Friday assorted links


'And is Norway taking too much from its sovereign wealth fund?'

No, at least according to the article.

But they will, pt2, they will.

Norway takes out 3 percent, is allowed to take out 4 percent. CALPERs (california pension) assumes they can make 7.5 percent long term.

Why the steely Dan hate? What's sad is that they play so much foreigner and pat benatar. Too much Steely Dan cannot be sad.

Another thing that's sad is that they still don't have a Bob Dylan channel after all these years but give one to Tom Petty.

There is a website (Dogstar?) that lists every song played on every satellite channel as it is played. I compared XM playlists before and after the Sirius merger. I downloaded the lists and just used Excel to see how quickly a song was replayed after it was played.

Bottom line, the playlists after the takeover were quite short (like 1500 songs or so).

That's why they "play Steeley Dan too much on satellite".

With that said, they have 25 million subscribers or something like that, and are profitable. They must know what they're doing. SOMEBODY must be saying, "I want MORE Steeley Dan".

"SOMEBODY must be saying, “I want MORE Steeley Dan”."

That would be my wife.

best joke of the day! LOL

"Well I should know by now That it's just a spasm
Like a Sunday in T.J. That it's cheap but it's not free
That I'm not what I used to be And that love's not a game for three"

Just recently, I found that truer words were never spoken. It"s all there in SD, like the Tao De Ching, gaucho amigo.

#3 - The line for the new iPhone 7 (made of mostly millennials) at my local mall was one of the longest lines I've seen since the day all the baby boomers in my city learned an Olive Garden was opening up.

Millennials preferences are clearly different. I doubt they care about being tied down with "stuff". There is something appealing about being more flexible and mobile. Marriage is delayed. Family is delayed. Housing and other large purchases would inevitably follow this pattern.

#3 -
"We have to accept on faith that someone spending all day on the computer is happier than someone golfing or boating. Revealed preference suggests they are happier, but of course if you truly accept that criterion then you also must apply it to heroin use."

I got nothing to add to that passage, other than the standard complaints about the word 'happy'.

One trivially obvious route would be to look at whether heroin users have extremely high self-reported happiness in surveys, right? I wonder would it prove Sumner right or terribly wrong? Is it healthy that these guys all buy into each other's theories for three months, then go away and start a new one?

I would add the phrase "at that moment." Which I think is a critical addition.

#3: This is something that I wish was discussed more because I think it's interesting.

My casual opinion on this is that it's partly driven by technology as discussed ("Thanks to capitalism, all this stuff now fits in your pocket!" etc.), but also just that what's fashionable depends a lot on what was not very accessible until recently. In an earlier era, especially in the decades right after WW2, "stuff" had become accessible for the first time to lots of people, and so it was desired for a while. Nowadays, casual jet-setting to far-flung corners of the world are a relatively recent phenomenon for much of the population, as is the preponderance of very exotic restaurants in major cities. Not surprisingly these become fashionable and even status symbols. An older generation of Americans will look at you like you have two heads if you tell them you're flying to Cambodia or some such place for no particular reason.

Art Deco is on record declaring that all travel for pleasure is worthless.

But your point is a good one, status is always about scarcity, and what is scarce changes over time. It's not better or worse it's just the current situation.

There are some typing errors in there, please ignore them.

Some months ago I commented that owning a car was once a symbol of prosperity. Now, not owning a car is a symbol of prosperity.

If market indicators suggest that you will in all likelihood change your job every four years, then why on earth would you choose to saddle yourself with home ownership (and all the "things" which go inside of it)? Positioning oneself for mobility seems a smarter investment, especially when I see some rather unimpressive homes selling for half a million dollars. I could have a field day at REI for the price of one leather sofa, and own some top shelf gear in the process.

/goin' mobile....keep me movin!!!

Definitely not trying to rule out multiple explanations. In fact that describes my living situation to a T (tee? Lowercase t?). I'm a Millennial. I really don't know where I'll be in a few years or who I might meet, so I'm very reluctant to buy unless the buy vs rent math is really compelling. My dad was always really into cars and I grew up with car magazines in the house. And yet it really didn't pass to me. Aside from rent, my big expenses are bars, restaurants, traveling, and Oxford commas, not cars and stereo systems and the like.


"Driving, hunting, and consumption are down and digging in the dirt with a stick is up. What an interesting shift away from materialistic preferences--it must be something to do with an increased preference for mobility, or maybe a desire for dense urban living. Clearly we must be measuring real GDP wrong."

Cars are something like twice as expensive inflation-adjusted as they were in 1972. They're better now, but only along axes nobody but a handful of Poindexters gives a damn about. "The working class guy of 1972 could take a girl for a ride a lot easier than the working class guy of 2010", and things have not improved since 2010.

Or another example: my dad grew up shooting squirrels and riding dirt bikes in a San Diego suburb, with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who ran a halfway house and led convict fire crews. Now there's nowhere within fifty miles of his childhood address where you can do either of those things legally, and a single-earner household of comparable SES couldn't afford that kind of stuff for their kids, certainly not their kids and theirselves (no more cheap two-stroke dirt bikes, firearms much more expensive, no more lead hunting ammunition in CA,...), certainly not in San Diego County. (And his public high school had full wood, metal, and auto shops, a greenhouse, Latin, Greek, German, ....). It doesn't take too much squinting to see a massive fall in living standards for Americans.

(xpost from econlog)

If you assume the value placed on human life has increased dramatically (a fair assumption as that's what happens the wealthier a nation gets) the increased prices in the goods you list make sense. More expensive guns, cars and dirt bikes are largely due too increased safety features and background checks that ensure they don't fall into the wrong hands or explode and kill innocent victims. While you may not value safety that highly, most of society does, and to them the status quo is not a massive fall in living standards. (though I wouldn't argue its been a massive gain in living standards either)

For what it's worth, the author's parents seem to have been located in a booming real estate market. While they would not have been able to continue to shoot squirrels in current San Diego suburbs in 2015, they certainly could have sold their property for a massive return and moved to somewhere with plentiful squirrels and fewer people.

While you may not value safety that highly, most of society does, and to them the status quo is not a massive fall in living standards. (though I wouldn’t argue its been a massive gain in living standards either)

I'm not sure how applicable this is to the main point--for non-hooning examples, household appliances have gotten worse, the Concorde stopped flying, it's harder to own a house in a place with nice weather and good jobs--but it's a very important observation. I wonder what it would look like if more people chose to keep risk levels the same as they got wealthier, rather than investing in reduced risk.

The price of small, cheap cars does not seem to have doubled since 1972.

Although there's surely a tradeoff, as today's small cars are smaller than those of 1972, although they surely are more reliable and durable.

Ford Pinto 1972 $2161. $12,851.
Chev Vega 1972 $2283. ($13,577.)
Plymouth Duster $2498. ($14,856.)

Ford Fiesta S: 2016 $13,995.
Chev Spark 2016 $13,000.

Nissan Versa S Sedan: 2016 $12,780.
Kia Soul 2016 $15,175.

today’s small cars are smaller than those of 1972

And substantially less powerful, e.g., but your point is well taken--econoboxes have progressed, more or less, and this is good.

Nothing powerful about those 1970s junkers. The Ford Pinto ran 75-100 hp; the Ford Fiesta runs 120-200.

Also you can buy in the second hand car market very powerful luxury cars that are vastly better than the junk that was around in the 1970's for probably the same nominal dollars.

I think for the Psmith life really is worse, because his parents were very well positioned in society when he was growing up. But this is a status thing, almost uniquely status is zero sum, so although the author is not at the same level of status, other people are and so it is hard to think that this is a long term problem.

his parents were very well positioned in society when he was growing up

But my point is that this isn't really true. Or, to the extent it was true, it was true because my dad had the good fortune to be born to an ordinary Californian family in the fifties. My paternal grandfather, as I said above, ran a halfway house and led convict firefighting crews in the brushfire season--I believe he got an associates' degree at some point, but not until he had held that job for several years. My dad has a postgraduate degree and makes more than his father did, going by the CPI, and he hasn't had to swing a Pulaski for a living in thirty-some years. I'm on track to get even more postgraduate education than he did and end up with a comparably cushy and well-paid white-collar job. But with all that money and all that status, I can't--not "won't, because I'm less materialistic and don't care for those icky old things", but can't--raise two kids in a single-family house with a stay-at-home wife, San Diego weather and 60s San Diego public education, dirt bikes, guns, a garage full of tools, .... And that's why I think the article is asking a fundamentally misguided question. Your mileage may vary.

Steely Dan does have a very "processed" sound. It's the opposite of punk rock, it is audio perfection.

I too listened to my old man's Steely Dan records in the '70s as a lad.

+1 to The Engineer. Steely Dan invested immense efforts into making their songs sound great on FM radio. Result: Steely Dan songs sound great on FM radio. If a Steely Dan song and some other song sound equally good on an LP, the SD song will sound better on the radio.

I personally love SD on disks too but they have a unique delta from disk to radio.

Wow, Steely Dan is so terrible. I have never been glad one of their songs came on the radio. Nearly always turn the station unless I am making a complicated traffic maneuver.

#5 I really appreciate the link, but I do not appreciate the Dan hate, as they are the greatest band America has ever produced

Those bands are silly and terrible, but they tower over the ear-destroying sounds of Jobim or Gilberto.

1) No, they aren't. They mark the pinnacle of 20th Century American music.
2) No, they don't. Tom Jobim and Gilberto Gil (not to mention Beto Guedes, Caetano Veloso, Zé Ramalho and Belchior) are better than any American singer or songwriter. Brazilian music is widely considered the best music there is. Not only the pop music (there were at least four Brazilian bands better than the Beatles and the Rolling Stones ever were), but specially the anthems and marchs. I still remember from my school days the Independence Day parades and the anthems during the daily Flag Hoisting Ceremony. I probably spent more time marching or singing or saluting the Flag under a merciless Brazilian Summer sun at school than adding or multiplying. And every second was joyous. Nothing was or ever will be equal that.

I'm sorry to have to inform you that outside of Brazil, Brazilian music is considered the worst music ever made by the human species. This is an obvious fact, which of course they don't teach in Brazil. And let's be honest, "Benjy's Boat to Brazil" is better than anything that hack Jobim ever vomited out from his 'talent'.

It is a lie. Brazilian music is considered bold and harmonious, powerful, versatile.
It is not uncommon to touriats come visit Brazil for our music. In fact, I live in a college town, full of foreign exchange students. Few of the ones I meet fail to enthusiastically mention Brazilian music and Brazilian food as the things that impressed them the most about Brazil. As an old Brazilian song had it, "Again, Europe bows before Brazil." People envy us.
Brazilian women, Brazilian loyalty,
Brazilian food and Brazilian song
Shall retain in the world
Their old beautiful chime
And inspire us to noble deeds
During all of our life.
Brazilian women, Brazilian loyalty,
Brazilian food and Brazilian song

Those kids are just being polite to you. If they like any Brazilian music it's the stuff derived from American prog rock like Os Mutantes. Most Brazilian music is played at very high volume to torture prisoners at Guantanamo.

This is ridiculous. Anglo music is just noise sang by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Brazilian groups such as Os Mutantes, 14-Bis (in homenage to the first airplane, invented by a Brazilian), MPB 4, Legião Urbana and other are bigger than the Beatles and the Rolling Stones put together. Trotsky famously wrote that writing romances is a French art. Music is a Brazilian art, is the Brazilian art. Brazilians are musicians par excellence.To those kids, discovering Brazilian music is a revelation. They once were lost, but now are found, were blind, but now they see. From time immemorial times, Brazilians have borne a harp in one hand and the sword in the oner hand.

Pt. 4: 94 pages it takes the author to make his point. Who would read that? Some people think we should try to attract smarter and more focused people to medicine than those who who work for the electric company.

On 1, was there ever a more nerdy culture than Singapore? What a fantastic thing, that we have such places in the world. The guy makes doing fire fighting training like climbing Mt Everest for the first time.

Oh, we're not just nerds. We're nerds with military training.

I found NS to be a maturing experience too. Guys who have served NS diligently usually have no problems fitting into society and working well in teams. Get the job done, leave the ego and the politics aside. Our womenfolk could do with some heavy doses of such no-nonsense treatment.

#3 and its fellow travelers about millennials is an example of extrapolating a trend line to infinity.

Millennials have some particular features now but they are also as a cohort in their footloose and fancy free 20s and maybe young 30s. They value access to young adult stuff, no-kids stuff. Just like I did as a young gen x at the same age levels.

Soon they will have kids and realize that life in a granite-and-stainless third floor walk up in wrigleyville isn't optimal for a family. They will realize that to get into a good school district you need to buy a single family detached home in the suburbs for a lot of money. That having a back yard for the kids to play in is also a place where you can tell them "leave me alone while I mow the lawn | weed the garden | wax the car" and get a moments peace.

That having 100 bars and restaurants within a 15 minute Uber ride doesn't mean much when your daily goal is to get the kids asleep by nine so you can watch home improvement shows while surfing eBay for classic british motorcycle swag.

Context matters.

Singapore and Hong Kong have reached an equilibrium at a level of high social trust. Shenzhen is at the opposite equilibrium.

Yes Hong Kongers like to talk about real estate corruption and triads but that is mostly idle chat. They trust the legal system, queue up tidily and don't cross until green.

Unrelated, the following article is the most factually dense one that I've ever read in a major newspaper. Sports, special interests, immigration, birth rates and nimbyism in a few hundred words.

4. If you want to destroy it.

#4. Fine. Why not regulate the legal profession as a public utility ... In any case, I did not know the occupational licensing did not occur in the medicine until the 1890s

Sorry about the typos

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