Tuesday assorted links

1. “Dolce & Gabbana used drones to carry handbags down the runway instead of models.

2. The Uchida concert.  It was remarkable how many people I know I bumped into there.

3. Bryan Caplan responds on education.  I say businesses can simply use and encourage cheaper methods of signaling for potential employees.  You don’t need “new and weird” systems, rather there is already considerable diversity within higher education and quantities can shift in the interests of economization.  From another corner, Taleb reviews his reviewers.

4. What is mood?: a computational perspective.

5. How is the Sidewalk Labs Toronto waterfront project going?

6. “Is it possible to have too much focus on history?


Taleb knows how to wind up all the right people anyway.


His publishers failed so bad when sent his book for review to "people who make a verbagiastic living".

Taleb's reply was masterful. Attacking the gasbags isn't easy sport but he does it very well.

@ #1 - must we drone on and on about drones?! It's like the new internet...drone on. I'm waiting for drones to cost $25 before I buy one to take photos.

I'm just thinking what the cred would be if you show up to the event with a drone carrying your handbag, staying nearby within reach, and not letting anyone else touch it. Bonus points for dressing the drone to coordinate with your outfit and the handbag.

I "flew" a drone a few months ago. It was fantastic fun. Highly recommended.

6. Gawd, what a bore. The problem is that fragments of history are collated (and sometimes invented) to justify a latter-day political narrative which is false in essence.

The problems faced by black Africans, North American blacks, Caribbean blacks, Gran Colombian blacks, and Brazil's negroid population are dissimilar one to another. That aside, in the new world, 'oppression' is not the order of the day, though elements of neglect are. (And, in this country, black politicians are implicated in the social forces which give rise to neglect). Blacks don't need to be 'liberated'. They might benefit from better public services, but that piques the interest of black pols only when mo' jobs for bourgeois blacks is part of the deal.

I'm on penis patrol!

6. Well, knowledge of history can be a handicap in the construction of unrealistic fantasies, if that is your goal (as it often seems to be Tyler's).

5. At this point Google seems more comically invasive than dangerous. Shortly after I leave, "Would you like to rate your experience at Costco?" Seriously, Google? What are you even thinking ..

But sure, the AI behind "rate your experience at Costco" is ready to pilot unmanned cars down my street.

It's worrying that these guys are developing autonomous vehicles ;) https://twitter.com/mombot/status/968357850186768385

I say businesses can simply use and encourage cheaper methods of signaling for potential employees.

Then why haven't they?

Because they shoulder zero percent of the costs of college?

That overstates the case, I think. College grads still cost more, so if you had screening of comparable quality to college, you'd save money if it were cheaper than whatever salary premium you end up paying.

Its just that the premium for grads is not high enough, most of the cost is distributed.

"5. How is the Sidewalk Labs Toronto waterfront project going?"

Apparently it was a PR stunt, and it's gone accordingly.

#3 - " From another corner, Taleb reviews his reviewers."

"I instructed publishers to send the book to only doers, not people who make a verbagiastic living."

Hmmm, did Tyler get a copy?

Would Taleb have gotten a copy of his own book?

That was uncalled for, even if it is true. Even more so for being true,

There are many billions of people in the world.
The billions of poor people who never had a chance to be rich do not look at someone like Taleb and think - there goes someone who has made it on his own, as I could have! and look at, say, a professor who looks an awful lot like Taleb - say, Cowen, and think - why, that person must never have had skin in the game! He did not make it on his own, like Taleb!

I think Taleb is approximately as smart as he thinks he is and I think the same about Tyler. At that level of intelligence - and, believe me or not, I can confidently say it is better than one in a thousand, because I have known thousands of people doing real things in the real world - there is no such thing as people who cannot freely say what they want to say. There are people who are too nice or too shy or too p/w'd or too morally deficient or too imbued with the sin of flattery to say what they want to say. That being said, while I agree with Taleb on almost every major issue he disagrees with Cowen about (Taleb is pro-life, profoundly dismissive of the excesses of academic libertarianism, and would have gladly voted for Trump; Tyler, to his discredit, not so much) - I am not sure that Taleb, who made his money as a privileged entrant into the financial markets of a Western world that neither he nor I created, is so much more of a "doer" than lots of the people he considers "not-doers".

Having recently been harshly criticized by a local denizen for my prose style (or my rhetorical level - the critic was rather angry and not all that accurate, sadly) I would like to amend the above comment. "That being said" was the wrong transitional phrase to what I actually wrote (it was of course the correct transitional phrase to what I wanted to write - but C.S. Lewis had a good list of prose tips and the first was - make your sentence mean what it says and not seem to possibly say something else.)

So, please change "that being said" to "Anyway", which means exactly what I want it to mean in that spot.

And if you are angry that you read a 200 word comment, and now wish you hadn't, and are now even more annoyed that I took a 100 words to correct 3 words: feel free to take time from your day to tell me I am witless or stupid. After all, that is your right. Let us hope that, generations from now, university students will not be assigned my comment (and your criticisms) as a reading assignment in the (by-then) ancient languages of today, or even, God forfend, an assignment in epigraphics.

finally, if English is not your native language, you might be interested in this
--- denizen means someone who lurks, in either a good way or bad way, in a particular neighborhood.

(or ...) at the beginning of the first parenthetical at 9:10 PM relates back to "my prose style" - so the phrase, in basic English, a language I do not generally speak, would be( [crticized] for my prose style or my rhetorical level - the critic was not accurate [enough] sadly [for me to distinguish between the two alternatives].

a "transitional phrase" is always followed by the words that follow that phrase, so while you might think (as a non-English reader) that "the correct transitional phrase to what I wanted to write next" makes more sense than "the correct transitional phrase to what I wanted to write": while you might think that, you would be wrong. There is no possibility that I wanted to say "the correct transitional phrase to what I wanted to write from the beginning" as opposed to " the correct transitional phrase to what I wanted to write [next]". This is not really a subtlety of English, qua English, it is more simply the way languages in which the context is pre-assumed function. In English, it takes the forms of lots of clarifying words seeming to be left off the end of the sentence, which seems counterintuitive because English has so many helping words. Why do they have them if they leave them out so often? Well, figure out why it is not counterintuitive and you will understand English a lot better. (not "a lot better than anything", just " a lot better " . See how it works?

In Latin, it takes the form of words often seeming to be in a less than intuitive order (they are not). In the Slavic languages, the parallel shortcut is that way expressions are put into the third personal plural with an instrumental noun, whenever possible, to include (within the concept of instrumental nouns) instrumental nouns that are the equivalent of a verbal noun (our friends the gerunds and gerundives flock around this distinction, so easy to grasp for a native, or a fellow Slav, so difficult for almost everybody else. ) To a native it is perfectly natural. (When teaching Latin, it is useful to explain expressions like "ad medelam percipiendam" - "ad caelum admirandum" - a grammatical construction that does not exist in English - as rhyming answers learned as the specific two-word - always two word - explanations for the question - why?, to what purpose? a question the typical Roman of the old days probably was asked a dozen times a day, in always varying contexts. Why take the medicine? towards healing grabbing! why go outside? towards sky admired! - it is a sort of verbal music that has been lost, but that was so easy to learn if you lived back then.

p/w'd is pronounced pee dubbl yewd, pronounced quickly, and it means c*** azotado.

a 100 words is pronounced " a hundred words", not "a one hundred words". "a 200 word comment" is pronounced "a two hundred word comment".

"God forfend" is not what people usually say, they usually say "God forbid". It is almost always "jocular", but not when I say it. I said "God forfend" because that is less likely to make people think I was being jocular (and more likely to dislike me if they dislike people who talk that way in a way that is not "jocular" - and, by the way, if someone describes themself as "jocular", they are probably not aware that they are probably boring. You will be insulting to someone in America if you tell them you consider them "jocular". Stick to "you make me laugh": and, by the way, avoid "you're a funny guy.".

And nobody says "let us hope that" instead of "let's hope that" unless they recognize that people know that they are the sort of person who says "let us hope", which is more Biblical English than "let's hope." "The night is beautiful and God is good" - 50 years ago beautiful was often a four syllable word, it is now generally three (Beee-yoo-ti-ful as opposed to byoo -ti -ful). You can live in America for decades and not know that, but I know that, and now you do too. Like you, I remember a lot of things. Thanks for reading. (That was Wallace Stevens, by the way, a good line from a great poem. And ....)

> Thanks for reading.

Thanks for writing.

Final comments -if you are learning English and can't quite get the "helper words" right , that is, all those different meanings for those words that trail ahead of and behind our nouns and verbs, like of and get and that and the and what and better and worse and from and out, spend a few hours learning Dutch phrases. You will almost immediately see what Dutch and English have in common and most other languages don't when it come to "helper words", and it will all pop into focus, like you wouldn't believe (i esli vi rodillsa v Rossii, zvyawzdi naverkhoo napominali instrumentalnim padezhom).
Also, don't believe what anyone tells you for free on the internet, if it is worth knowing it is worth double-checking. You can trust me, but you don't know that, so double-check.

Joel - my pleasure. I am now up to 33 percent on the thanks/vituperation scale for this month, so I will quit while I am ahead!

2. Accomplished Japanese pianists are highly efficient, and flawless in their craft. Yet. Yet. Am I alone? A few missed notes, a stumble here or there. Nobody but other accomplished pianists would notice. And it would be music to my/their ears. Markets aren't perfect, and pianists shouldn't be either. Perfection is a flaw.

3. Isn't this a debate about average, and order. Sure, higher education is mostly about signaling for the average student who just wants a job. But so what: not everyone can be a Tyler Cowen or Bryan Caplan (i.e., above average). And if the signaling produces a job for the average student, it's great for her and great for society (order and stability). And who knows, sometimes the average produce well above average. No, average isn't over, not unless society wishes to abandon the average. [Intelligence is distributed normally, and distributed normally not only as a whole but in each grouping up the intelligence scale. I'd like to think I place above average, but so does everyone, which is impossible. Average in my law school class was well above average in my undergraduate class. Average in Cowen's Harvard grad school class was well above average in his undergraduate class at GMU. Without average, where would Cowen and Caplan stack up? Average.]

I don't think I was ever in a university class where the average standard was as high as in the maths class in my final year of secondary school.

That's probably not a bad thing: I was probably more open to intellectual influence from my classmates and teacher when I was 17 than when I was older. And for what it's worth the worst teaching to which I have ever been subjected was, by a million miles, a post-graduate mathematics course. He shoulda been shot.

Since Uchida moved to Europe at 12 and is naturalized British, I would say she's more European in culture than Japanese. I doubt her flawlessness is mostly a product of her having been born in Japan.

3b - Taleb is exactly the sort of whiny fragile buffoon who thinks you need to be invited to review his work. His hypocrisy (the ultimate BS vendor calling himself a "BS buster") verges on self-parody.

he is, however, in his buffoonery, the most Trumpian intellectual around. so I guess it shouldn't be surprised he's selling.

At least Taleb uses his own name he doesn't hide behind a pseudonym, small pusillanimous coward.

If I said things as dumb as Taleb does, I'd get even more pseudonymous. I'd change my username constantly. Although Taleb's laughable attempts at acting like a tough guy might be too transparent for that.

Hey, Nassim, want to try to tell people you look like a bodyguard again?

I’ll read him. Why? He’s interesting. And I might learn something. (I’m in History and I have a lot to learn about stats, and probability, and frankly, reasoning.)

Besides, many other thinkers are falling over themselves to work pages of Trump bashing into their work and Taleb is too independent to do that.

The problem is that he isn't particularly interesting. At his best he's just parroting what smarter people already said and claiming it as original. At his average he's just launching bizarre hypocritical insults at large swaths of people.

And yeah, of course he wouldn't bash Trump. Everything in Taleb is straight out of the Trump rhetorical playbook. Blustering, crude attempts at acting like a tough guy, trying to demean his opponents through insults instead of engagement? Duh.

1. Well good. No matter how thin a model is or how powerful a drone is, it's still too dangerous.

6. That essay fits perfectly with the comments made to David Brooks by the students at elite colleges. Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I would revise it to read: "Those who do not understand the past cannot make a better future."

". . . David Brooks by the students at elite colleges . . ." Blind leading the blind.

Is a better future possible?

I was away for an hour or so listening to the new Fed Head, Powell. Dem congressmen, think Keith Ellison, are even more [fill-in-the-blank] than the typical MR commenter.

That being said, Sell!

Mr Powell was a saint sitting through the *horrible* comments by many democrats during his testimony.

Tyler showed up to the Uchida concert dressed like a homeless man

a propos #3: I didn't realize until today that a key corollary of Caplan's argument is that we should repeal child labor laws. After all, a high school education comes with a huge opportunity cost for a high school student according to Caplan, "even if it just crowded out his leisure time." But presumably he could find something more productive than leisure to spend that time on -- and in our brave new libertarian world, he may have no choice! His labor may not be worth much, but a repeal of the minimum wage law will help him find his appropriate place.

Contemporary libertarian scholarship: cracking the Overton window open, one book at a time.

There are rational arguments for scrapping high school, with their atomization and extended adolescence, that are not dependent on political affiliation.

#3 Why does it cost to much to educate a university student? Seems, considering how well they are filtered like it should be cheap, cheaper than educating elementary students. I think it is because people are buying a signal.

Or maybe it is cheap and all the expense is for the research, but in that case why do we more papers about Shakespeare?

Uchida really does Schubert well. Would have loved to have bumped into you all there, Tyler, but off in California visiting grandkids.

#4. So, this "free energy" which this paper presupposes: I wonder how you reconcile that with thrill seeking and arousal? Seems to me, in my profound ignorance, to be contradicted by even perfunctory observations of actual behavior. Authors admit to their approach being hierarchical which, I'd guess, is the problem. The brain/mind is both hierarchical and recursive. The feedbacks have feedbacks and the agonists have antagonists which have agonists and antagonists; not to mention it works in parallel multi-threaded modes most of the time. Ascribing a single "mood" to our mind is just as silly (in my ignorant view) as ascribing one motivation to a political party. I do like their idea of Bayesian priors and "hyperpriors"...but they certainly exist at differing levels of mental organization so it isn't clear that at the level of "mood" that Bayesian priors have much mechanistic value.
#6. No, Tyler. It is NOT possible to have too much focus on .... History, the Future, Current Events, Science, the Arts, Sex, Money, Appearance, Results, Process, etc. etc. etc. etc. (sarcasm). Definitely a swing and a miss here. But let me pose a counterfactual question. If we could know/predict both individual human nature AND group (collective) behavior without the case studies history provides then would we need (to teach) History at all? Seems to me that one of the current problems in the USA is our overindulgence on explaining the present and our "remedies" for the future by pointing to history as justification. Few black Americans have ever been slaves (i.e. legally or physically the property of another person or corporate entity) and yet 150 years after Emancipation (what is that? 7 generations?) we're still dragging the tired meme out as if it had explanatory power. I'm not paying attention to the literature, but what struck me (WASP) about the movie was it's American perspective. The Wakandan soldiers were a thinly veiled metaphor for the single-mom black home, right? Is this also true in Africa, I wonder...

#5: real estate development is medium-long term issue.

Completing this single project will be as long as developing 3 android versions. who in the company will sacrifice himself in a slow turnaround project when they are sexier opportunities?

#5 ... to early to judge any aspect of this project. At the end of the day it is a real estate development project and must be given those type of timelines...decades....

2. Holy signaling Tyler! I saw Uchida when I was about 12 years old at Severance Hall. That concerts stands out of the dozens that I went to at Severance Hall due to her grace at the piano. The vast amount of culture that my parents exposed me to and how ignorant I was of it at the time astounds me.

It is pretty interesting article about the mood. I've discovered for myself some new ideas.

Comments for this post are closed