Monday assorted links

1. Virginia gets serious about congestion pricing on Rt.66, some tolls $30 or maybe higher?

2. Union Square chess hustling, circa 2017.  Those old service sector jobs, but updated.

3. China Titanic markets in everything: “For a premium price of 200,000 yuan ($30,000), a guest can play the role of Rose, one of the movie’s star-crossed protagonists.”

4. Profile of Rod Dreher.

5. “…☺ does not necessarily look smiling to everyone.”

6. Claims about Industrial Revolution wages.

7. Some written-out summary points from my podcast with David Perell.


There's a Rick & Morty episode about #3... and it's not pretty...

Which episode is it?

Season 1 finale, "Ricksy Business."

5: :) may not look like a smile to everyone. on the other hand, most cultures there are paleolithic figures of sexy women: venus figurines. there are some images and proportions that mean the same for people around the world.

#2 - Union Square NY chess hustler. I doubt he makes $400 a day, from talking to Washington Square chess hustlers, who claim they make maybe $20 a day, but I could be wrong. Panhandling in certain prime locations supposedly yields, years ago, $40k/yr. Maybe this guy found a nice spot? More likely he's bragging.

Bonus trivia: the chess hustlers of Washington Square were rated IMO about expert level, I beat some of them, without a clock, and I'm about 1850-1950 Elo depending on the speed.

It says he makes "up to" $400 a day and also says that he is the highest earner in the park. Definitely consistent with average earnings being two figures.

In any case, I would say that relying on self-reported income from people who are acknowledged hustlers is pretty precarious. Probably plenty of people are getting $3-$5 a game and getting 10 games a day. Most are probably part time.

The reporters never ask how much income the subjects report to the government.

I think of a hustler as someone who deceives people about his abilities, and effectively scams them. That doesn't seem to be the case here. Why isn't this fellow just seen as a modest-level chess professional in the informal economy? At $20 a half hour, his lessons have to be about the cheapest you'll find in NYC to be taught anything. $3 to play him a game is a deal compared to what some hack tennis pro would charge.

#1. Since we don't have private roads, nor the means to establish them, and housing costs are very high and constrained by restrictions on development, I suspect that tolls on I-66 are gonna turn out to be pretty price inelastic. It's not like people have a lot of options about which roads to use, or there are other roads out there that aren't congested.

And I predict Washingtonians, mostly statist, will vote to remove the restrictions like I think they did with that Aussie toll-road operator that had the Dulles airport toll road for a while. Communists enjoy waiting in line.

I am for making I-66 a toll road since we have rental properties along the Orange line metro good for our business.

It would be nice if the Orange line were more reliable and had more cars at rush hour as well. Oh but wait! ridiculously high costs and inefficient workers/managers mean that they demand even MORE money for what other nations manage to do with less.

They have the option of taking the regular lanes which remain untolled

The most interesting aspect is how willing are drivers to have a transponder. Surrey Satellite Technology put a satellite capable of tracking every vehicle in the EU if they had transponders (if I recall correctly). Political will to pace them in all cars was an issue.
Also, this seems ideal for an Uber type operation for carpooling.

#2 So that is what America has become: a place where people must perform tricks to the public as if they were half-starved animals under the whip of a sadistic taskmaster. The Way We (you) Live Now, Trollope would have said.

"Solo drivers who are willing to pay will be able to use the lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours, a change in a decades-long restriction to keep the peak-direction lanes open only to cars with two or more occupants. Tolls will fluctuate based on congestion. The lanes will continue to be free for carpoolers who have a toll transponder set to HOV."

Before: Only HOV allowed. After: HOV plus one-passenger exorbitant toll-payers allowed. Am I missing something, or does this only increase the number of cars on 66 during rush hour?

I don't quite get it either. The planners in the article say that commuters will turn to transit because of the high tolls. What will be tolled that is currently free?

Ask not for whom the Toll bills, it tolls for thee.

The winning pitcher of Game 1 was Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.

#4- The profile of Dreher read to me as superficial, as if neither the author nor the Washington Post takes Dreher or his ideas seriously.

Indubitably, they picked Dreher because he's easy to dismiss. He's highly emotional, given to thoughtless fusillades, has a fairly high ratio of intellectual ambition to actual liberal education, and is kind of a jerk as a human being (in part because he was born without much of a sense of honor or discretion). A profile of a heavyweight like Anthony Esolen or James Hitchcock you likely will not see.

I took a look at Esolen's essay "A Bumping Boxcar Language". He is certainly a learned man, but he says this:

"What does one do to turn the word of God into Nabbish? Blunt it whenever possible; grind down the word of God into a dull-edged sword. Here, for example, is a famous verse from Psalm 23, translated into early modern English in the King James Bible: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil . That is exactly what it says in Hebrew ( NB-DON ). The King James translators, naive as they were, believed their task was to submit wholly to the word of God, its meaning, its connotation, its imagery, its rhetorical force. They found the unusual compound tzal-maweth and shuddered from the beauty of it: the shadow of death . Imagine walking through that valley. The trees loom; a strange silence comes over us; we do not know what awaits. It is, unquestionably, one of the most memorable images in all of Scripture. Most English Bibles retain it.

"But in the New American Bible it is: Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil . Notice the muffling. The affirmative yea , translating the Hebrew gom , is simply folded into the conjunction. The verb tense”Hebrew has no future”with its delicate shading of supposal and purpose (“I trust in the Lord, I affirm that I will not fear”) is flattened down to the present. And then that shadow of death , the shadow we all feel at times, is reduced to the ordinary and comfortable adjective dark . "

Here's Rashi...

"in the valley of darkness: Heb. צלמות, in a land of darkness. He alludes to the desert of Ziph (I Sam. 23:13 28). Every [mention of] צלמות is an expression of darkness. Dunash ben Labrat defined it [in this manner]."

I don't see where death is literally mentioned at all. It feels good to say that you know exactly how to translate the Torah, but you don't.

I looked up a few of the Hebrew lexicographic sources (there are lots on the internet). I think Esolen's point may have been based on an understanding of Hebrew parallelism - you don't say, in Hebrew, valley of shadow, meaning, in a literal sense, valley of shadow, any more than you say in English, brown of color, meaning, in a literal sense, brown of color. All valleys have shadow - you know that if you live in a small country with not that many valleys, it is not something you have to rely on statistics or poetic knowledge to know - and maybe no Hebrew speaker, hearing tzal maweth, would think "valley of shadow" any more than any English speaker who has grown up reading Shakespeare, hearing "John of Gaunt" would think "that skinny guy from Shakespeare." And nobody says "brown of color" in the way that would equate to that, word for word. Think of it this way, leaving Shakespeare aside: if you hear the phrase "sleep of dreams", in a poem by a poet who has already won your heart, do you immediately think of the dreams that ordinarily go with sleep? The actual, ordinary, dreams of the average middle-aged person who will be riding on the average subway or driving on the average highway the next morning, with his or her self-centered ordinary non-transcendental thoughts? Unless you are unusually focused on all of our eternal futures (and if you are please stop reading this comment I am wasting your time), I don't think so. I am not disagreeing with Donald Pretari or Esolen. But maybe (and I don't think Esolen is one of those people, at least not if we define those people in a very limited sense, but that is not the point of this comment) there are people who are lot closer to knowing how to exactly translate the Torah than others.

in line 4, "no Hebrew speaker" should be replaced with "no ancient Hebrew speaker" ...

interestingly, be-gei is of uncertain derivation, whereas tzal maweth isn't.

in sum, if you were sitting by firelight in ancient Judah and someone said be-gei tzai maweth, the odds of you hearing the equivalent of "the valley of the shadow of darkness" might be vanishingly small. While there are only 4,000 or so Biblical Hebrew nouns that we know about - of which, probably, no more than half have multiple poetic, simple non-poetic, or technical meanings (or meanings akin to the long ago lost 'trademarks' and 'allusions' that J Vernon McGee discussed so clearly in his radio broadcast introduction to Isaiah) - and 4,000 is not a big number, the average American male could answer questions about 4,000 professional athletes by the time he is 40 (not all at once, of course) - well, 4,000 is a small number , let's leave it at that - while there are only 4,000 Biblical Hebrew nouns, and at least 2,000 have no ambiguity whatsoever, very few of us have spent so much as a single day in anything like the simplest working day world that the ancient Hebrews knew. Nice language, of course, but so many of the references - almost all the subtle ones, and many of the non-subtle ones - are not very accessible anymore. Thanks for reading (hope I did not waste your time - if you did not stop reading, long, long ago. Peace, brother).

The World Series Most Valuable Player Award went to Sandy Koufax, who started two of the four games and had two complete game victories.

I know Rod Dreher, initially through his blog, but now also in real life. Like all of us he has his quirks, but he is not remotely "kind of a jerk as a human being". He and I disagree on a number of topics, but he has always been courteous and friendly.
Perhaps you could explain what he has done that is dishonorable? I suppose some of the things he has included in his book and his blog about his family could be labeled "indiscreet" but there's a long history of essayists minding their personal lives for material.

The New Yorker profiled him in May, over more than a cup of coffee, and the result is more involving, if no less clear that of his fretfulness there will probably be no end.

On his blog, he had a wonderful reaction to this Washington Post profile.

At the foot of this altar of coarse structure
Git without pump, locked in a vile beer,
The most learned mortal who ever wrote;

Really very few mortals are learned in an interesting way. Amusing, in a recondite way; lots of those: capable of adding a little to the awe-inspiring storage of knowledge, perhaps by mastering all the verbs and nouns of some long-gone poetic language, and translating well from that language: lots of those, too: but "most learned mortal" in an instructive and true and useful way? Rare, rare, rare. Try sitting between Einstein and Heidegger in the middle row of an antipode-bound 747 - and, unless they are in a nicely communicative mood, (and the niceness would be orthogonal to their learnedness almost any day of their life) two hours in, at the most, you will be asking the stewardess when the movie starts (a comedy, you are secretly hoping). And they were a couple of very learned boys, Einstein and Heidegger. Nah, you wouldn't find them anywhere near any altar worth being near, qua altar. One has "a right to be merry" , as our Carmelite friends have said more than once (google "right to be merry" and "Carmelite": you're welcome. It takes a lot to make me use a verb like g-o-o-g-l-e-; but you're welcome. Hope that helps: I am sure I would have understood your comment if the vocabulary did not include one more proper noun than I am familiar with. If I did not understand, better luck next time: Sydney or the bush!

There is no Rt. 66 in Virginia. You mean Interstate 66.

Then where do Virginians get their kicks?,_Virginia

4. Dreher promotes a form of sectarianism and separatism that dates from early Christianity and is reflected in the Letters of John in the canon. Jesus (the Great Commission) and Paul (who took the faith to Gentiles) preached inclusion not exclusion. Dreher speaks for the "beleaguered Christians" who reject the calls for inclusion.

who reject the calls for inclusion.

There are no calls for 'inclusion' except as a rhetorical game. Those calling wish to shift the boundaries delineating who is included and who is excluded and replace a religion based on Scripture and Tradition with one based on pop psychology.

Dreher promotes orthodoxy. For all his radicalism in other areas, Paul's morality remained thoroughly Jewish, and anyone who has read 1 Corinthians knows that Paul was not inclusive in the sense that liberal mainstream denominations often attempt to be:

"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."

No Paul's morality was not "thoroughly Jewish" since again and again Paul rejected the value of the Mosaic Law.

"Dreher promotes a form of sectarianism and separatism"

Rubbish. You have not read the book.

Dreher's point, which he is at pains to belabor, is that Christians who wish their children to remain Christian will have to strengthen their Christian communities in the absence of help, or the fact of hostility, from wider society.

The only withdrawal he advocates is something like going to the spiritual gym, if you want to call going to the gym a "withdrawal" from athletic society.

It's interesting that so much press misrepresents Dreher's argument. Must be a thing, for them.

1. Who should pay for the dedicated right of way necessary to make autonomous vehicles a reality? Should it be the companies which operate the autonomous vehicles? Or should it be taxpayers generally?

Why would they need a dedicated right of way?

Since this is rayward's understanding of technology:

Channing died in Old Bennington, Vermont, where a cenotaph is placed in his memory.

# 6 The writer says that Industrial Revolution wages are lower than previously thought; he also says that this fact has tremendous implications about what we know about economics today.

Why doesn't he go the extra step and explain why that fact is monumentally important? Does this mean that conservatives are wrong about many issues? Does this mean that liberalism really *is* a mental disorder? Inquiring minds want to know.

Presumably, this refers to the popular view in economics that technology tends to raise living standards (exemplified by the Industrial Revolution throwing farmers and craft producers out of work, but then providing urban manufacturing jobs), and that the Robot Revolution will also raise living standards even if we don't know exactly how yet.

My guess is that it means that wage growth in the 19th century was far quicker than historians argue. That seems right to me: I've never believed that in the greatest economic advance since agriculture that wages and production can have increased as slowly as historians have claimed.

What I have no feel for is whether this mistake by historians is honest error or dirty politics. I dare say that varies from one historian to the next.

The argument that urban wages got a bit above the pay of the under and seasonably employed rural poor and then stayed there until the pool of under employed rural poor was largely exhausted makes a certain amount of sense. It can be tested using contemporary statistics from countries that are currently urbanising, The prediction is that there would be a fairly protracted period of urban pay stasis while the population becomes increasingly urban then once the rural population drops to the point that rural under employment largely disappears and then urban pay starts to increase relatively rapidly.

1662, the dodo goes extinct. Mean Acceleration is figured to be -3.11662

People are too quick to dismiss Rod Dreher. He can be overly emotional and I honestly cannot wrap my head around some of his social conservatism but he is one of those writers who consistently challenges my views on many other topics. He is principled and independent. As a secular social liberal, I read him to understand those who think differently than I do rather than just ridicule them. He isn’t about to change my mind on those issues but I am grateful to people like him for opening it to why people believe what they do. Kudos for linking to this, though I agree the New Yorker did a better job.

one of those writers who consistently challenges my views on many other topics.

Pretty ironic that he cannot bear up under challenges to himself, or to his employers, or to his combox pets.

He is principled and independent.

You've misunderstood him completely. He is highly other-directed and his writing quite self-centered and laden with attitudinizing.

Methinks someone has an axe to grind.

Arts still smarting coz Rod banned him a few months ago for repeated trolling.

Not the least bit surprising

6. Pseudoerasmus (one of my favorite historians on Twitter) was talking about this a few weeks back. One of the most prominent theories for the rise of steam power and the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain is that Britain had very high wages compared to nearly all other countries in the 18th century and early 19th century, and that was a powerful incentive for the adoption of labor-saving machinery. But if it turns out that British wages were actually quite low - the author of the piece says they might be at the low end among the northwestern European countries - then that theory is thrown for a loop.

Or at least it requires a lot more nuance and narrowing down of evidence. It's possible that British wages overall were low, but that steam power still came for coal mine water pumping because the overall labor cost of using workers and animals for it was high, or maybe the wages for coal mine workers were high relative to wages overall in England.

It seems to me that if a productivity-improving investment will increase output 100-fold, then it doesn't matter if you pay your workers $1 per hour or $10 per hour; that investment would still be worthwhile.

It's like debating whether you should buy a $5,000,000 winning lottery ticket for $1 or $2. The price of the ticket should be worthwhile regardless.

Everything (well,… most things) you know about wages 1650 -1800 is wrong.

Say what you want about Dreher - but, out of all the Christians with a "web presence" (sad words) there are not many like Dreher - (a man with no wrath in his heart) who, although fundamentally unsound on what Aristotle would call the civic virtue of 'proper assessment' of our would-be rulers ( compare the number of negative posts he has written on poor Trump, a likable and Christian old man (albeit one who is not proud of his youthful days, when it was so easy to be tempted), and who is measurably kinder to the Christians and the other innocent humans of our day - in every country- in every country - take my word for it - as compared to the number of negative posts he (Dreher) wrote (hint - much fewer) about the previous presidents, combined: few of whom (in their pride of life, but they are now all much older, much much older - and hopefully, with age comes wisdom. and repentance for their enthusiastic support of all the evils of the modern age, evils which, to tell the truth, may have seemed to them, in their rich and healthy youth, a form - a selfish form, of course, but still a form - I will allow them that - of the best that could be, since nobody cares, in their sad little worlds, about anyone else))were, in their much less likable primes, even minimally kind to those who did not support the modernist imperative - well, either you care about that or you don't- .......well, say what you want about Dreher - he is a good man, with no hatred in his heart, and who does his best. For the love of God, seriously, who cares what anybody thinks about politicians that they have not met, if they do not have wrath in their souls and do not have hatred in their heart? Also, his book on Dante is really good. Thanks for reading.

just a little bit more on "who cares what anybody thinks about politicians they have not met, if they do not have wrath in their souls and do not have hatred in their heart?" Well,what if they are really bad politicians? I am no big fan of Aristotle, but he was right about many things, including this: a politician who does not care about others cannot be called a politician. Keep that in mind, and the question (in this comment, the word heart before the question mark is the last word of the question in question: the word politicians before the question mark is the last word in a question , but is not the last word of the question in question - not right now, of course, but maybe some other time, and let us hope we can find and hear a charitable answer - I, too, have wondered - and sometimes, with a worried heart - if my many grandchildren - some of them, perhaps, politicians - will all be as loving and decent as I would want....), with sprezzatura, answers itself. Thanks for reading. Keep in mind: a politician who does not care about others cannot be called a politician. Thanks for reading.

Are you perchance Russian? Or pretending to be Russian? Although efim is a Russian name, it also sounds in English like F*** 'em.

Re: compare the number of negative posts he has written on poor Trump, a likable and Christian old man

In what alternate universe is Donald Trump, who is a snarling jerk and self-confessed lecher, a "likable and Christian old man"?

Trump (a) is a pro-life guy now that he is older and wiser (young Trump was probably a pro-choice lecher, I will give you that) and compassion for the most defenseless among us - the unborn - is a Christian trait; (b) is beloved by the poor in a way that no Republican has been since Reagan died - that seems to be an objective fact that you can't argue with, and Christians are big on doing things that cause the poor to admire them; (c) is capable of having lots of mistresses but sticks to one wife at a time, which is more consistent with what a Christian would do than the multiple mistress scenario (d) is someone whose kids respect him and (e) he quotes the Bible every once in a while. Remember the bar for being called a Christian is very low these days - even Obama, the partial birth abortion advocate, was generally believed by hoi polloi when he (fairly half-heartedly) claimed to be Christian. As for likable - let's be honest, most people in the USA think Obama - and even the non-female Clinton and both Bushes - are likeble too. I disagree with those subjective judgments, but it is an objective fact that they are perceived as likable, and being perceived as likable sort of is the dictionary definition of likable (granted a really really good dictionary might state otherwise but who owns a really really good dictionary?). So you don't have to go to an alternate universe to honestly claim Trump is Christian and likable. As for your calling him a lecher and a jerk: Remember, very very few lechers are pro-life. I know one or two, but they are really unusual people, much more unusual than the current chief executive. And somebody's comedian is always somebody else's jerk, with a few exceptions, not applicable here. And as for old: 70 is old. even 65 is old, and 70 is older than 65.

So Trump is about as Christian as Obama (which is to say he is an atheist who pays half-hearted lip service to being Christian in public)? I think that would be a fair statement. But Trump isn't nearly as undeniable, unequivocally Christian as Pence.

Re: Trump (a) is a pro-life guy now

That is NOT the definition if a Christian.

Re: is beloved by the poor in a way that no Republican has been since Reagan died

Now you are verging on delusional. Sure, somewhere some pauper is singing Trump's praises-- in a nation of 320 million people anything not counter to the laws of physics will happen. But of I went door to door in the low income parts of Baltimore (where I live) and asked after people's opinions of Donald Trump I'm pretty confident I would get an earful-- and it would not be of sweet adoration for him. (Note also that Trump's voters skewed richer than the US mean)

Re: is capable of having lots of mistresses but sticks to one wife at a time,

Well, if your standards of chastity is that loose, then of course! Can we also nominate Charles II ("The Merry Monarch") and Edward IV (most promiscuous man ever to sit on England's throne) as good Christians too? Both only married one wife and never mind how many mistresses they juggled.

Re: is someone whose kids respect him

Huh? He's brought them money and now power. Of course they "respect" him.

Re: he quotes the Bible every once in a while.

Yes, and even the Devil can do the same.

Yeah there are a lot of things one can label Trump as, but 'Christian' is literally one of the least apt.

Apparently we shall have to agree to disagree. Still, please let me say this (and I have no problem thinking you, or nobody else, will ever read this) because, like you, I know lots of poor people, and I really do feel for them, in their knowledge that many rich people (and remember, in the eyes of almost every poor person, anyone who comments on a libertarian economics blog just because they want to is probably a rich person) really do want them to abort themselves out of their poor-person existence: on the pro-life issue, a huge issue in the eyes of God, Trump is a better Christian than Pope Francis or the Archbishop of Canterbury. So there's that. Granted, I wouldn't want any one of the three of them (Trump, the Pope, the Archbishop) to marry my daughter, of course. And, as a gesture of kindness or conciliation, Franz, may I say I am glad you are not related to any one of the three of them, either. (I know lots of poor people too, for the record. Just saying. I don't just despise abortionists because they abort the innocent, which is bad enough in itself, but even more because they make poor people feel as if their children are without worth or value. Next! Trump, for all his faults, gets that - maybe it took him a long time to get it, but he finally got it.)

I was born in the USA, but have a grandfather who was born in the Russian Empire, near Poltava, who served in a cavalry regiment of the Tsar's Army in the 1890s before emigrating westward. I am almost fluent in Russian (or at least I used to be): Efim is a family name (Grandmother's sister was named Euphemia, Feemie for short - a nice lady, I have been told). Polenov means "of the fields" and I like fields. I wouldn't use a pun on the Anglo-saxon word you referenced. In Dostoyevsky's (unlike my grandmother's sister, not generally a nice person - God help his soul - but a more insightful novelist than she would have been) last novel, Efim Polenov is a minor character who is helpful for awhile to some of the major characters (Alyosha, Mishka) but who tires of being helpful after not too long.

that was a reply to P Burgos at 10:43 AM

I didn't realize that it was a reference to the Brother's K.

I am guessing you are somehow affiliated with the conductor Burgos: a big favorite on FM radio in my city ...

You have posted a very detail document. I read all of your article and I really like it, I understand your point of view.

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