Thursday assorted links

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Why is it important or impressive that a film be comprehensible at twelve times the normal speed?

yes, the website offers "Huge props to director George Miller and editor Margaret Sixel", which presumably is a positive thing, but why? And, it begs the question, at what speed is it acceptable for a film to be comprehensible? Should we be aiming for 60x? 200x?

(*not comprehensible)

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In addition, they left unanswered, or even unasked, the question "comprehensible to whom?" I haven't seen the film and I found the 12x version to be incomprehensible. If I'd seen it already I probably could've followed it, but I suspect the same is true for just about any other movie.

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It doesn't beg the question.

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I watched 'War & Peace' last night @ 12X

Its about Russia.

You owe Woody Allen a royalty check for that joke

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I was surprised to learn that the shipping index is price based, and thus (like oil?) can suffer rapid decline when too much capacity is brought on line. A tonnage report would be interesting.

From that: "The largest carriers, fueled by cheap money central banks have made available, are purposefully adding enormous capacity to drive up their market share and destroy the price so that smaller carriers with less money to blow would be forced to exit the market, allowing the top carriers to build a global shipping oligopoly.'

" rates to Rotterdam had dropped to $243 per TEU, which wouldn’t even cover the cost of fuel of about $300 per TEU." (But other routes pay better.)

Does the author really expect carriers not to withdraw some of their capacity if they can't recover even the marginal operating costs? In order to enforce an oligopoly they'd need much of that excess capacity removed permanently (not just mothballed).

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2. I would have thought that the first requirement fir a priest is Scientific ignorance

but did you really think, or did your knee just jerk

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They are allowed to catch up with science once many decades (or centuries?) have passed.

Mind you, with parts of "science" passing into the control of priesthoods, maybe those sympathetic
to science should belt up on this point.

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Spoken by someone who makes 2 mistakes in a 14 word sentence. Ignorance indeed.

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Perhaps we can all agree to put aside the mood affiliation and read the article?

It is actually very interesting. Especially on post-Christian Europe. I hope the Muslim's book gets translated into English. It looks fascinating.

The unspoken stuff that really interested me in this fine piece pertains to the abhorrent Salafists and Wahhabists. This chap is clearly a humanist Muslim. And it gives evidence of just how terrible the "take over" of Islam by Wahhabism really is.

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#2 is really wonderful -- genes are a whole new written record for history and there is much we can learn. And there are limits too. This artricle shows that caste "kicked in" at a certain point in history (the Gupta empire) only in the sense that in-marriage started being enforced very strongly then.

It would be interesting to know how important the castes were as social barriers before that time -- even if out-marriage was a bit more common. After all this study only identifies four mainland "haplotypes" -- and we must presume (becuase Ars explain) that they correspond to the four varnas. But those varnas are attested all the way back to the Vedas.

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No. That would be the first requirement for people who get trapped in Antarctic sea ice that their computer models told them did not exist. It's also found in people who think Mind has nothing to do with Brain and hominids didn't select for variants in behavior and intelligence.

In reply to jim jones.

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My criteria for a modern religion would be: while they think they have the right or even best course, they recognize the fallibility of man.

This should imply that others, athiests even, are also in pursuit of truth. Positive discussion may ensue.

I think that individuals in many religions take that broad approach, but more primitive forms persist. When ranchers say God gives them rights in the Western US, they mean Joseph Smith's God, trumping prior claims of lesser aboriginal religions. (A position rejected by mainstream Mormon leaders.)

anon January 28, 2016 at 1:23 pm

My criteria for a modern religion would be: while they think they have the right or even best course, they recognize the fallibility of man. This should imply that others, athiests even, are also in pursuit of truth. Positive discussion may ensue.

Well yes but where does this get us? First of all, the concept of the fallibility of man is very much a Christian concept. It is not found in other traditions. It is unlikely to survive Christianity.

But suppose we recognize that others are in the pursuit of truth. And that pursuit takes them to murdering Jews and Kulaks. Should we recognize that their path to the truth is equally valid? Worthy of respect? Should not be resisted? Or do we assert that God has laid down undeniable, uncompromising, eternal truths to which governments and men must bow down? There is a reason that the slogan outside the gate to Buchenwald was "Jedem das Seine".

We like our religion watered down and discussed in terms of "rights" - taking the God out of Natural Law. But let's at least be honest. These are social constructs. God is dead in Western society. Therefore the Holocaust is not a moral issue. The crime was to not get away with it. Had the Nazis won, Western academics would be hailing Hitler as the greatest statesman of the 20th century. Instead they hailed Lenin and Stalin. Until the Wall came down anyway.

I don't think it is recognition of their own fallibility that leads to one group murdering another.

I agree. It is knowledge of one's fallibility, that is inherently bound up with the Christian view of God, that prevents most acts of genocide. Once you ditch the belief in God people become obsessed with the idea that they are scientifically correct. They are infallible because Science!

Hence the Gulag and the Gas Chamber.

There is a reason the sign outside Buchenwald said Each To Their Own.

Buddhists are pretty good on humility as well. As are some scientists.

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"His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that it is wonderful that so many different religions exist in the world. Just as one food will not appeal to everybody, one religion or one set of beliefs will not satisfy everyone's needs. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial that a variety of different religions is available from which to choose. He welcomes and rejoices at this."

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#3 is an excellent idea for training videos, online courses and tutorials. I did the Stanford machine learning class a couple of years ago at the maximum speed because the instructor just talks so ... freaking ... slowly ... and goes off on tangents.

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Re #5: why does it cost 3x as much to ship from Shanghai to the US west coast compared to shipping to Rotterdam?

Could be that more is being carried back from Rotterdam.

Or, could be that Rotterdam is fully automated while West Coast Ports have unionized workers. (Charge more for the risk of a 3 month strike, etc..)

Or more likely, more demand from the USA with less berths available, so price is higher, while European growth has stalled and weak euro hurts imports?

Where are people getting the idea that Rotterdam is fully automated?

I got the idea from watching The Wire.

It was on TV! It must be true!

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#3 - I really enjoy being able to watch TV shows and movies at higher speeds (usually 1.2x to 3x - depending on how much dialogue, action, or how predictable a scene is). I don't find it works for comedy (timing is pretty crucial) but for dramas or action-oriented shows - like the Walking Dead - it's excellent. I'm able to watch a lot of shows I wouldn't have been able to watch otherwise. If you feel like you've missed something or need to slow down, it's easy to rewind or adjust the speed.

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Speaking from a purely selfish POV, the collapse in rates are doing great for my own industry, considering how the shortage of drivers was killing us for a period of time.

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3. I've watched Godfather more times than I can count. Yet, it took many times before I noticed that Michael walked out of the rest room at Louis Restaurant much differently than when he walked into the rest room, the latter as though he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And, of course, that's how Michael's walked through the remainder of the movie and in the sequels. I don't believe that could be noticed at a faster speed. Did the actor or the director create this important difference in the way Michael walked?

former

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Re 2 : Caste is a secular bottom-up phenomenon in Indian society. It is an outcome of the immense heterogeneity of the land - racial, lingual and cultural. It was never something imposed by a certain dynasty or empire as suggested by this article.

Countries elsewhere have dealt with racial and cultural heterogeneity with violent methods, ethnic cleansing being the norm. India, being a largely non-violent society preferred social segregation over violent ethnic cleansing and imposition of homogeneity. It's the choice made by the people of the land.

Given that pre-Islamic India is largely a-historic, as there are no records of what happened, I would be interested to know how you came to this conclusion?

I have an alternative conclusion - we can see a proto-Caste system evolve in South Africa. A foreign conquest reduced the locals to hewers of wood and drawers of water. As some inter-marriage took place and other groups were imported, the system became more complex.

But ground up it was not.

Caste and Class are two very different things. Varna (class) is a system that dates back well into pre-christian times and possibly had a top-down basis and some amount of religious sanction. The four varnas (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sudra) refers to four classes and it is not dissimilar to the class system in other ancient Indo-Aryan societies in Asia.

Caste (Jati) is a secular phenomenon which was prevalent even in areas like Tamil Nadu long before the Aryan incursion into these regions. It became increasingly complex and occupation based and is not directly linked to Varna. The caste identity is more complex and far more finer than the Varna identity.

AL Basham, the renowned Indologist and Sanskritist, shares this view and disapproves of the attempts to paint Caste as a subdivision of Varna. Varna and Jati are two very different things.

So I can read what you said, but what I am hearing is that you will not defend a single one of those claims - from India being non-violent down to caste being bottom-up - and instead are going to move the goal posts, cite someone obscure on an irrelevant point, and then we will both move on.

I am not being unfair am I?

There is a reason why South Indian politics is so often involved in a rejection of caste and even Hinduism. Conquest from the north tends to leave the people conquered at the bottom of the pile.

1. AL Basham is not obscure. Am sure even Mr Cowen is familiar with Basham.
2. South Indian politics and caste : Well, inter-marriage across castes is lowest in Tamil Nadu, the so-called heartland of Dravidian politics. And caste-intermingling is highest in Punjab, the birthplace of Hinduism. A link here -
http://rq.nationalinterest.in/2014/09/marrying-out-of-caste-1/
3. "Conquest from the north" - Not sure what conquest you are referring to. The Tamil country, for the most part, was ruled by indigenous rulers, notwithstanding the Aryan cultural influence. Yet, caste is very much a part of Tamil life. Perhaps more a part of Tamil life than that of Hindi heartland.

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You are factually wrong on the claim that "there are no records of what happened," since there are records by Greek visitors which dwell on precisely these questions. And guess what, the Greek writings show that Shrikanth is right - there was endogamy well before the Guptas, and it was based on jati and not varna. But on the other hand, I concede that I don't know how this ties in with the link that has been provided; I hope subsequent commentary on the methodology and such of the paper and further research might reveal more (at least the article is disturbingly casual in attributing causation).

Also, it is a problem that you speak in terms of sweeping simplistic generalizations whereas the devil is usually in the details. Not distinguishing between jati and varna is a very embarrassing mistake to make.

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Blah - Yes, agree with your points except that I feel Jati strengthened in the past 1000 years and wasn't all that prevalent a system in pre-christian times. Varna is much older. But its linkage with Jati is tenuous.

Even today, there are many many castes in India which are not aware of which Varna they fall into. Kayasth for instance belongs to Shudra varna (technically the "lowest" varna) yet it is very much upper caste (Jati). And Kayasths are among the most well educated people in North India.`

People often wonder - why all this in India, and not in other countries. Well, the simple reason is that this is an incredibly heterogenous country in a manner that few countries are. India is the only land on earth perhaps where you can find someone as dark as a kenyan as well as someone as fair as a Ukrainian living in the same village for millennia, without being aware of the racial difference!! It is remarkably racially diverse at a village level!! While US became a melting pot starting 17th century, and Europe in 20th century, India has been a melting pot for 3000 years! The difference is that in India, people have chosen NOT to melt but retain their distinct identities through endogamy.

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Re the container ships: I predict you shouldn't go to your dentist in the next few months. It's their funds which own the container ships.

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5. This what happens when the Fed and other central banks mess with market forces. It's not capitalism.

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I've never heard of that animal in the photo before. Wow ...

One hopes this story stays small, the adoption-abandonment aftermath of Beverly Hills C. I and II and those unrealistic Disney movies about puppies with spots was tragic

Yeah ...

My first thought was, "I want one of these beasts for a pet!"

Then I found out they live to be 40 years old. I'd have to make provisions for the damn thing in my will.

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5 - I'm curious about your sudden interest in shipping rates. A couple of book recommendations to see into the culture:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Shipping-Man-Matthew-McCleery/dp/0983716307

http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Seaman-Francisco-Goldman/dp/080213548X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454026103&sr=1-1&keywords=the+ordinary+seaman

One has a much happier ending than the other. Marine Money has a few books worth reading.

Yo - The KGs that the German dentists and other professionals were heavily invested in financed mostly small heavylift ships and small feeders. Most of them got wiped out several years ago, culminating in Beluga going belly up.

Matt2 January 28, 2016 at 7:13 pm

The-Shipping-Man-Matthew-McCleery

Hi Matthew. I do like a man who uses the company he runs to publish his novels. I hope it works out for them both.

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#1 - The "Goethe Festival" episode of Barney Miller was one of the great shows from that Golden Age. (Detective A insists he cannot trade his upcoming vacation days to Detective B, who needs those specific days to romance a woman who can assure him access to a lease for an uberdesirable apartment with a balcony not far from midtown, because he - Detective A - must attend the bucolic once-every five years "Goethe Festival". Hijinks ensue.) Also, the Professor from Gilligan's Island - and even the Dad in the Brady Bunch - were based in part on Goethe. Also, unmentioned in the New Yorker, Goethe was primary in that small band of thinkers who had or have the numerical, biological, and local knowledge necessary to put the machinations of world-famous aggressively atheist scientific investigators into the proper perspective (Kolmogorov, Agassiz, Medawar, Einstein, Godel and Popper are a few others). Also, Goethe (like Pope and Keats, although I am reluctant to rely on this datum, as Pope and Keats sound awful similar in Russian) translates into Russian , for some reason, almost perfectly (I admit that I am guessing at this by the way, as I am not fluent in German and barely fluent in lieder-German), so there is no question among Russians that he is a great poet (Dante is the only poet of similar rank I can think of who translates as well into any form of English postdating the turn of the 17th century anno domini). And Goethe, like Hawthorne and Joyce, had a nice wife (one's indie-film nephew should do a trilogy on the three of them and how they met their adorable wives).

Postdating the turn of the 18th century, I meant to say (brings Dryden back in the picture with Longfellow). That being said, these are deep waters and I could easily be wrong.

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Who describes an animal as "four-legged"? How many legs were they expecting? Did they think it was an armchair?

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1. "However, I have to admit that they made me think of a famous quotation from Goethe’s Faust:

"Die Botschaft hör ich wohl, allein mir fehlt der Glaube"" –"
"I hear the message well, but lack Faith’s constant trust."

Dr Jens Weidmann President of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Keynote speech given at the City of London Corporation, Sept. 6, 2012.

Difficult to imagine Janet Yellen using a quote from Mark Twain in a speech.

I think I understand what you are getting at, but the problem with your example is that Mark Twain is perhaps the most quotable American of all, including by Janet Yellen:

“Mark Twain described your friendly local banker eloquently many years ago: “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”
― Pamela Yellen, The Bank On Yourself Revolution: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/24679168-the-bank-on-yourself-revolution-fire-your-banker-bypass-wall-street-a

Instead of Mark Twain, a better example might have been say Henry James or even Herman Melville, whose quotes seldom gets used except for the opening and closing lines of _Moby Dick_. OTOH a fairly high percentage of economists are highly bookish and read a lot, and might not hesitate to quote James or Melville. I don't know if Yellen is one of them but I wouldn't bet against it.

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#5. Strange the article doesn't mention the collapse in oil prices as a main factor for cheap freight rates...

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sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I've added you guys to my personal blogroll.

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