Wednesday assorted links


#4 - Wow, who saw that coming? /sarc

Paging Nassim Taleb.

All sorts of things that are natural in the environment cause lots of unintended mutations.
Getting from single cell to complex organism that can reproduce and outcompete other varieties tends to act as a filtering process against those sorts of mutations actually ever being a problem.

It's not a surprise for anyone actually working with CRISPR. Unintended mutations from it is the main reason while other gene editing methods still exist.

It's not a real result

Dear Martin Amis, be sure to put some Ganga Jal in my mouth, 38, don't forget to be late, a great mistake, a happened stance, a wayward glare at such at elementary particle; a yellow dog in time's narrow; we can not consecrate this ground. We cannot forget his hollow. We cannot forget his mustard elecentricity mustard-coffee stains on his tie that refuse to be erased no matter how the howls distaste us. 5-5 does = zero.

The rain must pour in or else purim will be forgotten and why was I the mad hatter is the first place?

3. Journalism is so funny (and pointless), the way the writer leads off with a person anecdote entirely at odds with the actual data in the story.

But her career hit a series of roadblocks that have picked off countless women on their way up the ladder: a manager who had championed her quit and left her rudderless; she was passed over for promotions and was, she felt, unfairly penalized in performance evaluations.

Because that never happens to men.

The article takes out a paragraph to point out that there is a much bigger issue with men leaving the labor force before carrying on with troubles that especially plague women, because no one ever writes about that.

women are the innocent victims of a brutal male-dominated society, and thus deserve primary focus.
did you not receive Hillary's memo?

There are lots of articles about men losing jobs. What's wrong with a few articles focusing on women?

They're just covering different pieces of the same general story. That's called good journalism.

Yeah maybe, but the treatment seems different.

I did Ctr-F "video games" and Ctr-F "basement" and came up empty.

There's nothing wrong with focusing on women, but the data in the article indicate that the primary driver of the decline in female labor force participation is declining participation by childless single women, driven in part by declining opportunity for the working class, and the anecdotes are all about women who can't get child care or who face discrimination in professional jobs. Obviously, the author has no real interest in childless working class women--which may be the reason so many of them don't vote the way the author wishes they would.

Women are among my favorite people . . .

Typical Hillary-bot. Women aren't really, like, actual people the way men are.

"anecdote entirely at odds with the actual data in the story"

Which part is at odds? Working costs more than work pays? Or pay has not rising as fast as the cost of working?

I have, from personal experience, believed that the businesses and politicians have been "signalling" with flashing red lights, waving red flags, Stop trying to work, we have way too many workers already!

You don't signal you want more of something by cutting the price you are willing to pay, you signal you want more by offering higher prices.

Maria Villaluna simply finally understood she was being told to stop working and to stay at home. Just like young men are told to stay at home and hide in the basement playing games.

6 was pretty good.

“We are stumbling blindly into the automation era with no concept or plan to reconcile the need of workers for income and the need of business for cost-cutting and worker-displacing innovations,” the magazine said in November 1958.


Wikipedia starts tracking "rust belt" loses from around then.

I for one think it is at least possible that could have been better managed.

The big difference in the Indiana lakeshore integrated steel mills from 1958 to now is the automation. Went from 100k employees to less than 5000.

The big difference is migrating from integrated steel making to mini-mills

But there are still mills on the lake in Indiana that were there in 1958 and are still there today. Just looking at them, not at the newer minimills, the job losses due to automation are staggering. They make the same amount of steel they did then, or even more in some cases, and they employ 1/20th of the employees.

Ike and Congress acted to create jobs.

Ike got civilian space projects started to boost transportation technology payment of workers. Signs NASA law July 29, 1958.

And road transportation with Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, signed June 29, 1956, which led to a lot of planning, some work funded and completed in the next year and a half, and a billion more committed, but most important plans for 40,000 miles of four lane highway. Then with the 1958 recession came the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1958 which increased the spend rate so that in 1958, 59, and 60, more than $9 billion was spent, compared to well under a billion per year prior.

In 1958, shortages of steel, and other supplies were seen and projected to increase. Industry responding to demand created jobs to meet demand, ending the recession. And the rate of spending had to increase to complete the remaining three-quarter of the system in 6-7 years.

#6: Similar to the discussion about the CS degree. I bet we would find equal panic when cars were initially invented. People are always skeptical of capitalism in general, but the whole tech cycle is specially anti-intuitive to our money mind. Once robots become an utility and not a differentiator we will see the rise in all kinds of professions and business we cannot even imagine now. I see no reason to believe that "this time is different".

There is however a serious question of how such jobs will be distributed. We do seem to be entering an era where jobs abound for people on the right side of the intelligence bell curve, but are in short supply (at least in regards to living wage jobs) for people on the left side.

Perhaps we are entering that era, but plenty of people are convinced that the middle class has already been hollowed out.

Data from Social Security show that this is nonsense. Here is the wage distribution for 1990 (earliest year available):

And here is the most recent distribution (2015):

Once you adjust for inflation, this tells us that the % of workers earning $82,000 rose by 5 percentage points, while the percent in the middle middle ($55,000-$82,000) was unchanged.

This is a modest shift upward, not a hollowing out. The average American is in better shape than ever (not physically.)

"Once you adjust for inflation, this tells us that the % of workers earning $82,000 rose by 5 percentage points, while the percent in the middle middle ($55,000-$82,000) was unchanged.

This is a modest shift upward, not a hollowing out."

$55,000-$82,000 is not "middle middle." The SSA data source shows that 77% of workers earn less than $55,000 per year.

There is some skewing in the data due to job changes I think, but this is common to both data sets. In 2015 dollars, the percent below $55,000 went from 79% to 74% and the percent above $82,000 went from 8% to 13%. The percent in-between stayed the same (13%). A hollowing out would suggest larger percentages at both low and high pay levels. What we have is more of a hollowing up, which isn't really a hollowing at all.

The "Middle Class" is an economic category. I was talking about intelligence differentials

Not to worry - since we are all above average, there are plenty of jobs for all of us.

This does not console me. Income inequality makes society worse to live in. Even if you're swimming in money, you still have to go to the grocery store and interact with either a buggy machine or an employee with the IQ of a brick. You still live in a democracy with the rest of the country, and if they keep getting poorer, democracy gets more and more broken. Without empowered consumers/voters who make wise choices, companies/politicians will cease to consider their needs.

Data on this seems very weak but I guess it is a possibility. However, I think that it is also debatable whether this is truly a problem or not. Look at what has happened here in the US. A lot of talk about immigrants "stealing our jobs" but the jobs that are actually taken by poor immigrants are very unappealing to the current poor American. I suspect the same thing will happen to automation. Robots might "steal" some of the jobs that poor Americans currently do but future poor Americans would refuse to do those anyway... At the end of the day, that is more of a consequence of our welfare state than anything else, and I don't see us changing that any time soon.

Isn't the issue that immigrants are willing to move out to places with low wage jobs while low income Americans can't/won't move to those places?

If I'm a single male 20 year old immigrant with no familial obligations and a willingness to work hard, I can move basically anywhere and take ANY job no matter how dirty or dangerous. I can pick tomatoes in Florida, drill for oil in Texas, work construction in Las Vegas or rip apart cows in an Oklahoma slaughterhouse. I'd probably be willing to take any of those jobs for $10/hour. After all, what's my alternative? Stealing?

Now imagine I'm a poor single mom in west Philly who lives in a section 8 apartment that I waited three years to get. My options are FAR more limited. I'm probably only going to look for a job within a bus commute of my apartment. If I move in search of work, I'll lose my apartment and probably never be able to find affordable childcare. I'll also lose whatever social network I have. I'm trapped.

A growing job market in the Dallas construction sector doesn't help people who don't move to Dallas.

That sure is a factor. Not only for low skill but for high skill as well. I moved to the US via H1B and took jobs in 4 different states in 10 years. Part of my willingness to move is that I don't have family here, but also that my savings were a lot lower than those of a comparable American. Also, my initial wages were lower than what Americans would like. That has changed over time but it helped me get in the market.

So the world doesn't need ditch diggers too? If true, the people who can beat the machines will provide for those who can't until they get fed up and chaos ensues. Or the people who can't beat the machines get resentful and chaos ensues. Historically, chaos eventually ensues but it doesn't last. Soft landing may involve things we would currently consider immoral like forced eugenics. Or we could find ways to keep left side folks in the game like human machine interfaces. One innovation could change everything.

Forced eugenics is a bit harsh; maybe we could start by stopping the forced dysgenics and see how that goes.

@Brian. Speaking from experience, and taking from the "does Bill Gates entering the bar make you worse off?" question, positional goods like housing in the best school district get increasingly difficult for the middle as the opportunity cost of purchasing at $X decreases for the top.

Jobs are around for smart people, but many of these smart people are knowledge workers and don't/wont

Jobs are around for smart people, but many of these smart people are knowledge workers who aren't (and won't be) part of the managerial class.

That means that the managers are looking for ways keep these knowledge workers from leaving their current jobs while simultaneously looking for ways to make them redundant.

In other words: if you spend 5 years to get a phd in a hot area the managers will fall over themselves to hire you, and then after another 5-10 years when your phd area is commoditized they will toss you.

1. Pessimism is the new optimism, failure is the new success. And it's broad, from the Trumpistas to the libertarians to the monastics to our host at this blog. When did failure become so popular? When faith in liberalism collapsed. That was Polanyi's world, that is our world. Moral economics as an alternative is utopian. Moral communities as an alternative is a possibility: one sees it ranging from Peter Thiel to Rod Dreher. What do I think? I think liberalism gets far too much blame for what's wrong in this world, not nearly enough credit for what's right. I've been reading The Framers' Coup by Michael Klarman. To my surprise, the founders faced essentially the same choice in the 1780s: liberalism vs. the alternatives. The choices then were similar to the choices after WWI were similar to the choices after WWII and are similar to the choice confronting us now. There's a reason why the default has always been liberalism: the alternatives are worse. But I'm an optimist; and I abhor failure.

To his invisible hand, eour going to fail the urine test.

Matthew was matthew and there was a log. Frog.

If the veteran mother had any means to borrow money, should could have lost $15/month for the first 5 years of her child's life but then would likely have a good position by the time public education kicked for kindergarten. That's a mere $900 loan. What will she do when her child is old enough to go to school after a 5 year gap on her resume? It feels like an important part of this story is missing.

It is strange that there is no mention of her family or the father of her child. Or the parents or siblings of the father of her child.

It is possible for a woman to have no connection with her parents or the father of her child and no means to borrow $900. Definitely possible. However, since this article is supposed to be about broad trends, it seems like a strange example to lead with, as pointed out by y81.

Journalists are always going to look for the most extreme case of X in order to write an interesting story about X.

Yeah sure but this seems like an extreme case of Y in order to write an interesting story about X. Other then both being female the two illustration cases seem to have little to do with the trend.

Her family is the military where she got injured and unfit for continued work.

Or maybe she'll be in the same position in 5 years.

If you were the banker to a small business that had revenue of $3000 plus costs of goods of $2500, and $515 in rent and utilities, and such, would you loan that business an added $15 every month as well as adding on the interest, all with no collateral.

(The $3000 are labor swaps $2500, $3000 paid to the mom for working that requires paying $2500 to the child care worker to work. Likely the child care worker is paid $2500 by multiple mom's for the same hours, with her work including other costs of working like paying rent for the place children are cared for. A month earning $3000 is earning less that the child care worker she must pay in order to be able to work.)

In the bad old days of the 60s when interest was capped, these loans were often capped at 1 to 1.5% per month. Today such loans are 35% minimum and often in the 500% range.

You see, ma Cherie, this is the fundamental problem with it depending argument. Because each time you loan $15 to that business, you could have been going to the bank instead. Retainers are plentiful but I'd rather be bountiful. If the interest on the business is marginal than the return from the business than I'd focus on the compound interest. For me, I'd rather eat insect Ma Cherie. And I don't even like insects.

Ding yourself, it

Adleman's analysis of Polanyi misses half (the important half, I would argue) of the activity in moral economics during this time--Hayek. Hayek's THE ROAD TO SERFDOM obviously succeeded where THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION failed. It is telling that he notes the presence of Keynes' ideas as a counterweight to Polanyi's pragmatic muddle but ignores the importance of Hayek and then Friedman in remaking the intellectual and political economic infrastructure of the resurgent West that culminated in the demise of communism. Big time fail.

TGT was a reaction to the Depression. TRTS was a reaction to Totalitarianism. The one was an attack on placing too much faith on markets; the other other was an attack on placing too much faith in the state. Hayek came to prominence in the Cold War era as TRTS was an excellent argument against both Communism and an overbearing New Deal/Great Society America, and the problems that TGT addressed were not really big problems for most of the 20th century.

The review is one of the best I have read on Polanyi but it does miss half of something but what? Was Polanyi all that muddled? Perhaps he was just not able to articulate his premises properly?

Both Polanyi and Hayek grew up in very similar circumstances. Part of that Habsburg Renaissance that created much of the modern world. But Polanyi was Jewish in origin. Perhaps he could not articulate the way that he felt the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its collapse had let the Jews down? As a Hungarian perhaps he associated Liberalism with the British world order? Hungarian Jews were often very sympathetic to that Liberal world - just read John Lukacs.

It is inconceivable to me that Polanyi could have lived with the rise of reactionary Hungarian nationalism, Communism and Fascism without reflecting on how these impacted people like him in particular. That he did not embrace that liberal world is fascinating as it did save his life. That he was a critic who actually adopted a lot of the same arguments and positions of the Hungarian reactionaries and then the Nazis - that anti-liberal idea that the economy should be embedded in a "community" that specifically excluded people like him - is something I have never seen explained well.

#3 unless you have many children $2,500 seems like a lot to spend on daycare. If she has 3 children and she switched to doing daycare she could get $1,600/mouth for caring for her 3 children and a 2 others. Perhaps I am missing something.

"She went into day-care centers with her newborn daughter and begged the people working there to help her get state funding for child care."

The cost for day-care for newborns is often higher. That being said, $2,500 still seems like a high rate for 3 children.

It's not, depending highly on the location

Remember when I saw you that one time?

Your consider an income of $30,000 to be sufficient to live and provide a place safe to care for a child under age five who is most of the time active, crawling, walking, running, along with sleeping, eating? Which part of the world?

And she can't have three children: "After she gave birth to her first child last year". At 36, after a decade out of the military where she was injured and thus partially disabled, presumably making her unfit for continued duty, ie, presumably 5 or so years of service. Maybe college then service, or service plus training, including college, between 18 and 26. Maybe signing up after 911.

And while it's been two decades since I worked with women with kids, $2500 to care for one child for a month seems typical from what they said in the greater Boston area.

$2500/mo for one child is way too much, even in Boston. Maybe if you go to the poshest place with PhDs watching your infant.

Judging by her extremely low rent payments, I would guess she does not live in Boston.

I respectfully disagree in the sense that you imply that they were analyzing different ideas. If you read the last chapter of TGT, you can see, in opposition to TRTS, Polanyi gives a broad green light to state planning. Polanyi writes from a muddled pragmatist perspective, but is clear he has no problem with the essence of socialist planning (which was percolating in the United States at this time). You also note that Hayek came to prominence in the Cold War era. This is not true. TRTS was a best seller in the United States (in 1944), was a Book of the Month Club selection, and was serialized in Reader's Digest--to millions of accepting Americans--in early 1945. Hayek even went on a prominent book tour during this time--well before the Cold War (the term was coined in 1947). TGS was released at the same exact time in the United States and was a flop. It was also a flop in Europe. TRTS resonated in the U.S. because Hayek was reacting harshly against the rise of socialist planning during the Great Depression and posited that this state of affairs could constitute an eventual demise in Western democracies similar to the USSR and Germany. So, you are correct to note that TRTS was primarily a reaction to totalitarianism. But I believe that you are incorrect to dismiss it as a reaction to the Great Depression as well where political changes in Western Europe and the United States--which Hayek was reacting to--followed that economic collapse.

Fair points. I wasn't attempting to argue that TGT was an equal to TRTS, merely that relative quality was not a monocausal explanation for their relative influence and historical timing does play, I think, a large role. It is for that reason that now, in a reaction to what is seen as a great failure of overreliance on unregulated markets, that TGT has again begun to come into vogue. But I concede completely that TRTS is a much more concise, refined, and well-reasoned argument than TGT which is quite muddled and uses the word Speenhamland about 200% more than any book should (i.e. focused too much on a particular historical incident instead of general applications).

A review of The Complacent Class can be found here: .

Good review, however you refer to a "stunning decline in the crime rate since 1970." There's been hardly any decline in the crime rate since 1970:

#5 I think *any* quantity of eSports degrees is probably too much.

Then again, this is hardly the first college degree offering which is not really intended to fill a market need but is instead something that incoming freshman *think* will be cool; for example, a lot of graphic design majors and comp sci majors attempt the degrees to get into video game design, something almost every male under the age of 30 has thought about at one point or another. We have a glut of graphic design majors, and a lot of comp sci majors drop the major in the first or second year when they realize it requires math and physics and dedication, at which point a lot of schools have a secondary 'information systems' degree which is slightly questionable as to how useful it is (most of the major companies are looking for pure CS degrees).

So this brings up the idea again that colleges don't typically offer the degrees most needed by society, but the ones a doe-eyed 18 year old think sound cool. Combined with the massive amounts of debt we allow students to wander into rather easily, this hardly seems socially optimal.

I'd also argue that most regular 'sports' or 'sports journalism' degrees are also useless, but then again I never have been as big a fan of football as most colleges.

#3 is on point.

I'm a high wage earner, so my wife's marginal tax is high. After we had our first child and calculated how much she would earn when she returned to work, the amount of money left over after taxes and childcare was so low it was disheartening. There wasn't really a point in returning to work, beyond the value of the optionality of maintaining her career until the kid was old enough to attend school.

But as I finish the article it contradicts the opening anecdote. :) I guess it makes sense that folks would leave the workforce if real wages of available jobs are not as attractive as they used to be.

The opening anecdote and the article say women are leaving the work force because the pay hasn't kept pace with the cost to workers, especially women, of working.

What did you read the article to say?

I'm not a super high wage earner and my wife makes more or less (actually a smidge more) then I do so we're not really in the same boat. That said if you had asked me after our daughter was born, I would have said " the value of the optionality of maintaining her career" is pretty high. Both of us being employed basically functions like insurance - if one us gets fired we can get by on one income and if, God forbid, one of us dies then there's a way forward beyond whatever life insurance pays out. Which is to say, both of us working let's me sleep better at night which is a nice thing.

I could see coming to a different conclusion if there was big imbalance in what we made though or if I was much bolder then I actually am.

raze the grass, immerorial and a hallejah

RE: # 2. Maybe they should have maximized editing their own abstract and avoided the misuse of the word "intend."

#4 The action of CRISPR is directed by the guide RNA which in practice is about 20 basepairs long, simple exact matching error rate of 1 in a million and apply that to billions of genomic basepairs it is a wonder that it works at all. 3D spatial constraints might reduce the error rate some what. Furthermore in practice it is actually based on low level fuzzy matching and increasing guide length might decrease the accuracy. Thus the main task is to select a gRNA that reduces the collateral damages on the other functional genes.

1. Moral economics, how quaint. Sounds like a pipe dream not the American Dream. MLK once said that our government is "the greatest purveyor of violence." Free-market capitalism is one of the greatest tools in its arsenal. Peter Lawler wrote in National Affairs, "One lesson of capitalism is that relying on love is for suckers." I would expound on that to include all human emotion. Our two political parties are essentially corporatists that support said Capitalist regime. One claims fealty to a God that emphasizes love and compassion while its guardians rip away support for the undeserved poor to enrich rent seekers. The other claims to champion the poor while insulating itself in comfortable liberal enclaves and indulging in hypocrisy. Which leads me to the 2nd topic.

2. Maximizers exist in a tenuous struggle with status quo loyalists. To be effective requires a certain cunning to convince others that change is beneficial. We cannot simply barge in with facts and statements of authority. Maximizers must adopt the principles of generous orthodoxy. To precipitate change necessitates investment in the institution and a willingness to walk away when necessary. Which leads me to the 3rd topic.

3. I call this the bullshit to benefit ratio. We must decide when compensation no longer outweighs the crap one must endure to effectively do their job. TPS reports, anyone?

4. "Oh! What a tangled web we weave." We have no concept of the cascade that will be produced by such bioengineering. There are 15,000+ protein coding genes alone that vary from individual to individual. We barely understand what activates/deactivates those genes and how it will affect other genes. Not to mention the impact on natural selection and evolution. Caution is well advised.

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