Thursday assorted links

teaser s, like mathematical know how, consult, Black's Law Dictionary, circa, whenever u want 2 u lil p p sh . . .

prime numbers, and things, . . .

This is stupid and it's sad to see Tyler repeat it.

"I will kill you unless you pay me $200" is illegal, but it can be encoded as a prime number. OMG, illegal primez.

Exactly. If you encode an illegal message as a prime number, then yes it remains illegal.

#3 Hypothetically if the illegal message is xor'ed with the US constitution, the US constitution would be needed as the key to decrypt. Thus the US constitution hypothetically could be made to be illegal.

No. If I used a key to unlock a door and then walked in and murdered someone, that doesn't make the key, or the door, or walking illegal.

You are trying to apply logics to laws which sometimes do not work that way.

Another such attempts

"one of the most notorious attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat. Despite its name, the main result claimed by the bill is a method to square the circle, rather than to establish a certain value for the mathematical constant π, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. However, the bill does imply various incorrect values of π, such as 3.2. The bill never became law"

Wait, you just used those "illegal" words. Was that illegal? No.

I guess it is not even the words after all, never mind the encoding as a number.

Er, no, it goes a little deeper than that.

RSA keys are the factors of a very large number.

Say the government has a court order to compromise your key and prevent you from telling others that it's compromised.

It's now illegal to say "The government knows the factors for [this RSA key]."

Equivalently, it's illegal to publicly announce, "The factors for [RSA key] are [p] and [q]."

paradise lost, there never was a utopia, we was going 2b in . . .

and we is here 4u, in the future and the past, 2 consult with

we is fallen too, we don't claim, whatever it is, u is looking2 4 2 blame or take credit fo . . .

I'm at least modestly skeptical that it made sense to talk about "what and how much people at in the Soviet Union" _in general_. It was a huge place (even Russia is huge!) and the variation was really big. Moscow (and to a lesser degree Leningrad and some other cities or research stations, going down in importance quickly) could draw resources from other areas, and so you get a distorted view there. Transportation was bad, so more consumption was local. It mattered a lot if you could have access to a garden plot, and how much of the year you could grow things. I'm not sure it is very useful to talk about this question about, say, the current US _in general_, but for various reasons, it probably makes more sense than trying to do so about the Soviet Union. Just too much variation.

Even though there was wide regional variation, it's inarguable that evern privileged Moscovites were eating far below the standards of most Americans. See this link which was mostly collected in Moscow:

According to Yorman Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk's Cold Peace in 1952 the Soviet state distributed 443,000 tonnes of meat across the Soviet Union. Of that 110,000 tonnes went to Moscow. 57,400 tonnes went to Leningrad.

So it is clear that Moscow got a lot of the good stuff.

It would appear that Soviet citizens *on*average* did not eat as much meat as American slaves in the Old South until 1980. If we can believe Time on the Cross that is.

More than half of the food that Russians eat is grown by them at dacha's. This was true 100 years ago 50 years ago and last year too. This roughly 60% of their diet may be pretty good food and over time it has sustained the Russian people but it was seasonal and if it was root crops often kept past it's prime. So while the total calories may have been high and the food in general nutritious it probably doesn't compare with having a supermarket handy.

Are there really that many dachniks in Russia? I used to live a former Soviet country (with a better growing climate than Russia) and while there was a lot more home growing than in the US, it never seemed close to half of all the food consumed.

If Mc is all we can get as a robotic commenter, we have a long way to go.

Mc is commenting from the education apocalypse. Which seems an apt subtitle for MR.

I hear that the next model will be extremely powerful. I believe it's going to be called: Mc(2)

The bots are laughing at how easy it is to throw you off their trail.

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5. This Igor Birman fella seems interesting throughout. I particularly enjoyed a quote about him from his Wikipedia profile:

"Given what has happened and what we now know, Birman clearly did get it right. ….. some of the most 'advanced' techniques were used in studies of the Soviet economy….. But these techniques clearly did not perform as well as Birman's 'anecdotal economics' in getting the Soviet economic situation right. …..Yet if the process of scholarship is to avoid being a self-perpetuating and closed system of review and citation, which.. Birman encountered, there has to be a better arbiter than the refereed, scholarly journal. I would call it the reality test." [Wilhelm, J. H. (2003). The Failure of the American Sovietological Economics Profession. Europe-Asia Studies, 55(1), 59-74.]

Neither my wife nor I ever met Birman, but we know two of his daughters quite well. He was eccentric and quite difficult to get along with, but he was clearly on target in his corrections of various data sources on food counsumption in the former USSR.

Something I found odd was the focus on some of the data on calories but no data on proteins or vitamins. Needless to say an old generalization that the data seems to show is plenty of calories,available from bread and potatoes in the USSR,but far behind in proteins as seen especially in much lower meat consumption, as well as being somewhat behind as well in dairy products and such, with vitamins even worse given the Soviets being far behind in fresh vegetables and especially fresh fruit and berries.

It looks like, with food as with so much else, the Soviet Union was fairly successful at the big dumb things but much less successful at the small, the expensive, the complicated, the bespoke:

With respect to potaloes, we note first of all that while average Soviet consumption for the population as a whole was 119 kg urban per capita consumption was 90 and rural 164 kg. 60 This is further confirmation of the fact that less meat and milk products are eaten in the countryside than in the city. In this connection it is worth saying that in 1913 the Russian per capita consumption of potatoes was less than in 1976 – 114 kg, in spite of a much lower urban share of population (18 per cent compared with 61 per cent in 1976) – a fact that gives cause for wondering about dietary progress in this country.

So they could not provide fruit much less Indian food. But they could provide potatoes. To the point that the Russian diet was more reliant on potatoes in 1976 than it was in 1913. That is, the Russian diet was worse in 1976.

Last table, 7.1, is interesting.

Soviet consumption compared to US: 15% fruits and vegetables, 17% meat...120% alcohol :)

Plenty of bread, potatoes and vodka to go around.

I observe the same in basically all analyses of nutrition at national levels. WHO, FAO and others are full of analyses of "nutrition" at national levels, but they basically just take calories and make the assumption that if there are sufficient calories that the diet is likely to be varied. Which simply is not true in most poor countries.

It is, however, by far the most common assumption, and in fact I haven't seen any studies which go even partially beyond it, to include some estimates of Vitamin A deficiency in young children.

#6 They didnt find anyone reading Marginal Revolution at coffee shops? That's what I do.

#6. My initial reaction was, "they may think they're working, but nobody's earning enough to even cover the cost of coffee."


Logic and facts were trashed years ago so it is not surprising that algebra is now a sign of terrorism and arithmetic is criminal. A most useful topic that I recommend is a study of who managed to prosper by their own efforts during the Dark Ages. Young kids will soon need to know how to live in a world dominated by medieval obscurantism.

For the ultimate scene of horse sex, read Tom Wolfe's "A Man in Full". It takes up almost a full chapter, written in Wolfe's bravura style.

The article linked to on the same NYT webpage, Insider&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article, re: Russian doping of Olympic athletes, is much more interesting than horse sex. It's very sad that world class athletes, particularly those in individual sports, are so obsessed with recognition that they're willing to debase themselves by competing in the Olympic Games, a cesspool of corruption from site selection to media coverage to judging to athlete doping. It's an event that's sicker than cockfighting. And it ain't just the Rooskies doing the drugs.


The same things they do when they seem to be working while at work.

I always assumed everyone was a programmer or a graphic designer.

Are those the bison in Golden Gate Park? Would expect it to have actually happened there more than most places, although the same can be said for weird art projects.

#5 deserves its own separate MR post...but instead its hidden here among a deluge of random uselessness...while transgender bathroom markets in everything are reserved for their own lengthy protracted MR posts.

Economics blogs fellas!

BTW, that blog is one of the best blogs out there. Think MR without the inundation of "transgender bathroom markets in everything", "what should I be eating" and "books I've never actually read" posts, plus actually interesting economics-related blog posts.

When I've done work in coffee shops, a decent amount of the time is actually working. However, I'm disinclined to believe that very many of those people would actually have been actively working at that moment of they didn't know the question was about to come (they were asking around in the same coffee shop).

It's one thing to answer "what are you basically working on today" and "are you actually just checking out some news, on Facebook/Twitter/etc. and not working at this very moment" ...

2. No one has ever written about horse sex like Tom Wolfe in A Man in Full. One of the great literary passages.

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