Friday assorted links

1. What we learn from collecting lots of data on San Francisco rents.  And here, both are excellent and useful pieces, basically SF is ****ed.

2. How do trees sleep?  Paper here: “Quantification of Overnight Movement of Birch (Betula pendula) Branches and Foliage with Short Interval Terrestrial Laser Scanning.”

3. Review of Singapore’s driverless taxis to come.  And Uber knows you are willing to pay more when your battery life is low.

4. Deirdre on public bathrooms.

5. The horror markets in everything the horror.

6. Cato vindicated, apology and also broader rethink of method is due.


From the McCloskey piece (#4):

A year later I tried to get Harvard to change my degree from Harvard College class of ’64 to the women’s college, Radcliffe. The male dean I spoke to thought not. I whined, “But the State Department had no problem giving me an F passport.” With a smile in his voice he replies, “But Harvard is older than the State Department!”

Umm, why on earth should Harvard accede to such falsification?

Good comment.

I'm less interested in why Harvard should accede to falsification than in what this reveals about McCloskey.

I respect this person as an economist, but he/she unambiguously dd NOT receive his/her degree from Radcliffe.

This is very important, because it avoids the semantic fox-trot around the meanings of male, female, gender, sex, etc. typically used to avoid recognizing the delusions of those suffering from gender dysphoria.

We see clearly here that McCloskey, because of a psychological disorder, wants to falsify objectively true facts (about the past), wants to draft others into this effort, and cannot (or will not?) recognize that there is anything strange about this.

I wonder if it was Straussian linkage from Tyler. McCloskey's parenthetical comments are so strange that they overshadows whatever point s/he might have. It's also odd how s/he uses verbs like 'cry' and 'whine' when referring to his/her own behavior. Who does that? It's like s/he's trying to portray himself/herself as some kind of stereotypical, histrionic woman. If s/he was literally crying in front of that passport office woman, she (the passport woman) must have been terrified, given McCloskey's general habitus.

Why is it so hard to say "she"?

Because it's not accurate.

Yeah, that's bizarre, and made even more bizarre by the fact that he doesn't seem to understand that it would make him look weird(er)

1. "Basically, I think San Francisco is ****ed."

Depends on your definition of ****ed. If you mean that the city becomes more desirable, crime falls, the quality of residents improves, productivity per resident rises, etc., then yes, it is ****ed. But a lot of people (and a lot of economists) would consider those excellent outcomes.

"It’s an amazing place. [...] For the love of god, keep adding homes."

If San Francisco had the population density of Hong Kong, would it still be an amazing place? A lot of people find that level of crowding rather hellish. And even in Hong Kong, the strategy of packing people into ever-smaller units hasn't exactly been a huge success. For example:

I liked the Michael Andersen article, and thought it could be taken at face value.

I think when he says "for the love of god, keep adding homes” he recognizes that the pace is not going to be too high, and as he says, may become self-limiting. So "build as fast as you can" would be not very fast for SF.

Further south:

"Irvine built nearly half of the new homes, condos, and apartments in Orange County over the last six years. Certain sections of the city being bought by 80 percent international buyers."

If they find it hellish, they will leave. In Hong Kong, leaving just means moving to another overcrowded place.

... except crime is skyrocketing. Property crimes are up roughly 60% from 2010, roughly the time that housing costs started shooting up.

There's a lot of anger and desperation in the bay area and it seems to be leading to more crimes against the people who can afford the million dollar homes.

We are moving to Hayward, they are managing to build there. 53 houses on a 4 acre lot and we got the last one. The suburbs along the BART are the only hope. There are a dozen lots that size in little San Bruno where we are now, the builders just aren't pulling the trigger. Need something from the state or federal level to break the log jam.

Somehow, I don't think allowing new construction will magically turn San Francisco into one of the densest cities on Earth overnight. Tone it down a bit.
And the problem with Real Estate is that prices are highly dependent on the small percentage of people who are buying/selling/moving out of the entire market. SF is in a huge boom right now, but if the Valley money dries up or software salaries level off, then the music stops and we find out how is left without a chair. The only certainty is that prices *can't* rise at the same year-over-year forever.
OTOH, if you want a healthier market, that is less dependent on a single sector's growth, you can change the zoning to allow more housing stock. But that's a fight that the homeowners have consistently won in SF. So basically it's f**ed.

6. I don't approve of Krugman's habit, in his column and on his blog, of ridiculing those with whom he disagrees. I assume he does it because he understands the number one rule in business: know thy customer. My view is let Cato be Cato. People (at least the people who matter) aren't stupid, and understand that Cato is a public advocacy organization. Cato has no monopoly on "hackery" (Krugman's term). Poor Mr. Glasner was accused of committing the ultimate sin among the faithful: heterodoxy. He's come home, and all is well in the kingdom (if not in economics).

Krugman was more annoyed at Cato's infringement of his perceived monopoly on “hackery”

The he should run for president.

Krugman and DeLong behaving like infantile imbeciles. And Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

Rayward, with all due respect, you are talking out of your arse. As even David Glasner himself now admits, there was no attempt at suppressing his work at all. And as the director of Cato's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, I dare you to look at our blog, Alt-M, and our various publications and programs, and conclude that we aren't pretty darn "heterodox" ourselves.

Your ongoing series about money at Alt-M is excellent: informative and clearly written. Some of the MR readers might find it worth their time.

Thank you, Rich.

Re: Rents. The San Francisco area trend tends to mirror the national trend.
It's not until the mid-80s that San Francisco index outpaces the national index.

One could call Delong's and Krugman's conduct Trump-like.

Why? Is Deirdre's opinion or perspective invalid because of a vested interest in the outcome? Aren't we all equally affected and thus equally entitled to our opinions? Wouldn't Deirdre's personal experiences be illustrative of considerations outside the experience of the rest of us?

I'm more confounded by the tack of the article on the whole, that proceeds as follows:

1. This has never been a problem before.
2. This is not a problem now.
3. Trans women are scared to go into men's bathrooms.
4. There are no documented cases of violence.

Fine. I accept all that. But then the state of nature is indifferent between a trans woman peeing in a male or female restroom, except for an irrational fear based on my experience.

As a male who has been yelled at for inadvertently walking into a ladies restroom, and who has observed women who deliberately walked into men's rest rooms with impunity and without male complaint, I assure you that there is no symmetry, and that women are treated more favorably.

Potty parity, as the authors first platform, is a logistical issue. I find it a curious matter that equal accommodation for women always seems to cost more money, even when designed from scratch. High maintenance costs leads to higher total cost of ownership.

On the bathrooms, it's a great example of the increasing trend to punish outsiders, rather than correct or talk with them.

First was Charlotte's law. Three months ago there wasn't a problem with trans people in bathrooms in Charlotte. Everyone went along and got along. If someone wasn't quite passing, well, you could tell your friends about it, have a laugh, then everyone moves on with their life.

First, Charlotte passed a law that said no business could regulate bathroom and locker use. There was no need for this. There may have been thoughts that some businesses weren't behaving properly and needed to be punished, but there was no real problem being fixed here. What was once handled informally and successfully now has to be handled formally, and that introduces a bunch of problems. With that law, a Charlotte gym could not keep me out of the women's locker room.

Again, there was no need for that first law, just a desire to punish.

Second, North Carolina passed a law that did two things. #1 was undoing the Charlotte law, which I'd agree with, but that wasn't enough. There was this weird need to punish the community that started it. So #2 was to come up with another law that went even further, and forbid people from using bathrooms that don't correspond to their birth certificates. Now what has happened informally and successfully needs to be handled formally, which introduces lots of problems.

Again, there was no need for that second law, just a desire to punish.

Now we have various groups and the Federal government decide that they, too, need to start punishing, so there are pull outs of business and threats to cut off funds.

Again, a desire to punish.

I've noticed a general trend in a lot of political discourse, too, where if you don't like what someone says on social media, you don't respond or argue. Instead, you tattle to their employer, for some hare-brained reason.

(Tyler, how much to crowd-fund an edit button?)

Second paragraph is a dupe.

The phrase "and forbid people from using bathrooms that don’t correspond to their birth certificates" should add "at government facilities" after the word "bathrooms"

This is an excellent point. I didn't know Charlotte passed a law first. So it seems both sides are guilty of playing politics with a non-problem, and liberals struck the first blow.

Frankly I think this issue isn't worth our time and attention. It's not like we have to worry about anything more important.

The issue came up in our local high school district. A transfemale sued to use the girls locker room, and won. Then a bunch of parents complained that they didn't want someone with a penis in the girls locker room with their daughters.

I don't think it's an issue, but something tells me that myself and other taxpayers will end up paying for the care and feeding of various lawyers here. Am I allowed to be unhappy over this?

No. Your unhappiness constitutes "bullying" of the transgendered and violates federal law. Also, you can't get tenure, at least not in Tyler's department.

You should be sent to jail for this comment.

I don't have any strong feelings about the nonsense with the laws, on either side. But what bothers me is reports of women getting beat up for not looking womanly enough, women peeking through into the stalls to make sure there are no men (very much not cool for the women who experience this), cops dragging women out of bathroom waiting lines because they don't look feminine enough but refuse to show ID ... stuff like that.

I'm not interested in pointing fingers about who started what. No matter the situation, the public response in some quarters is disgraceful, to say the least.

In the video of the women getting harassed by a cop in a bathroom lineup, however, I was impressed to see that the entire lineup of women abandoned their call to nature in very outspoken protest against the cop's refusal to be reasonable.

But what bothers me is reports of women getting beat up for not looking womanly enough, women peeking through into the stalls to make sure there are no men (very much not cool for the women who experience this), cops dragging women out of bathroom waiting lines because they don’t look feminine enough but refuse to show ID … stuff like that.

Remind me: what were you saying about conformity in the other thread?

No one cared about this until some masters of manipulation and distraction made it one of the biggest issues in the nation.

Also, note that those are exceptions, not the norm. The whole thing about ... all the rest of the woman leaving the bathroom lineup in protest over the absurdity of the situation? I guess we will always have those who are so lacking in self confidence and independent sense of identity that they need to get their sense of worth and identity from demonizing others. It doesn't have to be that way, but so long as their are cheap political points to score in so doing, I think it will remain with us.

Diedre is not convincing. She's framing/limiting the discussion.

Not convincing because she's not honest.

The difference being that Adler's comments were deleted in an apparent attempt to hide the author's wrongdoing, where as your comments are deleted because you are a self absorbed clown who adds nothing to the conversation. There is a huge difference between deleting substantive commentary you disagree with and deleting "Trump 2016! Come look at my crappy blog" spam.

Because you are a humorless, borderline insane narcissist. Duh.

Right answer. In fact your rebuttal proves my assessment.

Harding is the living embodiment of Dunning-Kruger effect.

"Harding is the living embodiment of Dunning-Kruger effect."

-Uh, no. I am fully aware of my limitations.

If Tyler's not going to do something about these impersonating fake posts I'm going to have to post even more than I already do to prove who I truly am.

I definitely wouldn’t be doing the spam if I didn’t think my more substantive comments wouldn’t be indiscriminately deleted.

Fascinating. So you simply have to post here, and since your comments get deleted, why put any effort into them?

I think I've identified a flaw in the logic.

You comment is exactly what im talking about, someone deleting your comments does not justify you spewing your diarrhea all over their blog. Only a narcissistic bone-head would think otherwise. And, as i recall, when Scott Alexander asked you the same question over at SSC you admited that the whole thing started when you began personally insulting those who disagreed with you, not due to indiscriminate deletion as you claim.

Sure, it started with personal insults on my part, but it ended with Tyler's indiscriminate deletion of all my comments, no matter how substantive.

"someone deleting your comments does not justify you spewing your diarrhea all over their blog"

-Why not?

Let's see how long we can keep him going....

Why not? Don't you see just asking that question proves your blinkered self-absorption?

(still going)

Are you sure? Perhaps then you can see how not recognizing your own narcissism is kind of a hallmark of it. The world sees you quite differently than you see yourself.

6. This is why liberals cannot be trusted on anything that comes out of their mouths. Not only do they have serious character flaws, they falsely project these same flaws onto their adversaries.

1. Meh. For the research to be informative we need to know what rental prices would've been in the absence of rent control (not that we even need the data to guess the answer). Which is of course not an argument in favor of rent control, this is Econ 101 stuff.

As for his alleged ability to predict rent levels, we don't really see what model he used, but the graph shows this:

Median asking monthly rent
0.377216 * units ** -2.55214 * wages ** 1.89709 * employment ** 1.51456

That's some weird notation, I don't know what those numbers are supposed to mean. They look like they might be the results of a regression, e.g. maybe in sensible notation the equation is supposed to be this:

Median asking monthly rent = 0.377216*units + -2.55214*wages + 1.89709*employment + 1.51456

But then the sign on wages makes no sense. Moreover intro econometrics students are taught the danger of regressing P on Q. If those are regression results I'm unimpressed, again a lesson from Econometrics 101 is that any dummy can get R-squareds of .98 or .99 if they're looking at time series data.

Or maybe he was doing something other than OLS, but the reader is given no clue. If those **'s are literally meant to be exponents, that's a wacky amount of exponentiation.

If there truly was no reliable time series of SF rental housing data, then he's done a service by creating a new data set. But he hasn't done anything useful with the data. Time to bring in someone with statistical or econometric expertise.

I think they are exponents, like = ((0.377216 * units)^-2.55214) * (wages^1.89709) * (employment^1.51456)

Or maybe = 0.377216 * (units^-2.55214) * (wages^1.89709) * (employment^1.51456)

Probably that.

Exponents in many programming languages is " ** ". And also, it's the only way it makes sense. I know it's true, but wouldn't have caught it....

The base graph that he is trying to fit is logarithmic.

So it looks like I he did linear regression on the log-plot and then wrote out the formula in "linear-space" as a product-of-exponents.

Isn't it ironic, that you're criticizing someone's expertise without knowing basic notation?

Equations are often estimated in log form, meaning the "parent" form has a lot of exponentiation as in the present case in the graph. It is not necessarily "wacky." But maybe it needs justification. Anyway, the final two points of mkt42 are very good: the estimates surely suffer from simultaneous equation bias (regressing rent on units when units is surely also a function of rent), and no account has been taken of trends, which are obviously there.

Obviously it could be improved with instruments, and of course rent control is important, but:

"Moreover intro econometrics students are taught the danger of regressing P on Q."

Ya ok let's try to apply some context before going all 101 here? If we think a little bit critically, we'll note that actually, in any given year the Q is essentially fixed. Some units will come and some will go, but the concern here is much subtler (i.e., autocorrelation of P across time) than just some "these two variables are both endogenous 101 101 101".

Not to mention, even in the worst of cases OLS is informative if you think about the likely sources of bias. ANYWAY.

2 is a wonderful example of how the popular press overplays the scientific paper. "Sleep" eh?

From the paper: " The movement of leaves is connected to changes in turgor pressure (Holmes and Shim, 1968) which is controlled by the osmotic state of the cells. Changes in water transport and in the concentration of various metabolites result in changes in osmotic flow and thus, through changes in the shape of individual plant cells, eventual movement at the scale of individual plants or plant parts. The literature identifies two common reasons that drive these changes, namely plant water balance (Chapin et al., 2002) and photoperiodism (McClung, 2006; Nozue and Maloof, 2006; Sysoeva et al., 2010). It would be plausible that the changes in turgor pressure resulting in a circadian rhythm of leaf movement also apply to the branches and thus cause a circadian rhythm of branch movements in trees. "

If your definition of "sleep" is behavioral change by the organism, perhaps not. This sounds more like pressure loss in absence of transpiration.

2. Well it is a little bit interesting that trees change their shape during the night, but it's hardly earth-shaking news that plants behave differently at night than they do during the day.

What's a little more eye-opening is that during the night plants tend to consume oxygen rather than generate it.

Most eye-opening of all was when I learned that trees can (not necessarily do, but can) generate significant amounts of air pollution. Maybe Ronald Reagan was right about those killer trees.

If you can smell them, hydrocarbons are in the air.

Regarding Krugman and Delong, it's interesting to me that the economics profession evidently has no norms of civility, honesty, or free expression. It makes everything any economist says somewhat suspect, in my eyes. Obviously, some economists might, as individuals, practice civility, honesty, or free expression, but that would be true in any group of people, so there would be no reason to trust economists over the populace as a whole.

There is quite a big difference between the profession of economics and blogs written by economists. Sometimes they write about economics but not always. Krugman for instance, rarely writes about economics. He might try to disguise his political views as economics but it is obviously clear that his blog is about politics, and that is it.

What I do find amazing for Krugman is just how insufferable he is. I mean, does anyone like him? He must be on lonely, bitter guy....

I am comfortable with people who are half right, or right half the time, but many are not.

Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman are similarly pilloried by people who want them to be right all the time.

That is an unrealistic expectation.

Tyler is a lot of things, but a tyrant is not one of them. I've written some pretty vicious, and quite frankly baseless, stuff about Tyler when I think he's being a sycophant, but I don't think he's ever deleted my posts. If I were him, I probably would have gotten rid of a few of the ones that were loaded with ad hominem attacks. On that note, Mr. Harding, you sir, are a moron.

+2, one for Tyler, one for Harding.

No, being remarkably unintelligent makes you a moron.

The real issue with public bathrooms: why can't we have fully enclosed stalls?

They could install paid fully enclosed stalls, requesting "please deposit your $0.01 here to cover the lifetime cost difference of the upgrade". But probably that would cost more to collect than it would be worth. There are advantages in having a pool of taxpayer money sometimes.

I suggest capping deductions for business luncheons at $100 a person, lists of attendees required, to more than cover the cost. The government can create a special reserve account until the next recession and install them at that time.

In the UK you find paid-for public bathrooms in busy facilities are common. Usually it's about 30p (50c). These bathrooms are always cleaner, well-maintained and properly lit than the non-paying ones, and there is generally an attendant/cleaner around. The tramps and druggies stay out, and its a much better experience.

I've always thought they were a great example of market forces at work. "Free" bathrooms are often deeply unpleasant places to the point of being unusable (and therefore not used). Charging is the superior equilibrium.

1. Harder to clean since there is more baseboard since the stall walls go all the way to the floor. The baseboard/floor interface both collects more dirt and is harder to clean

2. More chance of people doing illegal or unwanted activity in the stalls since they are more private

We can require micropayment that costs less to collect than the sum of operating and capital costs. Also, we can just spray a bunch of chemicals until we get the equivalent of the cleanliness we want. The baseboard will also hold in bleach.

Demand paid fully enclosed stalls now.

Also, robot cleaners. Actually, the cost of deploying robot cleaners would probably more than cover the cost, but then again, the savings could just be savings instead of reallocated to private stalls.

“Before I “passed” (surgery, working at it) I was frightened to go into a ladies’ room, but I could hardly go into a men’s room in a dress. You can imagine how dangerous that would be!

I have seen women use the men's room at crowded events because of the long lines in woman's room. Men do not care nor is it more dangerous that being in any secluded place.

Now women might care.

I admire Deirdre McCloskey* but he has never "passed." Although lately it has helped that the loosened skin and ascending vocals of old age have diminished the masculinity of both his countenance and his voice. In my experience, very, very, very few transgendered individuals "pass." I spent a few New Years Eves in the gay districts of Seattle and Portland and met many transgendered individuals, and not a single one really "passed." The women-turned-men looked like bearded ladies (it seems facial hair is a necessity of the genre, even though, as a man, I hate it!) or, at best, 14 year old boys whose testosterone wasn't quite yet up to the task demanded of it. The men-turned-women are forever cursed by manly shoulders and rough-but-high vocals caused by months or years of forcing a higher pitch than is natural. For me the illusion of tolerance was shattered when I asked a gay friend why he didn't date his female-to-male-transitioning roommate; eventually he conceded that for the purposes of dating his roommate wasn't a man. That's about all I have to say on the subject.

*It should be noted he is not a drag queen whose eminence is known by one name, like Divine or RuPaul. I wasn't sure who "Deirdre" was at first, and I doubt "Donald" would have been given the same benefit.

Do you admire everyone who dumps his wife in order to find himself? For myself, I admire no one in that category. Total non-discrimination, that's my policy.

It's a definite plus in my book. No, not really. On balance he's admirable. Who are some faultless people you admire?

You don't have to be faultless for me to admire you, but Deirdre McCloskey is below the moral Mendoza line, so to speak. George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney have all displayed enough integrity in their personal and business lives for me to admire them. (Not that public figures are my particular objects of admiration, they're just a convenient and understandable reference.)

The rental graph seems silly since it is in nominal dollars. "Nominal prices went up 6%/year in the 70's" and "Nominal prices when up 6%/year in 2000's" are VERY different statements.
Inflation between 1970 and 1989 averaged ~6%. Inflation over past 15 years is ~2%/year. Thus, REAL prices in SF were essentially unchanged for 20 years, then started increasing by 4.5% over the past 15. Seems like a fundamentally different conclusion, once you adjust for inflation. I mean maybe Scott Sumner thinks there is causation and all we need to bring real SF housing prices down is a huge bout of inflation ;)

Ah, confusingly, the first chart in the 2nd link is "nominal" (and a much better "fit" to the 6.6%/year), the others are CPI adjusted.

Tangent point from #4:

"This is politics of the worst type pure and simple by religious fanatics and Trump-like exploiters of latent bigotry (though to Trumps credit he also labeled this problem a phony, non issue)."

Maybe he needs to update his priors on what is Trump-like.

A leading "anti" argument in the bathroom brouhaha seems to be that all sorts of creeps will go to women's bathrooms to fulfill their perversions. I don't know how plausible that is, but when you think about it, there are probably more creeps than transgender individuals, so perhaps it's not so unrealistic. In general, it's baffling that so much attention is being paid to the problems of such a tiny minority.

One creep is too many when the law provides the creep justification to be there. That's the issue. A predator or pervert cannot be removed by the cops. How stupid is that?

6. Oh. I guess I was hoping that archaeologists had uncovered proof that Carthage really was resurgent.

It seems to be resurgent now. And they signed a peace treaty with Rome about 30 years ago. Cato is probably spinning in his grave.

Re SF rents:

Wait, isn't this Kevin Erdmann's entire schtick?

* People will expand housing consumption until the median housing consumption is approx. 20-25% of median income. They will make whatever tradeoffs necessary to do so.
* Until such tradeoffs get too much, at which point the rents rise past that point up to the 50% of income we're seeing today in big cities like NYC, SF, LA, Miami...
* At which point wages go up to meet the rents and rich people start pushing out the poor people, because $3,000/month on an 80% pay raise works at $80/hour on a way it doesn't at $8.
* Cue America.

The whole bathroom discussion is a diversion.

I would like to read Diedre's writing on public and high school changing rooms. Aside perhaps from some makeup and hair length, a naked transgender (not transsexual, transgender) woman is a naked man. At that point, does he/she/ze identifying as a woman have any mitigating effect on any women or girls who are in the room? Apparantly, the women and girls historic horror and trauma from being in this situation was an expression of their bigotry. And this absolutely is happening and is fully a part of the ostensible civil rights movement as being promulgated by the Administration.

People simply have trouble believing that the Obama administration is that crazy. It is.

true. Making my little girl shower with boys at school is insane. Also evil.

OT: The Nigerian Strategy

"Nigeria is beating the West at its own word game, using a strategy that sounds like Scrabble sacrilege."

Krugman is a great economist and a great economics blogger. As a political commentator, however, he is very bad.
His bad faith, his violence, his insulting tone pollute his arguments, which are rarely deep anyway and mostly consist of attacking straw men. I am not surprised by what I learnt reading 6.

Particularly bad this season was his criticism of Romney's discourse against Trump, and the series of blog posts attacking Sanders for a low-quality analysis of his economics program by a professor at UMass Amherst who had nothing to do with Sanders' campaign. (Google them)

If this may rejoice his opponents from the right: he has lost a large part of his credit on the left during the Sanders-Clinton battle, as one can see by reading its comments section. I doubt that when this election cycle is over, he will ever retrieve the political aura and influence he used to have on the progressive camp.

Krugman was pretty critical of Obama during the 2007-8 primary season. Nobody on the left seems to care or even remember so I doubt his criticism of Sanders will hurt him very much. And Krugman's criticism was directed at Gerald Friedman's analysis and the way in which the Sanders campaign cited that analysis in support of its candidate's policies. Whether or not there was a formal relationship between Friedman and the Sanders campaign isn't relevant and I am not sure Krugman ever claimed there was.

Comments for this post are closed