Tuesday assorted links


2. I suppose people fret over their iphones and replace them so often because they can. Unlike, for instance, a car. No, wait, one can replace a car about as cheaply as one can replace an iphone. Unlike, for instance, a house. No, wait, one can replace a house about as cheaply as one can replace an iphone. Unlike, for instance, a spouse, which can be very expensive - he may even get your iphone in the divorce. Priorities must be established.

iPhone X is the next Blackberry; for now, it's all about signaling: https://priorprobability.com/2017/11/07/signaling-theory-iphone-x-edition/

"2. I suppose people fret over their iphones and replace them so often because they can. Unlike, for instance, a car. No, wait, one can replace a car about as cheaply as one can replace an iphone. Unlike, for instance, a house. No, wait, one can replace a house about as cheaply as one can replace an iphone. "

rayward seems to be heading toward mulpville.

Mulpville, pop. 2. But flyover state or no?

I would love it if Jason (Kottke) would review Apple's tax avoidance strategies: https://priorprobability.com/2017/11/09/the-hypocrisy-of-apple/

From 1:

"15/ Which brings us to the centrality of the misunderstanding. Brexit is a political, but far more importantly, a legal process."

Far more importantly?

In the sense that the British have been trying to avoid their legal obligations due to the fact that they remain an EU member until 2019? Yes, legal is quite correct.

Here is an example - 'Theresa May admitted the Home Office made an “unfortunate error” when it mistakenly sent up to 100 letters to EU nationals living in the UK ordering them to leave the country or face deportation.

The prime minister was forced into the statement after it emerged that a Finnish academic working in London had highlighted the warning letter she had received, which told her to leave the UK or risk being detained.

Although Eva Johanna Holmberg has lived in the UK with her British husband for most of the last decade, the correspondence from the Home Office said that if she did not leave the country of her own accord the department would give “directions for [her] removal”. It added that she was “a person liable to be detained under the Immigration Act”.

Holmberg, a visiting academic fellow from the University of Helsinki at Queen Mary University of London, was told that she had a month to leave, a demand that left her baffled. “It seems so surreal and absurd that I should be deported on the grounds that I’m not legal. I’ve been coming and going to this country for as long as I remember,” she said. “I don’t know what kind of image they have of me but it’s clearly quite sinister based on the small amount of info they actually have on me.”' https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/23/home-office-apologises-for-letters-threatening-to-deport-eu-nationals

Or this more recent example of how the British government tried to pretend is stopped being on EU member on March 29th - 'Britain has quietly conceded that EU27 nationals coming to the country at any point before Brexit day in 2019 will have their rights protected, after a collapse in the number of workers coming to the country blew apart any argument for an earlier cut-off date, according to EU sources close to the negotiations.

Downing Street had been keeping open the possibility that it would offer fewer rights to those arriving after 29 March this year, the date on which the prime minister formally notified Brussels of Britain’s intention to leave the EU. It had been claimed that setting the cut-off date on Brexit day in 2019 would open the UK to a flood of EU27 citizens seeking to enter before Britain left the bloc.

Senior EU sources, however, said that after a dramatic decrease in the number of nationals coming to the UK from the rest of the bloc since the referendum, the British negotiating team had quietly accepted Brussels’ argument that there could be no discrimination between member states’ citizens during the remaining time in which Britain was a member state.' https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/04/uk-has-conceded-over-cut-off-date-for-eu-nationals-brussels-brexit-rights

Cry! Cry! Cry! Cry!

Wow, you're right, prior. That really is far more important.

Number of EU citizens in UK: >3 Million
Mistaken letters: 100

IPhone X review: http://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-x-camera-review-guatemala

If the Dhaka/Delhi/Islamabad caucus — which is a group that never gets to talk — really thinks big power politics is over I’m surprised they just don’t take over the gulf states.

"The probability that a random person the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it using Face ID is approximately 1 in 1,000,000 (versus 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID)."

But the chance that someone could point your iPhone at you and unlock it is approximately 1:1

The one in 50000 claim is laughable. I've unlocked my old iPhone with two fingers at weren't registered.

" If UK wants to extend A50, or revoke it, just say magic word. Even at last minute."

Is this true?

And if so, why not just keep extending the two year clock?

The other messages coming from the EU Commission, Parliament and and governments of the EU27 similarly suggest that they would be open to an Article 50 revocation or extension. With the proviso that any revocation of Article 50 would have to represent a sincere UK government desire to remain in the EU indefinitely and not be a negotiating ploy.

I think that extending Article 50 is the most sensible option. It doesn't look like there is enough time to organize a smooth departure in March 2019. Some sort of other transition period has been discussed. But it involves legal problems - to start with the UK's status in the hundreds of trade agreements that the EU has already agreed with other states and regional blocs.

But it would be controversial if Article 50 were to be extended. That would mean that the UK would continue to be a full EU member state after March 2019; which would be unpopular with many. More worrying for Brexit supporters would be the prospect that the UK's departure from the EU would keep being extended indefinitely as successive governments grapple with the difficult choices and complexities of leaving the EU.

Article 50 clearly states that any extension to the 2-year exit period must be with unanimous agreement of ALL EU states. So, formally speaking, a UK "reversion" shouldn't stop BREXIT without every single other state in the EU agreeing to the extension.

This fact seems to escape many commentators.

Of course, the EU shows total contempt for clearly written law where it's self interest is concerned, which is one reason we are leaving.

I think the original tweeter means that all EU27 would approve an extension, thus "just say magic word".

yes it's easy to summarise the views of 27 states in 1 tweet, now that we've got 280 chars.

Yes, perhaps it assumes that all 27 others are OK with that and only the UKs say-so is needed for the country to remain.

However, I would note pedantically that Article 50 says NOTHING about cancelling or revoking the exit of a state after notice is given (no take-backsies). It says the treaties WILL cease to apply 2 years after notification of intent to withdraw. It only talks about an EXTENSION to the exit process to facilitate future arrangements with mutual agreement.

Even if such an extension was indefinite, for a de-facto "remain", the UK would still legally be in the exit lobby throughout. All it would take would be for 1 other member, at any later stage, to withdraw their extension consent, and would Brexit not be back on...?

This is all probably irrelevant as the EU doesn't give a damn what the law says, but thought I'd just point out the plain reading of the article for those not familiar with it.

Some might ask why a state couldn't simply cancel it's notification under Article 50?

Well, because if would render the remainder of Article 50 moot; the requirement for mutual agreement to extension. Hence this cannot be the meaning of the article. Why specify mutual agreement for extension of membership is necessary if the leaver can unilaterally extend membership by withdrawing notification? Obviously this cannot be the interpretation.

Indeed, it leads to the absurdity that to increase bargaining power and facilitate freedom of action, a State could simply give "rolling notice" of intent to withdraw, withdrawing it each time before the date.

#1: "no aviation" is a bit dramatic.

Easyjet announced last summer they're moving to Vienna. 49% of shares are already owned in Europe, thus going 50.1% is not much trouble. Pragmatic Ryanair is base in Dublin, which stays in Europe. They just need to demonstrate shares are managed from Netherlands or Luxembourg. IAG can just transfer planes from British Airways to Iberia.

What about the incentives? On this year Ryanair became the largest air carrier in Europe. I'd say people in the continent would be more interested in dethroning Ryanair compared to having access to UK aviation market.

"Hyper-risk I saw in Dhaka/Karachi/Delhi is not geopolitical but ecological. Political need for speed development ecosystem cannot sustain." -- and you wonder why they find us irrelevant. They don't give a poop when they are going from a GDP per capita of 1000 to 30000.

baizuo is the reason, the sole reason, for the decline of the West.

Here's a better link. It's actually about economics! Monetary policy for dummies (almost everyone for some reason):


#2: I still enjoy Kottke's blog now and then but lately it's been a little hard to take anything he says seriously. He just refereed to an article ("Something is wrong on the internet") that is pure conspiracy theory. He also said in a recent post that "It was either shortly before or just after November 8, 2016 that I began to wonder whether I had died and gone to Hell."

I mean, he's gone beyond snowflake territory. He's become a snowflake parody.

1. Any broccoli-related news?

Ben *Thompson writes Stratechery.

#3 Where is the ouch? Britain has been a minor player since the second world war (which exhausted them as a nation). The United States is retreating into an incompetent isolationism (replacing the incompetence of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures.) - but that is obvious to the world.

China is trying to influence Pakistan and Bangladesh by pouring money in. They should ask UK and USA how that will work out. Saudi Arabia is stirring the pot by sending out radical Imams - nothing new there, or unique about South Asia. China is destined to have a confrontation with Islam and it is nothing to the West. In the meantime Pakistan and Bangladesh can play the Gulf against China squeezing both for money which will then be stolen by domestic elites.

India needs to get on with modernizing its society or they are going to be in trouble. That has been true for at least 70 years.

Where is the "ouch"?

The United States is retreating into an incompetent isolationism (replacing the incompetence of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures.)

Really? And where is this well of grand 'competence' in this world? In Scandinavia's no-go zones? In Frau Merkel's rapefugee hordes? In the French, Spanish, and Italian labor codes? In Russia's adventures in the Ukraine? In Japan's zero-growth economy? In Justin Trudeau's office?

Incompetent isolationism that’s generated over $3 trillion in new wealth from fracking while other countries perform the modern equivalent of looking to sheep entrails for guidance, America’s pending emergence as an energy exporter, a stock market up over 20% this year, two straight quarters of over 3% growth, consumer confidence the highest since 2000, labor participation rate recently at 42 month high, a wave of deregulation and tax reform looking likely.

More isolationism perhaps. Incompetence perhaps not.

#1 The writer seems to think the EU has all the power in the negotiation. Many Britons seem to think the same, which in itself is a reason to support Brexit on culural and democratic grounds. If Britons believe themselves as helpless as Catalans it's no surprise they similarly voted for independence.

A fair point, if one is an ideological Brexiteer. But how many who voted for Brexit are actually prepared to suffer?

If the EU is a truly benevolent organisation, then they will negotiate sensibly to minimise the damage to the EU and UK economies because of Brexit. In fact there could be zero damage by just continuing the current trade arrangements. If the EU is in fact not a benevolent institution but is more despotic and interested in its own survival ahead of any collateral damage (as most institutions are due to classic public choice reasons) and therefore will seek to punish the UK pour encourager les autres, then perhaps the UK is better off out despite any shorter term damage. I would not want to be in a country that is ruled by an institution that is willing to burn economies so it can survive.

Same argument applies to present UK government. Are they benevolent or just a bunch of politicians willing/risking to burn economies so they can survive?

Axa - I would hope that they would also be benevolent as well. You can be sure I will criticise them if they are not. I would bet though that the UK political leadership would be perfectly happy to stay in the single market if it was offered by the EU.

"by just continuing the current trade arrangements."

This shows an elementary misundetstanding of trade pacts, which by definition give members a better deal than non-members. You leave, you get less.

And whence this pathetic complaint about benevolence? Benevolence? Seriously? Who ever claimed benevolence? Pacts between govts are politics all the way down. How can they be anything else? Deals in general stand up not because the other party loves you., but because both sides benefit. If the UK wants out fine, but it then gets treated like an outsider.

And if you *opt* to go into a negotiation in which you are the weaker party, don't expect a happy result.

Brexit supporters claimed the EU was a net drain on Britain. Fine, if that's what you think, leave and see what it's like. But ChrisA's childish magical thinking is all too typical of Brexit supporters.

"And whence this pathetic complaint about benevolence? Benevolence? Seriously? Who ever claimed benevolence?" - wow, really? Dude, you are making the argument for me. I had hoped, I don't know, that leaders of countries could be nice to each other if we are friends and allies.

> wow, really? Dude, you are making the argument for me. I had hoped, I don’t know, that leaders of countries could be nice to each other if we are friends and allies.

They're not going to give away trade advantages, nor should they. Brexiteers wanted to Brexit because they believed there were better advantages to doing it that way. They should find those advantages. Those who disagreed voted against Brexit. The way to get treated benevolently is to agree to the EU's rules.

The whole point of Brexiting was that the trade deals would be better, not so the Brits could beg for the EU to take pity on them and give them the same trade deals they had before Brexit.

ChrisA the EU isn't a benevolent organization by any stretch of the imagination. A cursory glance at its interactions with other regions shows that it ruthlessly pursues its interests (something I'm well aware of as I'm not writing from an EU member state).

Which was an advantage for the UK when it was a member. But will be a problem after it leaves.

Loki - two points, first trade is not war. In trade the more you trade with a third party the better off you are. If the EU is intellectually opposed to such thinking, then the UK should not be part of it. Protectionism is not good economics and in the long run leads to poorer countries not richer ones. Second, if the EU is like a large local bully that we have to pay homage to if we don't want to get squashed is not a good argument to stay in. I don't want to be part of an entity that goes around beating up other countries even if I am better off. This is simple morals.

"In trade the more you trade with a third party the better off you are. " Refresh your understanding of trade theory.

""If the EU is intellectually opposed ". Stop right there. The EU is not a person. You cannot understand it, or a foreign government, like a person. You cannot ask, does it love me. You cannot ask, does it agree with me. You cannot ask, what is its ethical code. Action carried out by it may have *results" you can assess ethically, but that does not mean you can reason backward to a single ethical intelligence that generated them.

Foreign leaders put on little performances of smiling at each other because naive voters like that, but at no level is politics about who is your friend.

A trade bloc is a combination of an external tariff wall and elimination of internal tariffs. Of course, the tariff wall part is protectionist. Would the world be better off wihout such blocs and universal free trade? Absolutely. But in the absence of a universal awakening bringing love and enlightenment to all the people of the earth, the EU is not going away and the UK will be materially worse off outside it.

CD - I always will stand up to bullies. If the leaders of the EU can make it act in spiteful and vindictive ways to preserve their protectionist walls (as you describe them) then I want no part of it, even if in the short run it makes me worse off. To take an extreme example, it was probably worse for Eastern Germany in the short run to split off from the Soviet Bloc, but it was definitely the right decision for all sorts of reasons. If the EU wants to become like the Warsaw Pact and send (metaphorically) tanks onto the lawn of the UK to punish it for wanting to leave, then we should learn the lesson of history.

Fortunately I have a more sunnier view of human nature, especially I believe that the people of mainland Europe are mostly actually quite nice and friendly and wouldn't want a close ally and trading partner to be treated badly, even if it would satisfy the revenge fantasies of some small minority of them.

You know the best argument for the UK staying in the EU isn't actually the punishment one, its that the UK would have been an advocate of further liberalisation especially in trade, and without the UK the EU is likely to become less free. This is a serious concern for liberals like me, and perhaps would resonate better with liberals than arguing we had better be scared of the big bad EU monster and do what it says, even if it is wrong.

EU leaders are behaving entirely rationally, and in the best interests of their constituents.

Failing to offer a government the sweetheart trade deal it wants is not the same thing as occupying its country with tanks.

Are you an adult? If not, God bless you. If you are, you are going to get swindled, repeatedly, until you update your understanding of how institutions work. Sure, most people are nice enough, as long as they're comfortable. That doesn't matter.

#3 - how Southeast Asia views the USA/Russia was interesting, but frankly "Now this is what elites in Delhi, Islamabad and Dhaka " think is irrelevant, since these countries, aside from the nuclear missiles pointed at each other, are hardly powerhouses. Just guessing, I think their total GDP even PPP and certainly nominally is probably, combined, that of France alone. Who cares what the frogs think? At one point Greece with 10M people had a bigger GDP nominally than Pakistan with 180 M people.

You are living in the past. India itself has a total GDP (6th largest) in USD greater than France, and on PPP terms (3rd largest) is over 3 times larger than France.

@Adrian - Google it: France: 2.42T, India: 2.1 T, Pak: 0.27T, Bangladesh: 0.195T, do the math, as I said.

@Anon- India is usually lumped with the SE Asian countries, not "South Asia" which I believe even the Indians might find offensive.

For someone supposedly living in Philippines , surprising to confuse South East Asia with South Asia.

#1 - this journalist tweeting War & Peace will benefit from Twitter's new character limit, doubling the old limit.

Right, there will be only 16 posts instead of 31--that will fix things. I would elaborate but I have to go send my manuscript to my editor one page at a time via carrier pigeon (I'm smart though and write on both sides of each page!)

Yeah, I couldn't read that. Why someone thinks Twitter is a good platform for detailed cogent thought is beyond me.

"Chinese/Indian competition is the new USA/USSR competition"

This is amazing, but not surprising. It has become fashionable - especially in the 2008-2013 period - to talk about India and China as somehow comparable. As somehow locked in a "race to the top of the world" - as a BBC journalist once put it. People like Ben Judah - and one must give him credit for admitting that he is just repeating what he heard - often imagine a fantasy world where India and China are locked in a "race" to become a potential superpower. One being a "multi-party, vibrant, democracy", the other being a "single-party, authoritarian dictatorship".

It is the perfect trope. Just like the USA/USSR, India/China were portrayed as a race between two diametrically opposed political systems, the proverbial Good vs Evil. Democracy vs Dictatorship. The Land of Freedom vs the Land of the Oppressed. The trope has resulted in much money making, from books to seminars to long articles and white papers. Indian politicians also got taken in by it; with Jairam Ramesh coining the phrase "Chindia", a pathetic attempt to equate China's infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities with India's prowess in services and IT. Even Jeffrey Sachs said in 2000 that the call center employee was the "Face of India", perhaps not knowing that the Indian IT/BPO industry employs less than 2% of India's population. Even the garrulous Economist magazine called it "The Contest of the Century".

Yet - only 13-14 years into the century, and people are slowly starting to realize their folly. Fortunately, after 2013-14, such comparisons have reduced. Nobody talks about India and China as comparable any more. China was already ahead; but now the difference is so vast that even the pretext of any equivalence between these two countries cannot be justified.

As a side note: Similar comparisons were drawn in the 90s between Mumbai and Shanghai. Mumbai local politicians often used to brag that "Hum Mumbai ko Shanghai banaenge! i.e. "We will make Mumbai into Shanghai!" Such a promise would've been difficult to keep even if they meant it. But now, 25 years later, Mumbai today is not even where Shanghai was 15 years ago; so pathetic is the comparison. These days Mumbai politicians have realized that making such a promise would be too much of a lie - even by their standards. The famous Hindi phrase above is now mostly used by the media as a way to mock the government when there's a flood in Mumbai or a railway accident. Moreover, anyone who has visited Mumbai and Shanghai would know how stupid this sounds.

Even a cursory, school-child Google search would show that there if there ever was a race between India and China, China has already won. On almost every single metric of comparison, China is ahead. Education, healthcare, transport, digitization, inflation, crime, suicides, women's rights, sports, roads, urbanization, agriculture, water quality, cleanliness, tourism, soft power, military power, global influence, quality of governance, poverty, unemployment - you name it. One would be hard-pressed to find something that India does better than China (cricket maybe), except political rights. (the classic fallback arguments) - as if they were ends in themselves. Freedom of speech, for example, has done little good to the lives of Indians - as compared to Chinese - for the past 30 years. But the Indian government is content. It is a "democracy", after all, which earns good brownie points in the west. After all, what better way to eliminate poverty than giving people the right to complain about it?

But now you may argue that Ben Judah was talking about only influence in South East Asia. And you would be wrong. For even in that comparison China comes out ahead. China and Pakistan are as close as US and Israel. China has an influence in Sri Lanka that India can only dream of matching. India's border dispute with Bangladesh took 70 years to resolve. While China's border dispute with Myanmar was resolved in the 1950s - less than a decade after establishing diplomatic ties. There is no country in the region that India can call a true diplomatic ally, except maybe Bhutan, a country with less influence over global (or even regional) affairs than Westeros. India largely is the complainer of the region: it complains about Chinese investments in Pakistan, it complains about Hambantota in Sri Lanka, it complains about Chinese investment in Nepal, and so on - and yet offers little alternatives of its own. Somehow, India's neighbors are supposed to reject these Chinese investments for no other reason except that India doesn't like them.

I would provide links, but MR blocks comments with multiple links. But simple googling is all that is really needed. It's difficult to take India's claims to being comparable to China seriously when about 40% of the people in your most developed city live in slums, when your famed IT industry is largely a back office for doing service jobs, when you have thrice as many polluted cities in the global top 25 than China (even though your overall carbon emissions are lower), when your airports look like China's railway stations, when Huawei's R&D expenditure is more than that of Indian industry, when Microsoft spends more on R&D than your government, and when you have as many people literally defecating in the open as the populations of the US, UK, Canada, and France combined. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. India's superpower aspirations are more akin to a meme than reality.

A more accurate tweet would be: "Chinese/Indian competition is the new USA/Mexico competition"

But then this raises the extremely important question: why is such a canard being repeated so often by the western mainstream? Why is a (comparatively) dirt-poor, impoverished country like India being treated at par with China? Despite such overwhelming evidence, why are these two countries still considered equal? The answer is simple: This is reporting about China. You believe what you want to believe.


Couldn't have put it better myself.

Taking forward the USA/Mexico analogy - I work in a specialty plastics manufacturing business in India which is primarily exports oriented. Manpower as a %age of the cost structure is fairly high - 15%+. In the last couple of years, we've seen China growing increasingly non-competitive as their wages are high and getting higher (~150% higher than India for equivalent skills), and as we have scaled up and become more efficient, our raw material and fixed costs are better rationalized. We are adding more capacity while our Chinese competitors slow down and it seems to be an organic sustainable trend.

While I completely agree that China is decades ahead of India - I travel to China every 3 months or so - I believe India's time will come. In both manufacturing and services, it'll become more competitive to manufacture something in India rather than China or proxy-China (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia et al). And with China itself as a growing market, it should bode well for India's future.

I agree - India's future is bright. But that's the thing about this country: All good things in India happen only in the future.

If the Texas shooter had an iPhone the police could just point it at his face. So that's nice.

Why is a (comparatively) dirt-poor, impoverished country like India being treated at par with China?

1) The whole democracy vs dictatorship think, with Westerners having a vested interest in the former "succeeding"

2) India and China were similarly (though perhaps not identically) poor and backward through much of the 20th century, so it's not a stretch to think that the current Chinese surge is a temporary state of affairs, and that India can catch up if......

3) Indian and Chinese growth rates have been in the same ballpark since the 90s, and both have been astronomically higher than anything in the developed world. The difference lies in the fact that Chinese (government and citizenry both) have made much much better collective use of the national wealth gained through such growth.

Open question to you or to anyone else on this forum: it seems clear that Indian cities are backward s***h***** compared to Chinese cities (though I've personally only visited Beijing), but how big is the difference between the rural areas of both countries?

Also, the Chinese police state's ability to prevent impoverished rural citizens to move to cities seems to have given their cities a decided advantage over India. Please comment!

Sorry, forgot to close the italics tag at the end of the first sentence. Wish there were an EDIT button!

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