Saturday assorted links


Wow! The new layout and colors are just super ugly! Please revert!

1. Overtly Straussian! Or is that a contradiction?

1. One assumes that this does not apply to textbook authors - 'From the first sentence, The prisoners were dying of scurvy, typhoid fever, and smallpox, but nothing was killing them more than bad incentives. to the last, no other textbook teaches the economic way of thinking so well or so memorably.'

2. The new tax law no longer advantages mortgage interest deductions for majority of Americans. Will this increase or decrease black home ownership? I think increase, as doubling of standard deduction and child credits should make it easier to save for that down payment.

Dirty secret of old tax system was that bottom half of home owners couldn't itemize anyway. Most of the benefits went to expensive houses.

New law favors Working class families buying sub $150k homes.

I am sorry Tyler and Alex but I simply cannot read the new font and format. I mist be old but I cannot pick up the new posts on the iPhone without some serious squinting.

also on my ordinary computer the names of the commenters do not show up

4) "If you wish to help us conserve energy and save the planet by re-using your towel, please stow it in the bulkhead provided. Otherwise, leave it floating around in space and the staff will replace it for you."

I'd like to chime in about the design. Too much white space, too little content on screen -- this is a blog for people who read, and scan, surely. It should aim for a high density of information.

And on the phone it's worse, too-small text, and too-big indents for comment replies.

Surely these things can easily be tweaked.

I strongly agree. The new font, Open Sans, has wider letters compared to the previous one. This makes for too much white space. There is not enough contrast between the background and the body text (especially with hyperlinks); the page looks faded now. The use of serif font for block quotations is also regrettable.

Reading this blog almost every day for the past year, I've found it extremely easy to speed-read and scan. Now I'm going to get noticeably less content for my time. Very disappointing.

I'm starting to think this is a loyalty test, to see which of us put up with it to keep coming around.

Yes. You've put into words what I felt about all the white space. Seems like much more work to read quickly.
And is the font called "Whisper"?

#0. I've poor vision, and your gray font makes it significantly more difficult to read. Did you really pay someone to do this? Oh, wait: it's academia...never mind. I don't mind the inflation (expansion of white space) but my reaction to it is that the content is less serious, less...weighty.
#2. Is this a joke? What % of "black" hh today are single parent? And in 1968? What % are urban? etc. Bloviation which doesn't make any attempt at being scholarly.
#3. Another really bad although somewhat more balanced article. There are previous examples, so not significant new ground. Also, some people have tetrachromaticity...or so it has been reported. And I'll admit to being somewhat more of a fringer here, but it simply is NOT TRUE that people see red, green and blue. The color pigments (which, being part of a biological system (ie. containing multitudinous mutations) are just a small part of the picture) we are most sensitive to are violet, green and greenish-yellow (don't take my word for this, look it up but be careful in your examination of what they say vs. what the data actually is. Our pigments peak at ~430, ~540, & ~570 nm. ; look up the colors those correspond to. They are NOT "blue, green, and red".
Claiming that we "can't comprehend" something suggests either hyperbole or that the author should seek a job in which he is not expected to enlarge human understanding. There are different mechanisms, but to a first approximation the difference between fluorescence and phosphorescence is the decay time of the excited state. Fast fluoresces, slow glows. (did I just make that up!? nah, too obvious).
#4 pay-walled.
#6. Another silly one. Problem is probably what the system claims, compared to what it delivers. Given that arrival time must have some scatter/dispersion, then OF COURSE you'll often get to your destination early. In fact, the problem is the failure to keep the std dev (if that is the appropriate stat?) to within a reasonable % of trip time.

Seems that there are similarities in the subjects as to the inclusion or failure to include both errors of omission and errors of commission (Type I & type II errors).

I didn't clearly articulate that the color pigments absorb the light which leads to a cascade ending up with us "seeing" color. The pigments absorb over a range of frequencies/wavelengths, and how the brain decodes the input isn't simple nor straightforward. We see red through blue (some people see into the UV). I don't know how much research has been done with/on the tetrachromatics in our midst...Interesting to think about the possibilities though.

Color me confused. I didn't understand why the flourescing of the beak space meant to either the scientist or the reporter that those spaces were perceived as a different color to other puffins, than the color we see absent the shining of a UV light on the beak. Is he saying the puffins are able to perceive UV light while we can't, and that it must register to them as a new color unperceived by us?

Some rocks flouresce but not because they want other rocks to see them...


The new design is a great improvement; alas, the comments are pretty much the same as before.

1. Bullshit may not work so well for the investors in the companies with the executives who rely on bullshit, but it works well for the executives who are full of bullshit. I won't pick on Marissa Mayer and, instead, suggest a game of darts with any of the so-called tech companies.

4. Flying cars and spaceships to Mars, vanity projects promoted by owners of companies selling bullshit. What's in your wallet?

Because of course rayward likes the new design. Must have something to do with being a cradle Episcopalian.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is sublime. If I were not a cradle Episcopalean and of a certain age, I may never have known that Book.

6. In fact, the NYC subway makes you early, not late (NYT).

Waiting, mean and variance tend to be equal when stable, it is a quabtization effect.

. The subway imposes appointment book error due to unreliability. No appointment is reliable unless it allows for variable wait time, So appointments intervals get quantized and congested.

The proof is sort of simple.

Day to day commerce works, and people are not disappearing. So appointment queues must be stable or tending toward. Therefore, in units of time, the service rates meet the Poisson condition. But the subway variance being large and disconnected means the transaction interarrival must have grouped participants to meet the Poisson transaction rate needed. We would see the effect partly in the bakery. We would see groups congested at the coffee shops.

On Android: Text too small; font too light. Too much white space. If anyone cares.

why two "Respond" links at end of some comments ?

and why "Respond" rather then web standard "Reply" prompt ?


So many confounding variables. Companies in dominant market positions generally do not trumpet earnings due to regulatory fear. Actually any company with regulatory fear has a strong incentive to understate earnings. Many companies do not like to disclose great earnings in case it hurts sales negotiations.

3. Most insects, birds, and many fish can see well into the ultraviolet range. They use it to display gender (sexual dimorphism is more common than we thought). We mammals are blind compared to many species.

Probably why most people don't like the redesign

Outstanding. So the puffin bit was yet another Straussian take.

How many "normal" people (i.e. not a musician, critic, or college DJ) are there on the planet who have actually listened to a Cecil Taylor recording from beginning to end in the past year?

My guess is less than a thousand.

The number of jazz albums in any style which are regularly listened to by more than a thousand civilians out side the field in any given year is probably quite small. For decades, jazz records have made up about 2% of the albums sold in the relatively few markets worldwide in which they sell any measurable percentage of the total albums consumed. With the exception of a few albums made by a handful of jazz artists from the hundred years of jazz performance, very few jazz albums are listened by more than 1,000 people in a given year.

But, then there's very very little music of any kind, including that which is is routinely listened to by many millions of people, is actively listened to by far less than 0.01% of the world's population. There are nearly 8 billion people on earth, and an extremely small number of songs, let alone complete "albums" (whatever that means in the current era) are listened to by even 100 million people.

So what's your point?

Can’t speak for Z but my point would be that whatever ‘popularity’ Taylor and more generally avant-garde ‘music’ enjoyed in the 70s has evaporated to become a footnote in history. Now only horror movie soundtracks provide anything close.

Hreb you couldn't be more wrong with that last part.

The US alone turns out 5-6 big pop songs every year that well over 100 million people listen to worldwide. And not just the US, how many people heard 'Despacito'?

What part of my statement “an extremely small number of songs... are listened to by even 100 million people” is contradicted by your statement about “The US alone turns out 5-6 songs every year that well over 100 million listen to?”

Do you have any idea how many tens of thousands of OTHER non-big pop songs “in the US alone” are NOT listened to by as many as 100million+ people?

Most music is heard by a tiny fraction of the people living on this planet. The small number of “big pop songs” only raise the average audience size by an infinitesimal fraction.

2 is just insane. It is a great example of the Leftist refusal to accept that Democrat voters have any agency and everything is the fault of someone else.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a U.S. government agency, had been racist as hell since it’s beginning in 1934. They wouldn’t guarantee mortgage loans in black neighborhoods. It’s called redlining.

OK. So let's accept that the Feds have been racist as hell. But notice that Redlining is more complex than they say. It actually preserves Black neighborhoods. It prevents gentrification. The ban was not on lending to Blacks but to anyone who wanted to buy in Black areas. So some of the best parts of the richest cities in the world were in effect reserved for Black people. It is nice to own a house, but it is also nice to have a cheap view of San Francisco bay.

Immediately after outlawing housing discrimination in 1968, the new and soon to be infamous Section 235 program in the 1968 HUD Act let low-income, white and black home buyers get FHA mortgages with down payments of only $200 and some only paid 1% interest on their mortgages.

So the Feds are racists because they used tax payers money to allow poor people to buy homes? Well that is an unusual and refreshing point of view.

Washington pushed local FHA offices hard to increase their lending in the inner cities so many offices relaxed their inspection and underwriting standards for inner-city mortgages.

As everyone knows many Blacks are poor risks. So the Feds had to push banks to lend. How is this a bad thing?

FHA appraisers would overestimate the value of the houses and banks would lend the money knowing FHA guaranteed they’d get paid back 100% after any foreclosures.

Would they now? I would like to see the evidence of this, but if it is true, it was a fallacy shared by people like LBJ who thought that making sure Blacks owned their own homes would transform the ghetto. In fact this article quoted him saying as much. That is hardly racism.

The new homeowners would soon find out the houses needed lots of expensive repairs they couldn’t afford. Having only put $200 down (often paid by the sellers) and looking at huge repair expenses, many of the new defrauded homeowners walked away. (McClaughry, 1975.)

Sorry but the *homeowners* take tax payers money, refuse to pay the loan, walk away and *they* are the ones being defrauded? It is odd how those same houses suddenly do not need a lot of repairs when gentrifiers buy them. In fact a Brownstone magically changes from being a slum property to being worth millions - if only you change the owners.

FHA would slowly foreclose and then leave the houses abandoned for long periods of time. Many abandoned houses were completely vandalized which hurt inner-city neighborhoods.

They left them vacant because ..... ? They are Evil Slum Lords Who Hate Blacks? Or because no one in their right mind wanted to live in those neighborhoods? Notice the lack of an active participant in that last sentence. Houses were vandalized. As if it was by Magic!

By 1972 in Detroit, for example, FHA had already foreclosed on 35% of the mortgages they made in 1968 in one program.

Proving what? Red lining was sensible?

So, four months after the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the U.S. government took bold, historic action with the 1968 HUD Act which backfired spectacularly and ended up leaving many black homeowners and neighborhoods worse off.

So Red lining was a good idea? Yeah, giving people free money often does not work. People who have middle class values are often middle class. People who have underclass values do not gain middle class values simply because you give them a house. But of course it everyone else's fault.

the FHA is constantly pushing to make riskier mortgages.

Because many minorities are poor risks. We all know this. So the only way to end disparities in home ownership is to push for riskier lending. Does anyone dispute this?

The FHA foreclosure rate went from O.5% in the early 1950s to a 12% foreclosure start rate from 1975 to 2013,

It is strangle. It is almost as if forcing banks to lend to minorities leads to riskier loans which leads to more foreclosing. The victim here is, of course, the tax payer.

Those high numbers of foreclosed families shouldn’t be considered acceptable collateral damage in a (spectacularly failed) government effort to increase homeownership.

Indeed. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And instead of bleating about racism, people need to recognize these were good intentions. And vote buying of course.

High numbers of foreclosures can also devastate whole neighborhoods – not just the FHA homeowners in neighborhoods but all the homeowners in high foreclosure neighborhoods.

Chicken or egg? Does anyone really believe this causation?

FHA guaranteed far too risky mortgages and that hurt neighborhoods and the individual borrowers who got in over their heads.

So banks should lend to fewer Blacks?

High foreclosure mortgages help explain why the black homeownership rate isn’t any higher today than it was 50 years ago when the 1968 Fair Housing Act was passed.

Chicken or egg? Seriously? How can anyone believe this? Banks are lying in wait to trap unsuspecting minority borrowers?

One more surprising data point. The black homeownership rate was 35% in the 1950 census and 42% in the 1970 census.

How is this news to anyone? Family break down causes all sorts of social disruption and the Great Society programs caused massive family break down in Black communities. The Left tried to help but only made things worse. Time to stop helping.

The fact is the tough love of the pre-1968 years gave Black communities some of the best real estate in America - virtually for free. It also gave Black communities higher and rising levels of home ownership. Sure it is nice to own a home. But it is also nice in live in on Manhattan - even at the cost of living with the rest of the underclass.

Well no, the short version would be that, yet again, you do not bother to understand before you criticize.

However the other tl;dr version would be that many Blacks have been dealt a bad hand, made worse by the bad choices of a non-trivial number, and the well meaning efforts of Liberals have made everything worse.

But that is a complicated and nuanced position so I do not expect you to understand.

The gap between what you understand and reality is pretty wide.

Which would be interesting if it were relevant. Which it is not.

What it means is that you are having your butt kicked in an argument with someone with a poor grasp on reality. For shame.

Nothing I said is remotely untrue and the fact that you have to resort to childish name calling like a twelve year old proves it.

Respond! Respond! Respond!

#2. I think we're missing the forest for the trees here.

The 1970 Census also says the home ownership rate overall was 62.9%. Black ownership was 41.6%, and Hispanic was 43.7%. (

Scroll up to 1990 on the same page, 64.2% overall, 43.4% Black, 42.4% Hispanic.

Today (, rates are, respectively, 64.2%, 42.1%, 46.6%.

In other words, you can narrowly focus on Black home ownership not budging despite a government program nominally intended to help them, and then construct an anti-government program by simply saying, "Look, it's the same!"

Or, you can zoom out a bit and notice that ALL home ownership rates haven't much changed since the 1970s.

Perhaps there's a confounding factor, a larger overriding issue depressing home ownership growth (or more accurately, keeping ownership rates fairly steady) since the 1970s, such that *nobody* is getting ahead.

Here's a different frame you could construct: It's almost like the economy kept growing, but the average person is no longer seeing those returns to growth. This is particularly poignant when you consider their last few lines:

"One more surprising data point. The black homeownership rate was 35% in the 1950 census and 42% in the 1970 census. That means despite FHA redlining and rampant housing discrimination against blacks in the United States during most of that time, the black homeownership rate actually increased 20% from 1950 to 1970.

But somehow, the black homeownership rate is the same today as it was in 1970."

What was happening between 1950-1970? Broad-based improvements in standards of living for every American, as the rising tide lifted all boats. What hasn't happened since 1970? That same across-the-board improvement for every household.


Now, there's obviously a lot of other potential confounding issues, like median housing sizes now vs. then, building safety now vs. then, etc, so a much more rigorous analysis would be needed to actually conclude anything.

But it does go to show how you can use even accurate statistics to cherry-pick any political point you want to.

Reslice the data for households of the same composition.

Good point.

The point I didn't make on that was that whites may be bouncing around a natural maximum homeownership rate - people in their 20s don't own a lot of homes and other stage-of-life reasons for renting. Other reasons.

But I would have thought there would be a lot more potential for blacks to increase their homeownership since they were starting from a lower level. I would have guessed in 1968 that the gap between black and white homeownership would be much smaller or gone 50 years on.

1. I don't think investors are that gullible. A few quarters of lousy earnings and people start to sell.

Another test comment

6: it's similar in Los Angeles, as the traffic continues to worsen. I finally learned that even after increasing my estimated time needed to drive across the city, I needed to add an additional 20 minutes, just because. So I would frequently show up 20 minutes early, and my friend would say I thought you'd be here at 7 and I said that in order to be on time, I had to be 20 minutes early.

But those New Yorkers are talking about adding 30-60 minutes to their travel estimates. That's a big chunk of time out of the day.

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