Thursday assorted links


#6: Is there a way to help the Nazis in a good way?

Yes. Brazil pretended to support the Nazis to extract concessions from them and then turn against them. We supported them like the rope supports a hanged man.

"Yes. Brazil pretended to support the Nazis..."

Clearly you can never trust Brazilian.

If you are Hitler, you can't trust neither Brazil not Schindler. If you are Stalin or Chamberlain, you can not trust Hitler.

Please see "the Visitor" and note the cotton tail effects.

Looked very hip and upbeat, very happy. I may have to watch that movie. But it is hard to get past the fact that they were stealing and depend on taking from others. So is the sole purpose of making the movie happy and upbeat to somehow lull us into believing that it's fine for "visitors" to depend on taking from the productive? Maybe we should have more visitors until the productive are bankrupt and unable to produce. Then what? Venezuela style economy and society???

Many countries know how to balance economic eficiency and social responsability. The Scandinavians, Brazil, Scotland. Venezuela has been a sick society for decades, hence Chavez's coup atempt in the 1990's and Chavism early popularity. It is a grim lesson for people who think they can loot a society without falling prey to even stronger looters. Let us remember that early 90's Venezuela, early 90's Argentina and Salinas' Mexico were held as examples of economic liberalization for Brazil. Now we see who was right and who was wrong.

There is indeed. It's Hitler. He killed himself. Although his timing ...

There is indeed. It's Hitler. He killed himself. Although his timing ...

(These long respond lines make me fuehrerious)

#6. It's a little wierd how a piece of investigative journalism is being framed as a scientific paper. It has a methods section (we read archival documents) and a results section (this is what we found out). Am I unique in finding this odd?

Maybe Prof. Cowen had little interest in the Guardian?

Which is a bit blunter in talking about the 'research findings' - 'In a joint statement, the editors of Molecular Autism – Simon Baron-Cohen, Ami Klin, Steve Silberman and Joseph Buxbaum – said they welcomed the fact that Czech’s “meticulous research” had finally thrown light on decades of scepticism about Asperger’s claims that he had taken a caring approach to his patients.

“The degree of Asperger’s involvement in the targeting of Vienna’s most vulnerable children has remained an open and vexing question in autism research for a long time,” they wrote in a joint statement.

At the time the term Asperger syndrome was first coined in London in 1981, by Dr Lorna Wing, they added, “She and we as scientists and clinicians, as well as the broader autism community, were unaware of Hans Asperger’s close alliance with, and support of, the Nazi programme of compulsory sterilisation and euthanasia.”'

The research paper is the original source, which is better.
I just thought it was awkwardly shoehorned into a scientific paper format. No big deal, just a little wierd.

I completely agree with you, Hazel.

And also, what does that even mean : "Future use of the eponym should reflect the troubling context of its origins in Nazi-era Vienna" ? Not even sure what "eponym" refers to in this sentence. Does that mean that we have to raise the arm in the manner of the Nazi salute each time we pronounce "Asperger"? Or what?

Maybe they are saying stop calling it Asperger's syndrome, since we don't really want to honor someone that cooperated with the Nazi regime.

Plus, as South Park pointed out, naming a condition characterized by social awkwardness 'ass-burgers' is just cruel.

Maybe. The would be quite Orwellian, but in line with our times. Next Yercinia Pestis will get a new name because of its discovery in the context of colonial Indochina, etc.

Notice that Guardian article does what the Left does a lot these days - smear with innuendo but very little evidence.

In fact if you read it closely it does look like Asperger was exactly what he said he was - someone who cared about his patients and tried to help them. His crime seems to be that while he tried hard to make the argument that some mentally ill people could make a positive contribution - in itself an unusual statement at the time - he recognized that some could not and needed to be kept in an asylum. Well, so what? That is pretty much obvious.

That he did send some patients to another hospital, under orders from the government, also seems undeniable. And that hospital turned out to be murdering them. Did he know? The fact that the Guardian does not quote anything he wrote that suggests he knew probably means that he did not. They would if they could. Nor do they quote him praising Hitler or even anything obviously anti-semitic.

In other words Asperger does seem to be one of the less culpable doctors of the time.

So it is shades of the Guardian smearing the Bushes for helping a refugee from the Nazis.

6. If Trump takes us down the path of authoritarianism and then collapses of his own considerable weight, will those who supported him be referred to as Trumpists or Americans? It's always struck me as nonsense that we refer to the barbarians in Germany as "Nazis" rather than the Germans that they actually were. I suspect Americans who supported Trump will get a pass too. After all, if the Italians (Romans) can be given a pass for killing Jesus, surely Trumpists will too.

So basically you believe in collective guilt then? All Germans should feel guilty about the things that only some of them did. If that's the case, then all communists should feel guilty about the purges and the Ukranian famine, and the Cultural Revolution, right?

I believe moderate Republicans are supposed to feel guilty about the Cultural Revolution, because they won't privatize Social Security, or something.

If you're not with us, you're against us. You love Hillary, just admit it.

"All Germans should feel guilty about the things that only some of them did."

All Huns are guilt. It was their refime who did those things.
"If that's the case, then all communists should feel guilty about the purges and the Ukranian famine, and the Cultural Revolution, right?"
Those things are always brought up as points against communism, right?

She isn't boring enough. In 2020 "boring" is going to be the closer.

"All Germans should feel guilty about the things that only some of them did"?, you ask rhetorically. Of course not, but the point is that almost all Germans (living at that time, of adult age, especially male) dod those things to some extent. For example, most of the valid men were in the army which, even leaving apart massacres and war crimes, invaded many neutral countries.

And the argument that the Germans were forced to do this does not hold water : consider for instance the pockets of German troops that Eisenhower left behind him in Western Europe in 1944-1945. They were sometimes cities (like la Rochelle, Dunkirk, Royan, Saint-Nazaire), sometimes Islands (the Channel Islands, Oléron, etc.) sometimes entire countries (like the Netherland) where a significant German armed force were encircled and cut from any supplying, in particular from supplying in ammunitions. This means that they have enough ammunition for may be one day of intense fight in open field, or for a longer fight if they stayed cover and acted defensively, and so could not constitute a strategic danger for allied troops. So Eisenhower let them stay where they were and kept advancing toward and then inside Germany. Well, none of those garnisons capitulated without first being heavily attacked (e.g. by French troops, acting for signaling they were liberating their own country rather than for true military reasons), or before May 8, 1945 (some capitulated even later!). Of course, they were isolated from the rest of Nazi forces, they had nothing to loose and a lot of fighting and risk to avoid by capitulating immediately when they were cut off, in the summer of 1944 (for my examples in France; somewhat later for the others): but they didn't -- none of them -- not before April or May 1945.

German soldiers should do what soldiers should do. You cannot criticize a soldier for doing his duty. Very well as it turns out.

You also have to make two distinctions: between what people knew then and what they knew now as well as between ordinary obedience and immoral obedience.

Those soldiers probably did not know very much. Yes, they probably knew Jews were not having a nice time but that does not mean they knew about Auschwitz.

As for invading neutral countries, everyone does this. Would we hold it against them if they were, say, Israeli? Well Israel does have a history of invading its neighbors without proper legal declarations of war. Every now and then they massacre civilians too. But they do so within the general framework of what is normal for a state. Which the Nazis did not. They went way beyond it.

So how many Germans did their duty in a reasonable state of ignorance within the frame work of acceptable behavior? I would think most of them. We should not insist that blood is on their children's heads for the next 2000 years.

Israël never invaded or militarily attacked a neutral country, nor any country with whom it was not already in a state of war due to a prior declaration of war and/or attack against Israel by that country.
You completely invented that and would be incapable to give an example.

Reminder: the war between Israël and its neighbors began in 1948, when those attacked Israël. Israël is still at war with Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, since no peace treaty with any of them was ever signed, nor even officially considered by those three countries. For instance, this is what wikipedia says on Iraq/Israel relations : "Iraq and Israel do not have any formal diplomatic relations as the former does not recognize the latter. Iraq declared war on the newly established Jewish state in 1948 and since then the relations between the two states have remained hostile at best. Iraqi forces also participated in the subsequent wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973." Also in 1991 Iraq sent scuds on Israel, who didn't reply.

The same situation applied for Egypt until 1979 and for Jordan until 1994. Now Israel is at peace with those two countries, has never attacked them since these years, and never will unless attacked first.


I love you, man. I sort of know what you're going through. My wife's brother-in-law - he's also a lawyer - is entering early-stage Alzheimer's or dementia.

That being said, you get a pass for comparing Trump and his supporters to Hitler and the SS.

Rayward wrote: "If Trump takes us down the path of authoritarianism"...

What do you mean "IF"!? You tell us every second day it's de facto the case!

You can't backtrack now. You own Derangement.

"All Germans should feel guilty about the things that only some of them did."

Of course. It was not just "some", it was "most" or "nearly all"

"all communists should feel guilty about the purges and the Ukranian famine, and the Cultural Revolution, right?"

Goodness yes. If one is a Communist in 2018, then you are an historic fool.

Maybe if one is going to identify tribally and defend the tribe's interests then one has to likewise assume tribal guilt. Like how white people should feel guilty about slavery and racial privilege, right?

To be fair, one does not choose to be white but one does presumably choose to be a communist

But one does choose identity, including racial identity, in a sense.
To be more precise, there's a difference between "identifying as white" in the sense of "other people would probably consider me a white female" versus "I think of myself as a member of the white tribe". Many aspects of identity are chosen, and there's a difference between how you think of yourself and how you think other people think of you. When I think of myself for example, the first things that come to mind are not "white" or "female", but more like "science nerd", and "libertarian". The "white female" part is just how society would categorize me not how I assign my group alliegiances.

So basically, I'm saying that if you identify as white in the "I am allied to the white people tribe" sense, then you're also maybe assuming responsibility for whatever the "white tribe" does. You can't be a collectivist, and consider yourself as belonging to a collective entity, without taking responsibility for the actions of that collective entity.

There are still people alive that suffered under the Nazis, the Soviets only lost power in 1989 and the Chinese Communists still maintain their dictatorship today.

Thee is no one alive who was a slave in the US.

You are dense today Hazel. It is not a question of tribal thinking, it is a question of facts.

Almost all German adults participated in the main criminal project of Nazi Germany: their war effort, aka conquering Europe and the Americas and enslave their populations. Very few of them rebelled, even when they could do it without taking any personal risk (see my remarks about pocket above, but there are plenty of other examples of passivity).

On the other hand, not all (white) American participated to the slavery system. Eventually, the majority of Americans rebelled against it, waged a war against the pro-slavery minority, won it at a very high cost, freed all the slaves, and abolished slavery. Reserve guilt, tribal or not, for those who deserve it: almost all Germans of the period of WWII; confederates during (and before) the civil war.

But all Americans equally took part in the main criminal project of America: their war effort, aka conquering the whole of North America and bits of Asia and enslaving or exterminating their populations. Very few of them rebelled, even when they could do it without taking any personal risk.

If your politics go that way. The question is not whether the Germans did anything wrong but whether they knew at the time they were playing some small part in a system that was exceptionally wrong. Texas is part of the United States in part because of a campaign to enslave Blacks. Should we rename Houston?

"On the other hand, not all (white) American participated to the slavery system."

Except by your unusually broad definition of what involvement means for Germans, pretty much all White Americans did. You can't argue both ends of that with differing standards.

"Eventually, the majority of Americans rebelled against it"

No they did not. The slave owners rebelled remember? The majority of Americans did not go to war for slavery. They went to war to preserve the Union by punishing the rebels.

"Reserve guilt, tribal or not, for those who deserve it: almost all Germans of the period of WWII; confederates during (and before) the civil war."

And then the Union went along with segregation. By your standards pretty much every White American is as guilty as the KKK.

I was trying to explain (to Hazel Meade) why Americans in general were in my sense less guilty than Germans in World War II. Apparently I failed, since you see my post as claiming that all Americans were as guilty as KKK. But what I was really saying was the opposite : "white Americans of that time, in their majority, can be proud of their history w.r.t. slavery".
Without trying to discuss this again now, let me just clarify a few side points : I never said that the guilt extended to the children and grand children of the guilty --- I was careful to say "Germans at the time of WWII", "American at the time of slavery", etc. And I am certainly not in favor (as I think you know) of renaming anything (let alone Houston which rings well) nor putting down any statue.

How about segregation in the South?
Most white Americans in the southern US states participated in the system of oppression which was segregation, and/or looked the other way, even when there was no personal risk to themselves. So by your logic w.r.t. Germans, all Southerners are equally guilty for the crimes associated with segregation. And plenty of those people are still alive.

Trump has boxed himself in, which is nice. But the real lesson is that a clear danger can be rejected by many people as too outlandish. Trump couldn't be as bad as he seemed in 2016. That would be crazy.

Lesson learned.

Outlandish things can happen, if you acquiesce, if you are complacent, or resigned.

"If Trump takes us down the path of authoritarianism"

Thanks Mr Orwell

"Upstate NY farmer says ICE officers stormed his farm without a warrant, cuffed him, threw his phone"

Literally Hitler.

You are on the authoritarian sub-thread, not the Hitler sub-thread.

"We don't need no warrants" is authoritarian.

Of course, an expression of guilt is nothing more than an excuse for and plea for forgiveness of sin. Taking responsibility for actions, on the other hand, requires far more than an expression of guilt, as it requires ownership of the consequences of one's behavior. Germans, not. Trump, not.

#6 He did not know they were Nazis. The same way some people claim they can not behave as decent human beings do because they are not neurotypical. And the same way Americans fueled Nazi Germany's war/extermination machines, from IBM to Coca-Cola.

They were Nazis, Dude?

IBM and Coca-Cola supported the Nazis

6. Come now, some day Asperger's contributions to the T4 euthansia program will just be seen as a road bump on making the world a much better place through eugenics.

Well, in some people's eyes, that is.

Clockwork's gotta clockwork, but he does, sort of, have half a point.

How does Asperberger differ from any number of doctors in Belgium and the Netherlands who are referring mentally deficient children to euthanasia programs? Except they know what they are doing.

This is the direction the West is moving in. Just as homosexuality, divorce and abortion went from abhorrent to mainstream, it is reasonable to expect the Left will win on euthanasia as well. We will all be doing it soon. Won't that make this doctor a pioneer in human rights and not a criminal?

'Something, something, leftists'

You're still not mainstream!

Singapore is indeed worthy of emulation, in no area more so than its Goods and Services Tax. All imports are taxed at 7%. Exports are not taxed. Mercantilism in action! This is in addition to tariffs on certain items such as liquor and cigarettes.

As Wikipedia explains "Before 1986, Singapore's corporate income tax rate and top marginal personal income tax rate both stood at 40%. Such high rates were deemed to be uncompetitive. On the recommendation of the 1986 Economic Committee, Singapore's government decided that it needed to shift from direct to indirect taxes, to maintain its international competitiveness in attracting investments, and to sustain its economic growth to create well-paying jobs for Singaporeans."

Singapore was Trumpian before Trumpian wasn't cool.

Trump is positively a squish though when it comes to immigration enforcement. The punishment for illegal immigration in Singapore are a mandatory caning sentence of not less than 3 strokes and a prison sentence.

I guess that is what happens when you have a brain drain into government.

5. Comparing Singapore to San Francisco for urban quality is like comparing .... choose your analogy.

is like comparing repression to oppression

#2 -- if the ML system can predict the evolution of the chaotic system, its not much of a chaotic system anymore. That said, wonder how many runs of the model produced the level of success claimed. You can always get lucky and get a result like that but if it was consistently achieving this level of success, its a big deal..

How can the layperson know whether the inputs for a system like climate are themselves accurate? NOAA has raw temperature data and "adjusted" data, which seem always to make past temperatures cooler and current ones warmer. Will they allow the AI to choose for itself, or will the scientists predetermine the inputs so that they can control the output?

6: so far, there have been plenty of comments but none about the plausibility of the article's thesis. I only had time to look at the first couple of pages; I've only read the sources influenced by the English language sources that they cite -- the ones that describe Asperger as a mini-Schindler protecting mentally disabled students from concentration camps and euthanasia. But evidently the German language literature is now telling a story that is pretty much the opposite. Is the evidence convincing?

1. Tyler Cowen: "Compare that to the 1920s when there were incredible revolutions in communication: radio, telephone, later the television."

The telephone was invented decades before it took off and was still owned by just 15% in 1920 and 20% in 1929. The radio went from 0% to 15% in the 1920s and the television wasn't on the radar until the early 1950s. Diffusion rates of personal computers, VCRs, DVD players, the internet, broadband, MP3 players, cell phones, smart phones, facebook and the ipad have been much quicker.

2. "The Manhatten Project cost several percentage points of GDP at its peak."

The Manhatten Project cost $2 billion (nominal) over 4 years. The GDP then was around $200 billion (nominal) so around 0.25 percent of GDP during those four years, not several percent.

3. "And then to put a man on the moon in basically 7 years from scratch. We can't even build a bridge in 17 years..."

It wasn't from scratch. The Appollo Project was proposed by Eisenhower in 1960 as a follow up to Project Mercury that began in 1958. So a minimum of 11 years, not including previous missile technology.

p. 7

The nice thing about chaos (in the mathematician's sense) is that it has a fairly strict definition: a sensitivity to initial conditions that grows exponentially with time.

It's not obvious that such a blowup necessarily means non-understandable dynamics. That nexus seems more a curious fact of chaos that we believe is true, but don't fully understand.

(Perhaps there is a whole cat-and-mouse literature that I haven't where people come up with tricky cases of exponential blowups in understandable dynamics and the definition of chaos gets tightened accordingly.)

So if ML can make unexpected predictions about non-tricky chaotic systems, then it defies expectations and opens up new areas of research. If (a is likely) it fails, then we have further confirmation for the non-undertsandability nexus.

My understanding is that this is a "tricky" case in your meaning, i.e. a simple differential equation which gives chaotic dynamics.

And that the data they fed into the ML system was not degraded by noise first. Which means that it was sufficient to make perfect predictions --- if you know the equation, this data is enough to run a perfect clone of the original (perhaps modulo floating point error etc). The ML system just has to learn the constants in the equation to high accuracy, and this seems plausible to do.

But not an expert, and would love to be wrong about this!

I'm not sure I'd call myself an expert, but I did study math and chaotic systems were the topic of one of my classes, and that was the first thing that came to my mind, too. I also did an internship on ML.

We know that with a sufficient number of layers, ML can emulate almost any function to a fairly decent accuracy. We also know that if you have the function for a system itself, you can predict it (unsurprisingly), to the degree that the system is non-random.

Taking both these together, it seems totally clear that ML should be able to predict non-random chaotic systems pretty decently.

I'd be very surprised however if the ML algorithm keeps this ability even under just minimal noise.

"Chaos" was a brilliant act of naming. When I first came across it the phenomenon (or a more general case of it) was called 'parametric sensitivity', a name that no advertising man would recommend.

Question: given that the layman buggers up the science in virtually every reference he makes to, for example, relativity or quantum mechanics, how come he gets "chaos" broadly right? Ironic, innit?

#5 Great observations about Singapore. The awareness of Singaporeans about their urban landscape and almost everything else about their country very rarely deviates from the official line. Most of them get their information from the "infrastructure propaganda" the author writes about and similar other propaganda.

The libertarian Richard Epstein get some kudos for at least tackling the property zoning issue.

He proposes property owners dispossessed by zoning receive compensation.

But today it is property owners seeking restrictive zoning in order to improve property values through artificial scarcity.

Question for libertarians: should property owners who benefit from artificial scarcity pay a tax?

#2: It needs to be pointed out that a chaotic system like turbulent flow or a flame front is very different than a Complex Adaptive System such as the economy or the environment. A CAS cannot be predicted because it is constantly changing as it gets new information. Being able to predict characteristics of a chaotic system (if they really can) does not mean much for the predictability of a CAS.

5. Unions are strictly regulated in Singapore and this limits mediocrity and opposition to innovation. Plus it is small and excelling is accepted, inherited from old China culture.

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