Thursday assorted links


#5 "life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”


5 is a little bit amusing. Funny to see people play games of anthropomorphism and culture. As in Æsop's fable.

But it is all built on a loose foundation. See also Lisa Feldman Barrett.

Is it controversial to make the case that I'd rather live as a slave than die as a "free man" (whatever that might mean)? Certainly before the modern era a free man would have to provide for himself, while a slave is fed. I'd rather be a rich man with slaves of my own than to be a slave, but if that's not an option, I'd rather be the slave of a rich man than starving to death with no man as my master.

Maybe an American thinks so, but a Brazilian would rather die than serve. A Brazilian is a soaring soul, as free as a mountain bird, his energetic fist should be ready to resist a dictatorial word. This is why twelve Brazilians soldiers fought to death rather than surrender to hundreds and hundreds of Paraguayan invaders. Brazil fought for six years one of the bloodiest wars in Man's History to thrown off the Paraguayan Yoke, a war against monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. At that war, our forefathers, laid upon the altar the dearest and the best. Their love for freedom never faltered, their love that paid the price, their love made undaunted the final sacrifice. Brazilian mothers said they would rather never see their sons again than have them back at the price of accepting anything but unconditional surrender and the removal of the threat to Brazilian freedom.

Ha ha, no. Brazil is awful. What does Thomas Taylor think?

As the Brasilian poet :-) John Milton wrote

Here at least
we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
to reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.

In fact, he was not Brazilian, except in spirit. Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." (I am a Roman citizen). Today, in the world of civilization, the proudest boast is "Eu sou brasileiro" (I am Brazilian). All free men, wherever they may live, are Brazilian.

Por favor, peço-lhe, pare de dizer essa bobagem!

I do not think Pshrnk can read Portuguese. And it is no "bobagem", he quoted Milton, a famous English poet.

Estou obviamente falando com você, Thiago. Pare de nos embaraçar!

Meu único jeito de embaraçá-lo é, por contraste, mostrando o covarde lambe-botas que você é!!

Thinking about this lately, I was reading an article about whether or not we're all living in a simulation. If we are, one's priorities about what to get out of life change radically. if we're all immortal beings whose form of entertainment is to plug ourselves into a giant sim in which we have no memories (because how else are you going to experience anything new if you're immortal), but get to live out entire lives over and over anew, then the point of life isn't necessarily to live as long as possible and to propagate one's genes, but merely to experience the joy of existence, in all it's varied forms, both tragic and sublime.
At that point, the challenge of avoiding starvation seems so much more interesting than living a comfortable life as a slave. Although I guess both could be interesting in different ways.
And even if we're not in a sim, and it's all meaningless in the end, why not try for a challenge ?

Live free or die. Come and take it. There is no other way.

Spoken like a true Brazilian!!

3b. The CBO also had some interesting news on the Obama care death spiral.

So maybe the most likely outcome is also the least bad option.

LOL a vox link!

I know. Vox linked to my first wife once, and of course I had to divorce her.

Straight to the CBO:

Under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the nongroup market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference. The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures for the market to be stable.

Still, can we trust anyone Vox knows about?

6. Do you get non complacency points for identifying as a gender other than male or female?

Do you get points if you feel someone choosing a new gender 1000 miles away is a threat to your identity?

Do you get points if you shrug off the fact that 4 men just followed your daughter into the public bathroom?

Do you get points if you realize that never happens?

I feel like the answer is yes to all of these.

Along the lines of: prizes for all of the schoolchildren, points for everyone!

msgkings, so what's all the fuss about?

That is a great example of converting something benign (someone else's gender identity) to a threat (4 rapists) through a process of paranoia.

Perhaps paranoia really is an organizing principle for our times. It is certainly used in these pages, with walls of threat like "SJWs, Black Lives Matter, Gamergate, blatant media bias, feminism and the denigration of Men’s Rights”

Paranoia as identity, even to the White House:

"something benign (someone else’s gender identity)"

Its not benign. Its the normalization of believing a delusion can actually be real.

There are men, there are women, there is no other gender.

If your daughter wants to get gangbanged by 4 men in a bathroom stall, that's her choice. Points to you for allowing her to make her own decisions.

I think you ought to lose points for caring much about this one way or the other. A tiny percent of a percent of a percent of the population, strange though they may be, using this one bathroom instead of this other bathroom in a rational world ought to draw a big "who gives a good ____?"

+1. Before this current, almost totally chat room driven brouhaha about bathrooms, trans people quietly went into whatever bathroom and went into a stall and peed and then washed their hands and left hundreds of times a day and no one got raped.

msgkings, that comment is exactly the kind of false "moderation" that you specialize in. On the surface, it's "moderate" but if you think about it for more than three seconds, it's total trite, Leftist talking points repeated. Most of these transgenders aren't fooling anyone, people can see that they are men in women's clothing. Long before anyone had heard of "transgenders," it was common knowledge that if you went into a woman's bathroom as a man, you'd get your ass kicked.

As for the "thousands of miles away" line, what if it isn't thousands of miles away? What if it is someone in YOUR family? You aren't really OK with it, you just stay silent because it allows you to feel virtuous and 'elite,' and it PROBABLY won't happen to you. But why take the chance? You aren't getting anything out of it. There's always more room in the basket of deplorables, come over!

Long before anyone had heard of “transgenders,” it was common knowledge that if you went into a woman’s bathroom as a man, you’d get your ass kicked.

By who? The women in the bathroom? I think they're probably more likely to get their ass kicked in the men's bathroom.

I don't see what's "leftist" about saying there's no problem here, and there wasn't one before we all started typing about it ad nauseam. Before this trans people would just go to the freaking bathroom, dressed as whatever, and no one even noticed and the ones that did would just shrug and say "oh look some trans dude just came out of the stall next to me". No raping.

Even your boy Trump said when asked about this: "Transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they want". Now that was back in 2016, but that's pretty much my take and the take of any normal person.

By the way, many (most?) college dorms have unisex bathrooms and even showers. There are individual stalls, no one is watching you pee.

If you've gone to all the trouble to choose your gender, dammit, society owes you a bathroom that corresponds to your identity. Anything less would not be justice.

Gerber, there is nothing "left wing" about not caring who pees where.

By contrast, in your way of portraying the issue, it would seem that the right wing has rather much of an obsession with who pees when and where.

Would it be better for the right wing to be considered as the ones who want to rule over people's bathroom habits?

"there wasn’t one before we all started typing about it ad nauseam"

Who started talking about "transgender" all the time?

It was the left, opening a new front in the culture wars. When the right reacted, suddenly they were the obsessed ones.

Stop trying to rub the rights face in it and you might get toleration back.

I think you should lose points if "why should anyone care about it" is your answer every single time it's brought up. It shows a certain intellectual cowardice. Either address the issue or shut up, because nobody cares if you "dont care."

The lie is that the right started this. In fact, it was the left that started it with a municipal ordinance making gendered bathrooms in private and public buildings ILLEGAL.

Milo Fan sure cares that I don't care.

P.S. - I don't care where you pee either. Prefereably into a toilet or urinal.

Do you get Virtue points for being Accepting toward your wife's son prancing around in a dress?

Considering that the main other option would be to tell him to get out of your life, I would think that the approach that includes not ejecting your son from your life would be worthy of more points than the approach that involves ejecting your son from your life.

However, I think it woudl be quite reasonable to express a preference to please not show up in drag. And not to be the ass who can't handle it if they show up in drag anyways. (I think this basically never happens, but surely there are some rare anecdotes...)

Pushing buttons to instigate problems or to intentionally offend, for example, do not belong to the class of responses I would consider as "handling it well", for example.

Personal acceptance is honorable. Enacting laws demanding Catholic priests observe gay weddings, christian bakers serve cake at pride parades, and local restaurants cant gender bathrooms is what the left is fighting for, despite your apparent ignorance of it. Interestingly, if we import 100 million or so middle easterners, the liberals will be thrown off buildings, so maybe it's a wash?

Try to keep in sight of the fact that 1% is not 100%.

3. Okay, so subsidizing health insurance for those who can't afford it is a form of, what, weeping? Or is it an alternative to weeping? Or is it a from of religious signaling with someone else paying the cost? And Jesus said unto Paul of Ryan: Complacency: someone in good health working in a job with generous health insurance benefits. Reality: someone diagnosed with a chronic disease and loses her job with generous health insurance benefits. Don't Cry for Me Argentina

The more generous reading is that Tyler sees the Republicans choosing the most bad option, and weeps.

Trump to Tucker Carlson: “I know” counties that voted for me will lose under the Republican health plan

When you rob Peter to pay Paul you can depend on Paul's vote. However when you stop robbing Peter Paul "loses". So what!

Trump's health plan and his new budget proposal both ask the working poor (Hillbilly Elegy folk) to throw themselves under the bus for the greater good. It will be interesting.

No more Meals on Wheels, people.

The billion dollars cut from leftist propaganda at NPR, NEA, EPA are pretty sweet though.

That is a separate issue, but it too is a gamble for future elections. Republicans have the power to remove lots of things which have majority support among voters. Should they?

Another interesting gamble.

4. Sellers compete on the basis of price. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Cowen's prior blog post today taught us that's nonsense. Cowen has written a book, The Complacent Class, whose message is that people don't behave in ways that are in their best interest. What's the point of Econ 101? To pass the time?

I don't think you really got the message of that book, even though it is quite simple and clearly explained.

RE "Dump the Coase Theorem": predictable stupidity from Eric Posner. He inherited his father's name, but very little of his intelligence.

The estate tax on his genetic inheritance was too high?

2 is very interesting, but doesn't seem completely new, apart from the set of examples studied. Pinker in his book "words and rules" (discussed in his recent interview with Tyler) describes the fundamental work of Chomsky and Halle "The Sound Pattern of English" and arrives at the surprising conclusion that English spelling as its stand is almost optimal in the sense it mimics almost perfectly perhaps the way we actually pronounce words, but the deeper internal rules we (I mean, you folks -- I am not a native Englis speaker) unconsciously apply when our mind prepares itself for uttering a word or phrase. The apparently erratic writing system evolved this way to make life easier for writer. And also it has been long argued by e.g. French linguists that the only effect of the French Academy supervising spelling was to introduce a lot of irrationality in the system.

What you just said would seem absurd to a Spanish speaker or mandarin speaker.

But compared to French, this is very true. French has way too many unnecessary words that are not pronounced, and English much fewer compared to French.

Is it ethical to buy a book by someone as disgraceful as Bruno Frey? I guess so. I wouldn't contribute to one of his volumes, but since he didn't write the chapters, their dependability doesn't depend on him. The book is a good idea, though I'd prefer to have more "name" authors, since most people who reject big ideas in economics have no idea what they're talking about. Eric Posner is probably wrong in what he says about the Coase Theorem, but he's smart enough that I want to hear what he has to say.

Professor Cowen, what economic ideas would be on *your* list to reject? Include only ideas that currently would yield top-journal publications, please ("Peak Oil", for example, was never respectable in economics, as opposed to chemical engineering, was it?)

Just the self-plagiarism? That seems a small flaw. He was choosing not to be a slave!

I never met an economist would rejected the idea that oil production will reach a peak and decline from there.

The disagreement is about a) whether this will be soon and b) whether the main cause of the reduction will be having no more oil (at ecnomic production prices) or technological innovation in renewables.

5 - What he is really arguing is that wild animals have worse *deaths* than farm animals.

Btw, this remember me of some opinions about bullfighting; many defenders of the bullfighting argue that bulls used in bullfights have a better life than regular bulls - yes, they suffer more in the last hour, but have much more freedom and space during the rest of their life.

Maybe.... A week without eating, or a winter with minimal calories, living a few years with parasites or afflictions, or watching your offspring get devoured... All things that are normal in the wild.

Of course Wild animals have worse lives than farmed animals. But neither of them know it or have any understand of future or the inevitability of death so I'm not sure it matters.

Every single backcountry/outdoor sportsman​ was long aware of 5. Not being aware of this is a sign of being spoiled by civilization.

I recently watched a lecture on colonial America where the lecturer was mocking early Americans for thier fear of "the wilderness". I think these are from the same vein, being so sheltered by modernity that a person has lost all bonds with the cruelty that is mother nature.

I was recently wondering why there are so few representations of wilderness, natural views, vistas, landscapes etc, in native NA art. (As opposed to the American Sublime in art.) Plenty of animals though. Animals could be totemic; the wilderness was just big and scary except for the little parts of it you or your tribe knew.

More interest in stuff that does stuff (animals) than in stuff that just sits there (e.g., rocks / views)?

It makes more sense to attribute spiritual relevance to an animal than a rock or a mountain, for example.

And yet, Mt Olympus, Mt Fuji, etc etc....

Thought this might fit with the assorted links of the day:
"Angelina Jolie is set to teach a master's course at the prestigious London School of Economics this fall as a visiting professor." (

5) If the value of freedom is calculated at zero, then maybe.

But can we not refer to revealed preferences? How many wild animals would, when brought to a farm, not demonstrate their preference to not be locked up?

Also, the fact that there is suffering in the wild does not mean that suffering would be reduce by eliminating all wild populations. And anyways, it's an entirely dfensible position to say that a) you want less suffering involved in meat production, but also b) you want to ensure that wild populations can continue to exist.

How can this be consistent? There is more than one variable. Yes, reduced suffering is better. But this does not mean that all proposals which reduce suffering should therefore be considered on this exclusive basis.

Many animals reveal their preferences all the time re: humans: they live in our yards/pastures (deer, squirrels) and eat our stuff including garbage (skunks, raccoons, rats, mice) and our pets (coyotes). Not necessarily complaining, just saying.

I guess like most other living things, they want a free lunch. "No being penned up for me, but I want your fruit trees/chickens."


Here's an economic idea you can reject. That you can sell a book on Amazon without even showing the table of contents, forget about a preview of any on the content. But I guess they really believe consumers are not even partly rational.

The " latest", "cutting edge" empirical research can "reject" even the "idea" of the Coase Theorem? Give me a break.

#4 - This book is a tease, I hope to find it free online someday, but it looks good, along the lines of the provocative series "This Idea Should Die" (with guest chapters written by leading experts in physics, philosophy, etc).

That was the edge question in 2014

#4 Whats the problem with CAPM

Some discussion here:

As an American on the original test, was rated 'complacent' despite living in Asia for the past several years. Boo.

4. How is "Bayesianism" an economic idea? What do they mean? How can it possibly be "experimentally refuted"? To me it is a simple theorem of probability and a philosophical interpretation of probability theory and statistics. I am really curious to see what the authors mean.

Convenient that only free range, pasture raised animals were looked at in the wild vs. farmed study.

Most animals are factory farmed. A silly paper from a guy well known for trolling vegetarians.

4- seems a low quality book. The papers are just short ramblings of random authors about thing they don't fully understand. There are a couple of famous economists to lend some credibility, but their pieces are horrible too, like Acemoglu's one which is just a very long "institutions matter" piece.

Do you by any chance get marked as complacent by virtue of being a student who isn't allowed to work and enjoy a wage at all, even though you happen to be a student at a college about 8000 miles from where you were born and everyone you know?

Wow at #5. Really had to salt that one over for a while. Definitely file this conundrum one under "it's not black or white".

I think we'll go ahead and write about this:

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