Monday assorted links


Won't someone tell those poor Vietnamese they are oppressing themselves?!

My theory is that communists make corrupt capitalists, because that's what the schools teach. They can't teach moral capitalism, because admitting it exists denies the foundation of their own state.

But it is also how communists naturally think about capitalism - the capitalists don't add anything of value. They just steal the workers' surplus labor.

Add to which their view that all that matters is power, that there is no morality worth talking about except power, then naturally when Communism collapses, they steal everything that is not tied down.

The real question is whether Communism appeals to people with no moral conscience at all, or does it teach them to suppress whatever conscience they may have had, or both. I lean towards both.

Foucault is just Communism minus the gesturing at economic analysis. It's still all (only) about power. Good subtle post.

Vietnam hasn't been communist since the 80s. I flew VietJet and I was impressed with the AI. They seemed very realistic and wish they would replace flight attendants with AI on other airlines irrespective of the attire. VietJet is also one of the few airlines to offer a sunroof, which make the airframe seem less confined.

Unearned wealth doesn't change lives that much -- in a highly developed country with a strong social security net and very little poverty! These qualifications appear quite important to me...

So, pretty much all of the first world then.

Does Switzerland have anythint similar to our lower classes?

I'm not sure how Switzerland is relevant? Could you state your point clearly.

Unearned wealth doesn't change lives that much - in a highly developed country which still has high SES gradients on mortality, criminal behavior, health, and everything else, indicating that these correlations can very easily be driven by confounded non-wealth factors. But no, I'm sure the USA is totally different; their gradients are definitely not driven by confounding factors, definitely not!

Also, an unearned windfall is quite a bit different than inherited, unearned wealth. The former is spent primarily on consumption expenses (see — only 16% is saved) while the latter is doled out in investment expenses like education, childcare, housing in good neighborhoods, etc.

I wonder whether it will matter more in the New Sweden that is abuilding. Though building may not be the best verb for it.

Indeed, the health-income gradient is slightly steeper in Canada than it is in the U.S.

#1. Malcolm is 100% correct, but anyone who speaks Russian and English well has known for years that Pevear and Volohonsky are frauds. If you want to read Tolstoy and enjoy him in English, yes, Constance Garnett is still probably your best bet.

I'm not qualified to opine with certainty on it, but when I was looking into translations I got the distinct impression that the hype surrounding P&V was mostly just good marketing by the publisher.

Sounds plausible. With Garnett translations available everywhere--free online or around $9 apiece at Barnes and Noble--a new, in-copyright translation is probably the only way to make any money on the Russian classics.

I spent some time researching translations after reading Garnett's translations of War & Peace and Crime & Punishment, and it seems she is still the standard. A Belarusian friend who spent his school-years memorizing long passages of Russian literature vouched for her translations, and Tolstoy himself favored them in his lifetime. He seems like an authoritative critic. Almost every online article I read comparing the various translators suggested the same thing as the one Tyler linked to: Garnett may constrict the authors in certain instances and make silly, easily correctable errors, but she doesn't commit egregious and sometimes ruinous sins like many others.

I believe that it was the Maude translation of War and Peace that Tolstoy favored. That's the version I read and I enjoyed it. Tried a bit of the P&V and thought it was too choppy and had no flow.

The Garnett version seemed very archaic to me, although I'm sure it has its charms. I thought the Maude version was the best compromise between the two styles.

That may be. I remember reading Tolstoy was favorable toward her translations and wanted her to translate his later essays. Thanks for the tip on the Maude translation. I felt the same way about the P&V examples given in the linked article--stuttering and clumsy, where Garnett's language is simple and flow naturally.

I'm a native Russian speaker and I hate P&V with a passion. Their treatment of Master and Margarita makes it pretty much unreadable.

That explains a lot. I tried to read it and gave up.

Pevear doesn't read Russian (or much Russian), so apparently Volokhonsky does some sort of ultra-literal, probably unreadable translation using a Russian-English dictionary (her English is very poor), and then Pevear cleans up her work, more or less.

The only Pevear/Volokhonsky translation I've ever tried to read (and I didn't get far) was their "War and Peace," which came out hugely hyped by all and sundry and preceded by a fawning interview in the New Yorker. So my husband gave it to me for Christmas, since I hadn't read "War and Peace" since I was in college (Constance Garnett translation).

I got only 20 or 30 pages into it before I threw it down. It was god-awful. First of all P/V (sounds like some sort of sex act, doesn't it?) left all of Tolstoy's French passages in French, sticking the English translations of those passages into tiny, irritating footnotes at the bottom of the page. If I wanted to read some French, I'd read some Balzac. And their English style and diction was laughably crude and awkward. They were supposedly preserving the feel of Tolstoy's original Russian, but in fact they were setting up an impenetrable barrier between the reader and Tolstoy.

So I dumped the P/V book into the wastebasket, and my husband bought me a copy of Constance Garnett, which I re-read with great pleasure. Shortly after that, I was pleased to find some online remarks by Francine Prose, who had exactly the same reaction to that appalling couple as I did.

It's horrifying that bad P/V has driven out good translations of Russian classics. But there is now an entire highly fashionable literary sub-field of crude, unreadable English translations of foreign authors who actually write very gracefully. You should see how Balzac and Flaubert are translated these days.

#6 - Like many wealthier DC-area neighborhoods, a good number of Takoma Park property owners fight development for various NIMBY reasons. This NIMBYism makes housing scarce in attractive parts of town (like Takoma Park), making housing very expensive in these parts, and drives people further out into the burbs - which is pretty terrible for public health and the environment.

Given all that, it's hard to sympathize that they have finally found an inconvenience related to that which they cannot use their clout and wealth to disappear.

This seems like pure NIMBYism. And while I'm somewhat sympathetic to their point of view, it's pretty much a pure attempt to protect their housing values and quality of life at the expense of other drivers. The people driving through the area aren't breaking any laws or doing anything immoral.

Also, I'm hopeful the rapidly developing autonomous vehicles will rectify these kind of issues in the coming decades.

Uh, wealthy neighborhood or not, shouldn't we be trying to direct traffic away from residential neighborhoods?

Waze caused a big uptick in people cutting through neighborhoods where kids used to be able to play on the streets. It seems pretty reasonable to want to undo that effect.

Where is the traffic going to go?

And I would think the obvious solution is to cut the street in two and thus "fix" the issue. It's a fairly standard solution. I'm guessing the specific case cited is one where the residents don't want to live with the downside of becoming two cul-de-sacs.

I didn't read the article, so take this for what it's worth: Waze caused a change by technologically enabling cut-throughs that were impractical ten years ago. That's a bad thing. It's like inventing a new technology that has benefits but causes pollution. We should try to find a way to undo the pollution.

Cutting the street in two is one option, but it would be nice if there was a lower impact solution, like modifying the app.

"It’s like inventing a new technology that has benefits but causes pollution."

Yes, that's a good way of stating it. The new information availability is causing negative externalities.

"...but it would be nice if there was a lower impact solution, like modifying the app."

I doubt that would be effective. Someone would just create a new app without the artificial restrictions and everyone would start using that instead. Information flow is inherently hard to contain. I'm doubtful that any attempt to curtail this without some kind of physical constraint will work in the long run.

Google could negatively weight routes through residential areas. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen. "Traffic App has Surprising Child Death Toll: News at 11!"

As to some less scrupulous competitor arising, yeah, it's harder to deal with that. But it would also be hard to displace Google.

"It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen."

Hmmm, maybe. But as I said, people will just start using a different app. Waze, for example.

Also, I would say cell phone manufacturers that include texting are far more likely to be sued for that type of incident. There are actually public service announcements warning against just that scenario.

Waze is owned by Google.

Well it also has a huge positive externality of reducing congestion and routing around traffic incidents

You let your kids play in the streets of a major city at rush hour? Darwin would be proud.

Who isn't familiar with restrictions like "no right turn, 7-9AM, 4-6PM", which have been around for years?

I thought the cup de sac thing was more of an anti-crime measure.

"Well it also has a huge positive externality of reducing congestion and routing around traffic incidents"

Sure, hence "benefits." But clearly routing through residential areas is an unacceptable response to traffic.

"You let your kids play in the streets of a major city at rush hour? Darwin would be proud."

I gather you are completely unfamiliar with the problem and have trouble reading English, yet feel the need to comment with confidence? Darwin might be a bit sad.

Why take the Takoma Park hermits serious when they themselves daily drive on other residential streets?

#5 - Overblown anticipation for voice recognition. There will continue to be value for skilled curators/aggregators: there's already too much content to know what to ask for. And I expect that there will always be a population segment that tries to avoid oversaturation of 'echo chamber' media. That's one of the reasons I follow this blog.

That said, I expect that AI will eventually figure out how to deliver multiple viewpoints and stories to me in a pleasing, interesting manner. I'll still be in an echo chamber, just one that looks slightly different from a typical conservative/liberal one. A sufficiently AI-driven aggregator is the future, not build-your-own-with-your-voice.

#3...I'm praying these machines have a mute button.

yeah, overblown -- and user "Voice Command" is the more correct term.

But voice-command won't help -- still way too hard to find/organize good, personalized news sources.... even with a PC keyboard and lots pf time.

I'm very annoyed at lack of 'serious', organized news sources across the internet--- it's all conventional, mass market fluff/hype and pedestrian treatment of news. Really, really have to dig for facts on news of interest. Voice Command on consumer end wouldn't help a bit.

#6 don't know how this has anything to do with "the culture" of Takoma Park,MD. Everyone in the DC area would agree that Takoma Park is an interesting place, but this linked article is just about a normal traffic story.

Yeah, there was nothing distinctive to our People's Republic in this story, other than our proximity to some of the more heavily used traffic arteries into the city. If the folks on Elm Avenue had put on a protest with puppets or a parade or set up organic gardening containers in the street, that would be an instance of the culture that is Takoma Park- I mean, complaining about stuff is also part of our culture, but it's not very distinctive....

3. "The effects on most other child outcomes ... can usually be bounded to a tight interval around zero."
Such a terrifically droll turn of phrase.

4. "Unearned wealth" may be a misleading way to put it as single-time lottery earnings are not the only form of unearned wealth. Additionally, reports from two other countries have significantly different results. It seems that cash transfer effectiveness is highly responsive to the current economic situation of the recipient, which is not too surprising.

Note: By significantly different I don't mean huge, but notable improvements are found in at least the important categories of hunger, housing, and education. Medical increases were only seen in Kenya due to the already high amount of medical consumption in America.

#3...Also, being in these machines sounds like locked-in syndrome. Who would want that?

Never mind Ems, let's just perfect voice recognition software for now. It still has ways to go. Here is the experience of someone actually using it to do some work:

"Not a fast typist, Dr. Sutherland decided to use voice recognition software. For six months, he stayed up until midnight most nights, training the software until its speech recognition engine could transcribe his comments into text with few mistakes."

I am a native Russian speaker. I checked three examples provided against Tolstoy's original and in all three the P&V translation conveys Russian better. P&V's may not be great English (I would not know) but the author, Janet Malcolm, very clearly cannot read Russian properly and fails to understand subtleties. The "nice" vs "pretty" for хороша in "она была хороша. Не так хороша, как она, бывало, хотела быть хороша на бале" is a prime example.

Maybe I have an allergic reaction to Victorian/Edwardian prose. I could never get through a few pages of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy (with the exception of Brothers K) until the P/V translations came about. And then I devoured them as they came out in the 2000s. But as long as the comment section wishes to slay P/V by anectdata, allow me to add a datum to the contrary. P/V made Russian literature accessible to me in way that Garnett and Maude never did.

Which is great. All of these translations continue to be in print and each person will have one that fits them. I think it's a good thing. As to what version gets taught in schools, I personally don't care and doubt it matters much.

In the long run can a "bad" translation really cause any harm? The P and V translations sell well so they're obviously not hurting the popularity of Russian literature in translation.

Bikini Airlines: I'd love to see some Chicago firemen on that airlines.

As customers? As bikini clad flight attendants? Please clarify. (Or as P/V might say, please disambiguate.)

I have many favorite translators from Russian - McAndrew from Dostoyevsky (Karamazov Brothers} is the one I am currently reading, with the help of the commentary by Terras, wherein Terras makes a detailed effort to describe all the tones and untranslatable subtleties in that bazaar of a novel - narrated not by Dostoyevsky but by an anonymous Russian from the same town as most of the characters in that novel, and narrated for the most part, on purpose, in a much worse prose style than Dostoyevsky was capable of (saccharine effects, endless journalistic effects, cheap detective story effects, endless 'comical' diminutives and foolish, almost senile, over-use of adverbs, not to mention the dozen or so characters who unpleasantly say things in a way that makes it plain that they are ironically and/or coldly making fun of people who would actually talk that way) and worst of all, narrated with great stretches of character description which lack the noticing that Dostoyevsky, on his good days, was capable of - the trick being that it is easier to understand the truth of what was happening slowly filtered through a second-rate mind than it would be through the mind of an accomplished prose stylist. It is nearly impossible to translate that trick, that essential effect (which is a necessary effect, because the prose style, at several absolutely key but limited points, becomes first-rate - and I am trying to be mostly spoiler-free here - the memories of Zosima, the philosophical awakening of Grushenka, and the realization of several characters that everything they are witnessing makes no sense at all except that it makes perfect sense in the light of a not-too-distant future resurrection), but what translator is going to purposely write 900 pages of second-rate solecism-filled English prose to parallel Dostoyevsky's 900 pages of intended stylistic mistakes and gaffes, just to highlight the 20 or so pages of effortless transcendence which describe in their small scope half or more of the purpose of the whole novel? None that I know of. Tolstoy writes badly on purpose at times too (and his command of Russian was - compared, say, to Pushkin and Chekhov - fairly incomplete, as he was the most multi-lingual of authors at his level - and it showed, to the frequent detriment of his Russian prose style), and based on what I just said, I am not convinced that the comparative criticisms made by Janet Malcolm (who does not read Russian in the original) are fully justified, although of course the criticized translators will not be at their best with every author, and, as is the case with any other translator, their choices, even with respect to the authors they are most in harmony with, can be endlessly Monday morning quarterbacked. (Also, to respond to a comment in the linked article, I am not sure there is all that much envy of P/V among translators from Russian- back in the 70s and 80s I met quite a few translators from Russian to other languages , and a nicer bunch of people is hard to find).

I flew VietJet a couple of months ago. The stewardesses (and the male flight attendants) don't actually wear bikinis. The bikinis are, as far as I can tell, limited to the ads and a couple of promotional performances done on some flights for PR purposes.

I know y'all will be very shocked to learn that the reporting from Maxim is less than accurate.

It occurs to me that there is an obvious soluti8on to the Tacoma Park problem. The residents need to draw up a rota and get up early every morning. Then drive *slowly* around the neighborhood.

This is, of course, perfectly legal. It will also result in people reporting that commute times were very slow. Then the App will reroute them.

They just need a thick skin to put up with a lot of abuse.

Interesting that you linked to both the story about Waze/Google technology impacting neighborhoods and the Slate story about how technology is fundamentally changing how we consume radio. Many of the commenters in the Slate story diagnosed that the last attempt at reconfiguring radio, on demand/podcast, required too much cognitive effort, limiting it's usefulness to them. Traffic routing technology is fundamentally different - all of the action in highway congestion is at the high end of capacity utilization - in the most basic queueing system imaginable, delays are proportional to 1/(1-utilization), and the difference between delays at 90% and 95% is a factor of 2. The real world is much more complicated than any simple model, but the big picture is that Waze and similar apps allow an urban traffic network to more or less equalize delays across all routes, even if only a relatively small proportion of drivers are actively using the system to make decisions.

The day I realized that enough of my neighbors were using Waze (or INRIX or some other data-driven routing technology) that there was effective delay equalization in the Seattle area, I stopped putting cognitive effort into finding the fastest route and settled back to listen to NPR and enjoy the view of the mountains behind the skyline and the long line of brake lights... I can capture most of the benefit of Waze-type technology without any monetary or cognitive burden.

All of this suggests that both early adopters and the continuing users of Waze, etc will skew toward people who are convinced they can beat average. Since the one thing we know about driving is that people's self-assessment of their skill is essentially uncorrelated with their actual ability, this suggests that apps like Waze, which gather data from users, will supply information about the most motivated (aggressive) drivers to the most aggressive drivers. So the traffic generated by Waze might be different and less desirable than average to residents who suddenly have to put up with it.

Systematic deception to fool the routing algorithms is unlikely to succeed. Relying on voluntarily-supplied data from its users, Waze has probably had to filter out anomalous data for a long time. The earliest adopters I know all happen to be sport cyclists looking to track each other en route to a rather fluidly defined meeting place. Bicyclists generally move slower than cars in free-flow uncongested conditions, but can move faster than cars through heavy traffic, as an example of how unfiltered data would tend to understate congestion effects. And since many makes of car report their location and speed periodically to data aggregators, there is random-sample data available to some suppliers of routing information, so data-cleaning can't be ignored for voluntarily-supplied data.

Of course, this is all just jockeying for position in the coming autonomous car world. Because of the way this congestion externality works, traffic data companies can capture only a tiny part of the value of their information if they are selling into a competitive market of individual consumers. If they are selling to an entity which can organize demand to eliminate free-riding, such as a government or a small number of competitive vendors which supply comprehensive routing services, they can capture a bigger chunk of the value of their data.

To the article on millworkers' sign language:ébem

Comments for this post are closed