Tuesday assorted links

Comments

The Taleb article (chapter?) was utterly brilliant. Thank you for putting the link in.

I agree that it was insightful, but I can't help but be put off by how the man seems to believe the sun shines out of his ass.

Well, I might have seen a black swan over the last 10 days swimming at a local lake - only seen at a distance, as it minded its business floating several hundred meters away. Isn't Taleb to be praised for this further proof of his status? (Or is that just self-recommending mood affiliation - getting the jargon just right is tough.)

Wilipedia link or it's not a real P_A post.

Who in the hell says "flaneuring"?

If you need to say it, you ain't doing it right.

I suspect that he is purposely poking you in the eye. This article is blindingly obvious, extraordinarily challenging to all right thinking people, and describing the methodical way in which the brilliant and well educated are systematically destroying the foundations of the society.

I didn't get much out of the Taleb article except that it sometimes pays to accommodate the minority if it allows you to also serve the majority (his kosher lemonade example). But witness Corsica beaches and the riots concerning the "burkini". If the majority puts its foot down, it will get its way.

As for Taleb's strong assertion --in passing--that Macedonian is clearly different from ancient Greek, I'm not sure he's categorically correct. According to this Ohio State (and presumably neutral) website, it's unclear, though it seems Macedonian was distinct from ancient Greek, see: http://www.ling.ohio-state.edu/~bjoseph/articles/gancient.htm (There is some dispute as to whether Ancient Macedonian (the native language of Philip and Alexander), if it has any special affinity to Greek at all, is a dialect within Greek (see below) or a sibling language to all of the known Ancient Greek dialects. If the latter view is correct, then Macedonian and Greek would be the two subbranches of a group within Indo-European which could more properly be called Hellenic. ... As noted above, Ancient Macedonian might be the language most closely related to Greek, perhaps even a dialect of Greek. The slender evidence is open to different interpretations, so that no definitive answer is really possible but most likely, Ancient Macedonian was not simply an Ancient Greek dialect on a par with Attic or Aeolic)

I agree. Typical Taleb. Makes the simplest observations seem complicated. He describes it as "complex dynamics" when there are no dynamics to speak of and, unlike compkex dynamics where small variations in initial conditions can result in large differences in outcomes, he's describing routinely predictable outcomes.

It wpiuld have been much more informative had he deacribed conditions and given examples where the Tyranny of the Minority was rejected as an equilivrium outcome.

Sidebar: I once saw Taleb give a talk and--this is rare for me--I had to leave early. His ego was too large for him, his ego and me to inhabit the same (laege!) room.

Taleb's article is about situations with an intolerant minority and a tolerant (or "don't care" or "not worth making a fuss about") majority. When the majority is also intolerant, there are very different results. France's aggressively secular policy is an intolerant one.

Trump U was a huge benefit, we can all be certain.

After all, it didn't use any taxpayer paid tenured faculty, right?

This is the progressive case against charter schools: "Trump U was a charter school, wasn't it?"

Trump U was not a charter school, it was a Chaos Monkey in action. It was a think done impulsively, for quick profit, without any thought to the long term, not even the boomerang effect on the Trump brand.

http://fusion.net/story/336783/donald-trump-overton-window/

Nah, the progressive case against charter schools is in the paper Tyler linked #1.

I dodn't read it, but the summary says a particular set of Charter schools improved student test scores but not earnings (presumably because those improved test scores led to 10-12 years of leisurely secondary education).

The "case" is what now? That charter schools are better than other schools??

Charter Schools only pull away the students with parents who care, which are disproportionately good students. This in effect segregates public school system good students in charter schools and bad students in public schools. This is unfair for public school teachers who don't have the pleasure of dealing with good students and unfair for bad students who don't have the pleasure of ruining good students' education.

It isn't the purpose of schooling to make life congenial for teachers. It's the point of schooling to teach the young. There is no other service where people fancy manufacturing an artificial monopoly run by politicians and unions produces the acme of quality.

If the teachers don't like their working conditions, they might just persuade their odious unions to lobby the state legislatures to pass enabling legislation for sheriff's departments to build and maintain detention centers for incorrigibles. The school district can pay a capitation for each student so remanded and the schools can get down to teaching once the troublemakers have been removed from the premises.

There is no other service where people fancy manufacturing an artificial monopoly run by politicians and unions produces the acme of quality.

Someone hasn't been paying attention to healthcare policy debates over the past few years I see.

Trump U teaches a few valuable lessons:
1. There are no secrets to success in real-estate. Timing, persistence, risk taking, personality and a certain amount intelligence are what is needed.
2. Most school that make promises like Trump U. made are scams.
3. One should go to go to a school that gives a diploma that is respected, and not so much to learn.

1 and 2 speak well for teh socialism.

3. Has American culture become vulgar? Or was it always so? In the movies, aliens all look alike. No two people look alike, so why assume all aliens look alike. I'm fascinated that people come in so many different shapes and sizes, and that no two dress alike. Watch people walking through an airport (a favorite activity of mine) and explain why everyone not only looks different but dresses different. An interior designer friend pointed out that people who choose vulgar colors and fabrics for their home actually believe they aren't. Aren't vulgar, that is. Same applies to clothes. Why do men who can afford it purchase clothes any place besides Brooks Brothers? Did they not see George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's? An amaryllis is vulgar because it's ostentatious. For some reason, people have become more ostentatious, a condition not a few attribute to the internet. I suspect people have become more ostentatious because they have become more insecure, insecure in an age when even millionaires are life's losers. One of the presidential candidates is the epitome of vulgar. Moderation is the key to a happy life, and an easy way to avoid the vulgar.

We can tell things apart because of familiarity. Eskimos can identify more shades of white, Filipinos more shades of green. Showing aliens as looking alike is an accurate portrayal of how we'd likely perceive them.

Aliens are imaginary. Why not make them look alike?

So Ray, they all look alike to you? Used to be a complaint about foreigners, now considered.... vulgar.

BTW, If it weren't for your previous postings I wouldn't know which candidate you are referring to. The correct answer is both of them are vulgar.

But probably only one is epileptic.

The doctor who promotes that idea heads a fringe medical association which also explains how HIV and AIDS are not related, that climate change is a hoax, etc. Surprising. The name of the association sounds so legitimate and stuff.

6. why the progressive policies of today will likely lead to Sharia compliant social norms or victory by the far right.

6. The First Law of Majority-Minority Relations:

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/000933.html

#6: Why Taleb did not use as example the archetype of sugared water beverage? Coca Cola is kosher and the world is not ending. Not sure if he just ignored this fact or deliberate cherry picked an anonymous lemonade for the example because kosher Coke does not scare readers. https://www.chemheritage.org/distillations/magazine/the-real-thing-how-coke-became-kosher

I found the think interesting, a good observation, but I thought the part left out was that these things face limits. We didn't all go gluten free. We never all ate fat free. I am certainly not caffeine free.

Yes, there are limits. I don't eat organic (bio) in spite of rabid activists. Taleb pulls a number out of the blue, he says 10 times as much.

"If it cost ten times as much to make Kosher food, then the minority rule will not apply, except perhaps in some very rich neighborhoods."

Perhaps the lesson is: if there is a price to pay to comply with the rule, the minority rule does not apply. It would be interesting if it's 10, 2 or 1.5. By my anecdotal experience with organic food, it seems 1.5 times the price is enough to keep organic and normal food being sold as different products. The minority has not forced supermarkets to sell only organic food even is the price difference is much less than 10 times.

Quality is also (often) worse.

Sometimes true, and certainly I don't know the grocers in your town, but probably that's mostly being accustomed to perfectly shaped/coloured stuff, and you might have more mis-shapen or more strangely coloured produce that just looks funny but the quality is fine.

Or perhaps throwing dirt on organic produce boosts sales, by making it appear more "authentic"?

The backlash against anti-vaxers might be another example of how minority intolerance can fail.

Yeah, the price to pay for not being vaccinated is pretty steep.

Well, they're selling more and more of it , little by little. The non organic section of my supermarket is getting crowded out

Probably depends on the concentration of organic-only eaters in your local area. Also supermarkets can specialize in different markets. There's probably a high-end, a mid-range, and a discount super market within driving distance. The discount supermarket probably does not have a large organic section (if at all).

Noteworthy, the "international" supermarket that caters to immigrants where I live does not even have an organic section.

I also don't eat organic, but the tyranny of the minority doesn't really give me a choice. Go to any restaurant and see how everything is free range this or GMO free that. I would love the opportunity to choose a cheaper, non-organic meal, but irrational activists have taken that choice away.

i suggest eating somewhere with smaller margins--fast food perhaps?. The price of the ingredients at a fancy restaurant pales in comparison to what they charge.

You're talking about the elasticity of goods and it differs for different products based on availability of substitutes and how much consumers really "need" it.

"We didn’t all go gluten free."

i) it's not over yet!

2) I see [anecdote warning!] more and more gluten free crap every time I shop. (My friend the nutritionist says this drives her nuts. "90% of those who buy gluten free are signalling, maybe to themselves too, but signalling nonetheless.")

Also anecdotal, but there is a distinction between signaling gluten free and actually being gluten free. Having gone out to eat with a friend suffering from Celiac disease, I am acutely aware of the difference.

Yes. His whole "markets are irrelevent" claim at the end depends on this glossing over this. Prices matter, and manufacturers will only accomodate the Kosher market if the cost is small, the factor of 10 threshold is nonsense.

Markets place a limit on the power of the determined minority, based on the will to pay for their preferences. Whereas as politics, only produces an incentive for that minority to shift the cost onto others.

Not sure why most restaurants don't serve all-vegetarian menus, given that vegetarians and vegans make up 5% or so of the population and have an asymmetrical intolerance for meat...

Because most Vegetarians can order off of standard menus like anyone else.

Because it's very easy as a logistical matter to distinguish vegetarian and vegan items at the dish-level, and most restaurants will already have the necessary ingredients. As far as I know there are few if any vegetarians/vegans who would categorically refuse to eat at a restaurant that served meat to others, or who would refuse to eat vegan food if it had been prepared on cookware that had previously been used for meat.

The key issue is the logistical infrastructure behind the product. Kosher rules not only govern the ingredients, but the process by which they are prepared. An otherwise kosher food becomes non-kosher if it is prepared with cooking implements that have also been used to prepare food that is non-kosher. If a restaurant is non-kosher by default and wishes to serve kosher food, it must invest in a duplicative set of cookware which would only be used for the kosher dishes. Unsurprisingly this isn't terribly economical and most restaurants do not do this. They choose to be either all-kosher or all-not. Restaurants are bad examples for Taleb's rule, because they are almost all by definition serving market niches instead of a mass-markets. Because most market niches demand food that does not comply with kosher rules, most restaurants will focus on their niche and ignore the slice of the market that does demand kosher.

For a mass-market product like Coke on the other hand, it requires only minor modifications to the default process to make it kosher, which in no way reduces the appeal of the product to people who don't care about the distinction.

Taleb wants to make a general rule, but there isn't one. It's a case-by-case issue of market segmentation that has to involve an analysis of the specific cost structures in question. The important principle is that in the right circumstances (which are somewhat common), the phenomenon can occur, not that it must

OK, I agree, but I'm wondering how to map this onto the political realm, where they idea that "I get Coke, you get Pepsi" isn't so well accommodated.

I agree with some of this, but I will point out that the statement "...there are few if any vegetarians/vegans [...] who would refuse to eat vegan food if it had been prepared on cookware that had previously been used for meat" isn't entirely true. In my experience it largely depends upon whether there is incidental meat "cross-contamination" (not in the pathogenic sense) of the vegetarian/vegan dishes. For example, I know several vegetarians who won't eat at chain sandwich shops because most don't use different knives for sandwiches made with lunchmeat vs. sandwiches with only cheese/veggies/veggie proteins.

15 years ago 90% of restaurants didn't have anything vegetarian except for maybe fries or a salad, which is not a meal.

So, not a big deal. Once you have fries and a salad, don't complain, and almost certainly never go there again (unless you really like their fries and salad, I guess).

As more places start to introduce 1 or 2 vegetarian options, and a less hostile/questioning attitude towards not having meat with every meal, many discovered that a fair few non-vegetarians would also sometimes order meat-free options. Also, busting the myth that a full complement of proteins was strictly required every meal, or at least every day, which deters some from ever going a meal without meat (never mind that it's actually easy to balance...).

Thing is, most vegetarians are not at all militant in the way some people would claim. Exceedingly few would refuse to go to some restaurant for the fact of there being meat there, and are mostly concerned about at least satisfying themselves that something on offer will meet their meat-free standards for their own meal.

'Coca Cola is kosher'

Not precisely, at least according to my Northern Virginian memories of shopping at Giant. Much like Halal, the certification requires a governing body of religious figures to grant the designation. Which brings back those memories of Passover Classic Coke in the laster 1980s, which I used to buy because it used Coke's traditional white sugar formulation, and not fructose.

Proper kosher food always has a higher price, at least in practice, as generally, the right to proclaim food kosher is based on the proper authorities receiving their fees.

Or not, in an ever more secular America, as the case may be - 'A Conservative rabbi in Georgia is challenging the constitutionality of his state’s kosher law, saying it favors Orthodox religious standards and constitutes state entanglement in religion.

The case follows the overturning of similar kosher laws in two other states and the city of Baltimore. It also comes at a time of growing public interest in kashrut, following last year’s immigration raid at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, and the ongoing trials of the plant’s owners and managers.

On Aug. 7, Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court claiming that Georgia’s Kosher Food Labeling Act, passed in 1980, prevents him from fulfilling his duties as a rabbi.

In a complaint filed on Lewis’ behalf, the American Civil Liberties Union charges that Georgia’s kosher law, which defines “kosher food” as “food prepared under and of products sanctioned by the orthodox Hebrew religious rules and requirements,” ignores different kosher standards of other streams of Judaism.

The Georgia law imposes criminal sanctions for violations of the law, including presenting food as kosher if it has not been so determined by Orthodox authorities.

Thus, the lawsuit contends, the law as written violates the free exercise, establishment, equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. and Georgia constitutions.

The case is the fourth of its kind nationwide. Kosher laws that used similar Orthodox definitions of “kosher food” in New York in 1992 and New Jersey in 2003, as well as in Baltimore in 1993, were overturned.' http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/111912/conservative-rabbi-files-suit-challenging-georgia/

As is his wont, Taleb finds a rule and applies it to a wide variety of situations, some where it applies well, others where it does not, and mostly ignores counterexamples. Others have mentioned that the situation with food is much more complicated than he implies: maybe most commercial fruit beverages are kosher, but most restaurant meals are not.

As another example, the process whereby one religion predominates over another is certainly complicated and not well understood. Consider only:

1. The long-term result of Muslim conquest was to sharply reduce Christianity in Egypt, and to essentially eliminate it in the rest of north Africa.
2. Muslim conquest did not eliminate Christianity in Greece; it remained the majority religion there.
3. The effect of African slavery in America was to eliminate traditional African religion (mostly animism, but in some cases Islam) in the slave population.
4. The Anglo-Saxon conquest eliminated Christianity in England (obviously, it was reintroduced).
5. The Mongols (who were Buddhist, sort of) conquered the Muslim heartland. The result was that the Mongols became Muslims.

Ravi Batra was funnier than Taleb.

Who This guy?

https://www.amazon.com/GREAT-DEPRESSION-1990-Ravi-Batra/dp/0440201683

Yeah, hilarious.

In becoming Muslim as conquerors, it is supposed to have been purely as a matter of convenience to start with (perhaps like the Copts in Egypt), and the Mongol ruling class almost certainly was not particularly religion until it had been installed for at least some generations.

This would also be around the time that some other Muslim areas were starting to tighten up a lot on religious authority / fundamentalism, and I wonder if this could have been a counterweight of sorts against those and other influences.

Taleb on whether there is a payoff to asymmetric rules in favor of intolerance.

A business professor with a modest list of publications produces in 2008 a book laden with pseudo-profound jargon ("ludic fallacy") in which he plays Jeremiah. Not a blessed thing he predicts comes to pass. So why not write him off as an attention whore and forget about him?

Well, he's an engaging writer. Unlike, say, Paul Krugman, whose predictions are just as fallible but who is engaging only if you are a committed member of Team Blue. Taleb is more like Megan McArdle, who I think is usually wrong but enjoy reading, because of her engaging prose and the personality it displays.

What I like about Taleb is that so many people from across the political spectrum can't stand the guy, and vice-versa.

I was Taleb's defender back when Fooled By Randomness was alternately called wrong, or too obvious. It was IMO less argued truths. The Black Swan was mostly a re-capitulation for people who didn't see broader applications of the first book.

But now his behavior on Twitter has become too weird, and I defend him no longer.

http://www.businessinsider.com/nassim-taleb-lashes-out-on-twitter-2013-4

He's smart and thinks for himself. Breath of fresh air. Tyler's link above was very interesting whether you agree with his thesis or not. Distinct from the usual pap about economists staring out the window trying to improve productivity or something, or the latest list of grievances from Complaining Nation (left or right.)

He's smart, but his prose reads like he's trying very hard to prove it.

Put differently, what I most appreciate about Taleb is his ability to get under the skin of the bloviators in the chattering class, even where I don't find his brand of bullshit to be any more persuasive.

'Bloviators? The man's shtick is cognate to the motivational speaker racket.

He bears little resemblance to McArdle, who may be wrong on small questions. Taleb was yapping in 2008 that banks would have to be converted into depositories entirely invested in commercial paper betwixt and between telling the world that Nouriel Roubini was being too optomistic. He's a performer, not a scholar nor a translator of scholarship.

I haven't read enough from Taleb to form a strong opinion, but certainly that article made some good points.

Bernie Madoff, I once read, ate kosher in NYC, but when he went to London enjoyed his sausages. Assuming that the latter claim isn't a droll double entendre, what are we to make of that?

He who tires of London sausages, tires of life?

As mentioned above, most packaged food products from large companies are kosher. It's almost impossible to find them without the 'K' or 'U' symbols on them signifying that they are kosher certified. Additional examples of minority taboos being extended to the majority include the criminalization of disputing or debating the holocaust in Europe, and the general social sanction and opprobrium against noticing and criticizing Jews in public life in the US.

This minority privilege has served as the template for Muslims and other minorities, and the current dilemma for Jewish elites in the West is how to prevent them from usurping their position of minority privilege without revoking minority privilege altogether.

While Taleb is no doubt seeking to implicitly invoke the status treatment of certain minorities in the West, the moral opprobrium used to combat perceived bigotry doesn't fit the model he describes in the linked piece. "Minority privilege" isn't about the majority acquiescing to a stubborn minority because doing is essentially costless (essentially a market process that has seen kosher, halal, and vegetarian food become ubiquitous because it's cost effective); instead, "minority privilege" is an overreaction to self-perceptions of bigotry and prejudice, one which the European experience suggests is actually quite costly.

I have never read anything by Taleb before. This piece contained some mildly interesting ideas (and they are economics ideas, which makes it somewhat disingenuous of him to dismiss economics as "pompous entertainment"), but the language is horrible. Incomplete sentences and "sentences" that make no sense at all abound. Is all his writing like this?

I couldn't make head or tail of the first chapter of his famous book "The Black swan." But then that may reflect more on me......

From Goodreads:

Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent two decades as a trader before becoming a philosophical essayist and academic researcher in probability theory. Although he now spends most of his time either working in intense seclusion in his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés across the planet, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is "decision making under opacity", that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don't understand.

His works are grouped under the general title Incerto (latin for uncertainty), composed of a trilogy accessible in any order (Antifragile, The Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness) plus two addenda: a book of philosophical aphorisms (The Bed of Procrustes) and a freely available Technical Companion.

Having dropped the link above that he's become an angry tweep, I'll reverse again and say what value I think Taleb brought.

In a simplified ancient history the idea of rational agents forming rational markets was strong. Yes, I know the intermediate history where semi-rational agents conspired to make supposedly near-rational markets, but leave that for a moment. In those days there was connected to rationalism and markets, an idea of determinism, rational expectations, and rational outcomes. Luck was a very bad word.

Maybe just think about that. Luck was a bad word. It simply was off the table that top performing funds (hedges for the rich, mutuals for the rest of us) might be lucky. Every damn outlet from Barrons down to Newsweek listed top performers with the entire "story" being about their skill.

Maybe Taleb needed to be a bit of a dick to crash that party with Fooled by Randomness and say no, much (would he say most or all now?) of what people describe as skill could just be luck.

In my experience financial insiders had two common but contradictory responses (creating the first anti-Taleb wave). They said "wrong!" and they said "everyone knows that!" Both of those things could not be true at the same time, but for a time they were argued in parallel. Until Taleb won. Black Swan kind of crashed through that resistance. The big crash of the Great Recession helped his argument that prediction was a racket.

Taleb has gone on now to argue things about "anti-fragile systems" that should make our financial civilization more robust. Perhaps I'm not smart enough to comprehend those. I guess there is math. But in response to the old push-back, and his new agenda, he has become to say the least irascible. What happens next, I don't know.

"1. New Dobbie-Fryer results on charter schools and their impact."

Regarding this paper's underlying data, it would appear from Table 2 that the "Regular Charter" students are significantly better performing than the "Non-Charters" in almost every metric before any Charter school attendance.

In the section listing data sampling it specifies everything they corrected for and then they helpfully include an Estimation Sample column. You can clearly see a difference. It looks like, on average, the Charter schools take in lower performing students and the output is still lower performing.

Wouldn't this be exactly what everyone would logically expect? It doesn't look like this study indicates a failing on the part of Charter schools.

If they ran a cross sectional analysis, where they compared very similarly performing students before and after Charter school and restricted the sample to those that had attended Charter schools for a significant length of time (say a minimum of 4 years), the results might be enlightening. But I struggle to see much in the way of useful information from this study.

"the output is still lower performing" - Don't see that at all. True, even after the largely unexplained charter sample contortions they went through, "regular public schools" (whatever that is) and their sample of charters are apples and oranges. The only lower output level is in after graduation earnings which is easily explained by the higher rates of graduate school attendance by charter graduates as well as higher rates of military enlistment both of which are unadjusted for. Their matched cell methodology needs scrutinizing.

Study also doesn't mention that charters cost Texas 10% less per pupil. http://www.in-perspective.org/pages/finances

Shouldn't parental satisfaction be an important metric to consider when evaluating charter schools?

If the parents are happier and the kids are happier, even if test scores don't change, we should call that a win.

If charter schools are able to make stakeholders happier without spending more money (or indeed, spending LESS money), we should call that a huge win.

The same people who dislike charter schools also dislike all the standardized tests by which charter schools are evaluated.

It sounds like they want the public schools to stay exactly as they are but with less accountability and more funding. Hmm, I wonder who that would benefit...

Because making kids and their parents happy is the standard by which schools should operate...

That's how it often works in the private sector in education.

Would parents really be happier with a school that put their children in a more dangerous classroom where the teachers were less engaged and the students learned less?

I think we can trust parents a little bit here.

People seem quite satisfied with the idea of a public magnet school that attracts star pupils for special, accelerated curriculum. Why not expand this concept a little?

We don't need to and should not try to shut down all the public schools, just increase the number of choices. On the margins, it is doing more good than harm.

The city I went to high school in, there's lots of stuff like this. They try to double up special programs, for example the French immersion student is generally not likely to take specialized trades courses.

So one school specializes in music and language, a few have specialized courses related to some household trades, some others more so in automotive. Most schools have at least an intro or basic course in most of these, but then there's one or two where you can specialize even in a trade for grade 11 and 12 - but you might have to switch schools. Which also then lets them choose the more specialized courses in trade school (college).

"The same people who dislike charter schools also dislike all the standardized tests by which charter schools are evaluated."

+1

I don't have any particular opinion about charter schools in general - they seem to work well but maybe it's just selection issues, and no harm seems to be done with a potential for good.

But I think it is not surprising that if you teach to a test that you will get higher scores for the test (but not necessarily a better education or understanding of the material) and that one set of organizations testing to a certain criteria would achieve better results according to that criteria relative to organizations which were using other means of assessment.

Folks, Taleb's best book so far is "Anti-fragile." All the Taleb noobs should read this book if they found the linked essay interesting.

Re Taleb, no6:

I recently read Black swan and Anti fragile, and want to point out that despite Taleb's self importance, he emphasized the skin in the game concept, and my understanding is that he made at least several tens of millions for himself betting against the housing GSEs, which puts him way ahead of Megan McArdle and the majority of economists. His stated reasoning for betting against Freddie and Fannie was that the ridicule he received for declaring them fragile was not accompanied with good arguments.

5. Someone needs to read chapter 1 of Self on Audio.

#5 Re: Japanese audio cables threaded with gold and silver

I know he listened from vinyl record. But for the digital audiophile there is this

http://arstechnica.com/staff/2015/02/to-the-audiophile-this-10000-ethernet-cable-apparently-makes-sense/

AudioQuest Diamond RJ/E Ethernet cable, which at 12 meters will set you back a cool $10,000. Made from pure silver, with industrial-style RJ-45 connectors, the cables’ product page is packed with the usual pseudo-scientific garbage about how the cable will keep your audio signal completely free of electromagnetic interference and Martians—but the insanity with this particular cable goes a level deeper.

"All audio cables are directional," says the product page. "Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music. For example, NAS to Router, Router to Network Player."

Let’s stop and think about this for a moment. Remember that we’re talking about an Ethernet cable here—not speaker wire. This cable is specifically meant by the manufacturer to be used to connect a NAS to an Ethernet switch, and then presumably you’d use a second Diamond cable to connect the switch to your computer. So these guys are actually claiming that the direction of the cable has some meaningful impact on how your NAS-hosted music sounds

Audio Note SOGON: http://audiofederation.com/blog/2008/02/05/shootout-audio-note-interconnects-sogon-versus-sootto-versis-pallas

Skeptic magazine on audio cables:

http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/10-01-06/

Ha, ha, you've never heard them, have you?

I was responding to fix.ie, but I did glance at your link, couId not tell if it was parody.

Dux, stupid spell check

A weird story of school improvement:

http://www.scarymommy.com/whirlpool-care-counts-improves-attendance-in-schools/

#6. Well Taleb is wrong about GMOs. It may work for restaurants because the restaurant cannot afford to put both GMO and non-GMO options on the menu at different prices. But a grocery store can absolutely stock a slightly higher priced non-GMO or Organic product next to the conventional one and let customers decide which one to buy. This has obviously been the case for years. Organic produce sections are not expanding to push out conventional produce. The price differential of the raw ingredients is clearly significant enough to cause enough consumers to choose the lower-priced conventional option.

Well he actually does state that it will work as long as the price differential isn't significant.

"You just select everything non-GMO, provided the price difference is not consequential. And the price difference appears to be small enough to be negligible as (perishable) food costs in America are largely, about up to eighty or ninety percent, determined by distribution and storage, not the cost at the agricultural level. And as organic food (and designations such as “natural”) is in higher demand, from the minority rule, distribution costs decrease and the minority rule ends up accelerating in its effect."

However, I agree with you Hazel that his observation that: "the price difference appears to be small enough to be negligible " is obviously wrong.

In the areas he directly observes, the average shopper might consider the cost differential trivial, but it's certainly not trivial to half of the country.

About a year ago, the Goya canned beans that are a staple at our house began to sport a small but prominent NON GMO shield. The price was unchanged then but recently went up almost 50%. Next time I will be looking at other brands--and I will happily take GMO beans if they are even a penny cheaper.

#2. Well if colleges are just so darn beneficial, then they really don't need 501(c)(3) exemptions, do they? They will be supported anyway without the tax exemptions. The really great thing about Hillary's soak-the-rich tax increase plan is that it will provide an opportunity to repeal 501(c)(3) entirely and force all these tax expenditure-funded university and think tank hustlers to get real jobs.

#5 - Someone should tell audiophiles about going totally off-grid with Direct Current power supplies. With batteries made from ultra-pure lead alloy and ultra-distilled electrolytes, thermally stabilized in vacuum Dewars. Shipped pre-charged with natural solar power from the Atacama Desert in Peru, unadulterated by low-altitude air pollution.

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