a tip from Six Sigma:

Ask the question "Would my customers pay for this?" about every process?

Example: diversity office.

Would college students be willing to pay for this, if the amount was broken out as a separate bill?

I doubt it.

It gets tricky with compliance, because customers may not want it, but government does.

If you want an example from real life, look at re-work. Let's say we're back in the 70's when cars coming off the line had to be taken out and have a lot of re-work done to make them saleable. Would customers be willing to pay for this re-work?

No! They in fact would wonder why you can't make it right the first time.

Thus re-work is a process that should be eliminated as much as possible.

#7 - Interesting.

Truth: Credit derivative swaps (CDS) were insurance contracts with massive leverage, i.e., woefully insufficient reserves, compared with risks which were massively underestimated.

Thought on " it’s not obvious that the financial sector did a lot to insure households against most of the additional risk." Truth, however, a New Deal-era program, the FDIC, fairly-well protected insured depositors from financial losses in the recent debacle. And, the Fed backstopped the mutual fund industry forestalling massive financial pain. The FDIC is not funded by taxes but with deposit insurance assessments paid by member institutions; as is the Fed funded by national banks and state-chartered member institutions.

And how much should the financial sector be shrunk, and, more importantly, how?

Are you sure your comments are being deleted? And why would they be?

Hopefully Jan's are.... so annoying...

Yes, my comments are absolutely being deleted... so annoying!

I'm assuming it's because of a recent spat with Jan in the Friday assorted links in which I used some foul language. The spat has been entirely deleted. Tyler's far more vigilant at deleting my comments here than he's ever been with spammers or with my impersonators.

Wish I could have been there.

Well stop using foul language. And maybe have the good grace not to publicly whine when you come onto somebody else's site, act rudely and then get ejected.

1. A new estimate of “Volkswagen deaths” for the United States.

And how serious are these estimates? I doubt that lower levels of particulates obey the linear rule. But the more important thing is that the alternative is not lower polluting engines. It is no engines. California is said to demand cleaner air coming out of a car than going in. The aim is clearly to drive the internal combustion engine out of existence. But those engines save a lot of lives. Even diesel ones. They power the trucks, buses and ambulances that save lives. Persecuting VW is likely to end up killing more people than leaving them alone.

5. The best of Thailand, the worst of Thailand.

I didn't see the best of bit myself. So Thailand has high gun crime? Virtually all the Third World does. Guns have become very cheap and in many places they are ubiquitous. Where the police won't solve your problems, you have to solve them on your own. I am surprised that Thailand does not have higher rates given the popularity of things like meth amphetamine.

There is a great shift, moving as many urban buses and trucks to natural. It is even easier to move cars to cleaner fuels: hybrids, electrics, high efficiency gasoline, or natural gas.

Thus it is kind of odd to say that VW is saving lives.

1) Countries don't have IQs. 2) The population average IQ of a country has nothing to do with whether it is a first, third, or fourth world country (now usually called developed, developing, and underdeveloped). 3) As China is a developing nation, being richer than China doesn't imply that a country is a developed nation. 4) The IMF puts Thailand's GDP per capita at PPP between Libya and Iraq -- i.e. in the third world.

Actually national average iq and development status are pretty well correlated. But that's an un pc hatefact

The World Bank groups countries into Low Income, Lower-middle-income and Upper-middle-income, which strikes me as useful and precise. Thailand is in the upper-middle-income country where it has a GDP per capita comparable to Libya and Iraq but also Malaysia and several Latin American countries.

Your racist psychoses aside:

Even if the population average IQ of a country correlates with development status it still doesn't mean a given population average IQ is sufficient to place a country in the development schema. That's confusing a proxy for the thing itself, which is especially nonsensical when we can measure the thing itself.

Go Aggies! As a former student of Greg Clark and classmate of Dani Diaz Vidal, do read the paper.

Yup; this was the post that led me to become a regular here:

Those were the days. It brought my blog the most views it's ever had. Now I'm banned at Adam Lee's blog, banned at the American Enterprise Institute blog, partly banned at Noah Smith's blog, de facto banned at Pharyngula (not that I'd want to comment there), and four-fifths banned at Marginal Revolution. I didn't even last a year here.

Apparently, people don't like controversial views or foul language.

maybe more people would take you seriously if you stood on a soapbox in the town square.

'enough mockery of my situation' says the troll melting down and posting under multiple anon handles on a thread. maybe a break from the stresses of posting would be restorative.

I can't imagine why blog proprietors wouldn't like your content-less insults of other blog commentators. It's a huge puzzle.

I said in one of my deleted comments here I wouldn't use foul language here again. So far, I haven't. I also accepted my responsibility for my inappropriate behavior in my spat with Jan.

And Tyler (or one of his interns) is deleting way more than my content-less insults. He's deleting all my comments, whether they make a legitimate point or not. It's a concerted campaign to drive me out of MR.

One of the lessons people *generally* learn on the way to adulthood is that saying sorry doesn't always make it all better.

If you had any decency at all, you'd take the hint.

What is the comment policy on your blog? Given your outrage, I'm assuming it must be quite laissez faire?

Seems pretty ban happy to me. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

This blog isn't a gander; it has a comment policy of not moderating new commenters and has no explicit comment policy.

Plus, Tyler didn't warn me of anything.

"Apparently, people don’t like controversial views or foul language."

People love controversial views. What people get bored with is incredibly banal and inane views masquerading as controversial.

My views on race and the Syrian war are hardly banal or inane. And no, people generally don't like controversial views, precisely because of their controversial nature.

Your views are the definition of banal and inane. The history of the Unitied States is replete with fuzzy racialism and calls to bomb somebody. Nothing new or original. The only thing remotely notable is that you've convinced yourself that these viewpoints are somehow novel.

So, j r, what would be a novel and controversial viewpoint, in your opinion?

I don't know much from controversy, but the very definition of the term means that anything controversial enough to be hated or dismissed by one side of an issue will be lauded by other other. Plus at the meta-level both sides love controversy, because it makes them momentarily relevant. So I tend to view these sorts of complaints as crocodile tears.

As for novel, I find almost all of Tyler's views novel, when he chooses to offer them. And that is largely because he does not seem to be either particularly concerned with being politically correct or obsessed with being anti-PC either. He mostly just seems to be following the evidence and the logic. That's about the most novel thing that you can do in public discourse right now.

I very rarely view Tyler's views as novel. In archaeology, my fave thinkr is Finkelstein. In econ, Sumner. On race und kultur, Sailer. On meta-level issues, Scott Alexander. On philosophy, Yudkowsky. On international IQ and development Malloy+Karlin.

Tyler's views are ripped straight off the pages of the Economist. I see no evidence he primarily goes where the evidence leads, rather than where the Economist leads.

"On race und kultur, Sailer."

If you find white nationalist views on "race and kultur" novel, then I submit that you have a very backwards conception of what it means to be novel. That isht has been around since day one.

When you're fine and the rest of the world is the problem, it's time to take a break and think......mmm, sorry I thought I was at AA meeting.

#1: 59 premature deaths.

That seems like a very small number. Of course multiplying each premature death by 8 million dollars makes it seem quite a bit more of a tragedy. Although it does make one wonder: a life may be worth 8 million dollars, but is a premature death (how premature?) worth that same 8 million. I can't see how it could be.

I think the number of 10 to 100 ("60") is unrealistic and much too high. It assumes no progress from 2009 in pulmonary disease treatment or lung cancer for many years on out. If you get lung cancer from this in 2035, you will be just fine.

I saw the same error in assuming deaths from radiation after the nuclear power accident in Fukushima. The truth is that radiation science has gone well beyond the EPA (forced standards at the NRC) so that the science of the past twenty years has shown there will be no deaths from radiation.

A Berkeley physicist, Richard Muller, who did a 180 degree change in 2013 from what he lectured to students in 2006 (on youtube: "Physics for Future Presidents"), didn't understand this sub-field then but hand waved, wrote in the WSJ that he thought there would be 50 deaths from Fukushima based on his made-up "anything of greater radiation than Denver could cause cancer" claim. The vast majority of radiation health experts would dispute that as well.

But the Muller, the EPA, etc and all assume no advances in cancer treatment, etc. for several decades.

There will be no "Volkswagon deaths" just as there will be no premature deaths from Fukushima.

What do you make of the Japanese announcement of the first Fukushima death?

That it didn't happen? Thousands of people have worked at Fukushima. The odds are one of them will get leukemia. One of them did. It does not mean Fukushima caused it.

We would need to see a raised death rate. There is unlikely to be a single death from Fukushima. A lot more from the evacuation.

Thank you confirming my bias that external facts don't matter in comment threads.

I was interested to read in Misbehaving of Thaler's early work on the statistical value of a human life. It is sort of like: cost/benefit arguments imply a number anyway, so what is it?

Once you have that number, it helps you with opportunity cost arguments as well. Some reductions in premature death are cheap, low hanging fruit. Others cost a great deal.

Banning cigarettes would have been cheap, but freedom, I guess.

Freedom, I guess??

Isn't that the central issue? That people should be able to engage in risky behavior if it suits their preferences? If we don't allow people that freedom then when does it stop? Almost every activity has a risk: driving, taking a plane, using electricity, etc. Who makes the choice of which activities we are allowed to engage? Some faceless bureaucrat? People the will of the majority? Or maybe we simply let the individuals decide?

We recognize a difference between risk and self destruction. We accept that people make irrational decisions and are susceptible. That's why heroin is illegal.

I guess it is just historical legacy that we consider tobacco a mild risk.

Or more darkly we accept that tobacco company lobbying is part of the American way, death for profit. Like lead in gasoline (known from the beginning to be a major health risk).

The difference between risk and self destruction of 100% sophistry. It is the way that those who desperately wish power over others obtain that power.

Some people have a preference for nicotine, they should be allowed to choose.

Should people be allowed the right to die? This is the ultimate form of 'self destruction'. I say of course they should be allowed the choice.

He doesn't even have the basic decency to leave when it is made clear he isn't wanted. What a jerk.

In fairness, if I were banned I would expect some communication to that effect. If your comments just suddenly start getting deleted you don't really know what that means. Maybe it means that if you pick a new name and behave you'll be allowed to continue- particularly if you try that and it works at first.

If the new one starts getting it's comments deleted to? People with normal functioning shame responses get the picture sooner rather than later.

This comment section is carefully managed - comments that simply refer to published information (salaries of tenured GMU professors, how to donate tax free to the Mercatus Center, the name of a former GMU PR VP, the biography of the creator of a chair at the Mercatus Center, etc) will vanish.

As do comments that too savagely mock the inanity of some of the posts made here - Benny Lava is more familiar with that, as Prof. Tabarrok has a seemingly much thinner skin than Prof. Cowen.

And of course, this comment section also has an inbuilt filter - for years, it was not possible to publish any link to the New Yorker here.

This web site is a PR exercise, something that far too many people seem unaware of. I'd provide a bit more information, but after all this time, everyone has gotten the message - certain facts just aren't welcome here. Because when building a better world, the story of two professors using a $4 app and youtube sounds so much better than the reality of a well funded Mercatus Center project.

'In fairness, if I were banned I would expect some communication to that effect.'

Spoken like a loyal reader with a perfectly adjusted set of blinders.

#6 was very good, on 'higher education'. Friday is the new Saturday. I wonder how much TC teachers? Publishes? LOL - RL

At Mason, utilization of classroom space during prime daytime hours on Thursdays is 68 percent; on Fridays, it is 38 percent. That’s a bit above the national average, according to estimates from Sightlines, a facilities consulting firm.

I’m not talking about research supported by grants. I’m referring to the research by tenure-track faculty members that is made possible because they teach only two courses per semester, rather than the three or more that was once the norm.

The vast majority of the so-called research turned out in the modern university is essentially worthless,” wrote Page Smith, a longtime professor of history at the University of California and an award-winning historian. “It does not result in any measurable benefit to anything or anybody. . . . It is busywork on a vast, almost incomprehensible scale.”

The number of journal articles published has climbed from 13,000 50 years ago to 72,000 today, even as overall readership has declined. In his new book “Higher Education in America,” former Harvard president Derek Bok notes that 98 percent of articles published in the arts and humanities are never cited by another researcher. In social sciences, it is 75 percent. Even in the hard sciences, where 25 percent of articles are never cited, the average number of citations is between one and two.


"A new book by a former Harvard president seems like it should be a credible source of information on this topic [on never cited research], but the shocking statistic turns out to be a rehash of a 1991 study of publications from 1984 that suffers from extreme methodological flaws — and that refuses to go away, in part due to revivals like Bok's."

I have been thinking about the topic in #7 in relation to the housing issue and low interest rates:

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