Wednesday assorted links

Comments

1. Ha. I saw that yesterday. Great title. Or should it be the post-libertarian case ..

Too bad he started off claiming a reduction in business startups when the number of sole proprietor business has exploded.

Too bad an economist can't figure out that calling a "business" a "worker" does not make the low profit business a worker.

But thanks to regulation that the IRS must write due to "tax reform", the number of businesses will explode this year as Uber "drivers" incorporate into the "business" they are in reality to gain the ability to count only 80% of net profit as income. Ditto small hotel and rooming house businesses. And small errand businesses.

Innovation has allowed really easy business startup, plus provided far greater mobility.

It's no longer required to move to Dallas to be a oil geology engineer overseeing field operations in Texas and Oklahoma.

And it's no longer required to be in Texas to sell door to door when you can do it from Seattle or use Seattle based sales tools to sell door to door nationwide from Kansas. But that changed in the 80s with cable and home shopping networks. Retail store fronts started getting killed by cable TV providing door to door sales day and night to millions of homes from a few TV studios, in competition with just going to the mall to look at what's new and in fashion or cool.

And this disruption is hardly new. Sears and the Post Office starting RFD Parcel Post merely provided the road map for Amazon. Sears started selling watches by mail, and before long was trying to sell everything under the sun.

Economists came up with the concept of substitutes. Why can't Alex see how substitutes constantly invalidate stagnant descriptions of the economy?

Related Trivia:

On my hike today I heard a loudspeaker loop up ahead "this is not easy, you will not be rescued .. this is not easy, you will not be rescued." Interested, I carried on. It turned out to be one of those things where paying customers crawl in the dirt while instructors shout at them. Some kind of pseudo military training. Six other victims were laying in a dry stream bed recovering, or in rictus. It looked really hard. I've actually self-rescued with a fractured hip, and that was easier than what these guys were doing to "recruits."

Anyway, I'd say (1) creative entrepreneurship is alive and well, and (2) we are definitely a post-scarcity society.

What exactly, besides live ammunition and crawling across glass, is harder than self rescue and a broken hip? Does it involve basebal bats and insteps?

It was a mountain bike crash. I could get the leg over, coast down each hill. Get off, lean on the bike to hobble up. Mostly down hill.

Those guys were doing miles on their bellies in the sun. After who knows what. Why even?

Because it’s not putatively sexual.

To learn the 40% rule in the only way you can possibly learn it.

I have great respect for people like SEALs who go out to face Danger for the rest of us.

But here's the deal. Every single one of us have two and a half billion years of survival training behind us. I don't think it's actually that hard to tap that and do what you need to when you have a fractured hip or broken arm (different crash, I set it myself, had xrays, the doctor told me it was set as well as he could do).

I think we are overly influenced by fiction and media, that danger is freakish and unnatural, and will make us lose our minds.

Probably not. For millions of years this stuff was entirely normal.

"But thanks to regulation that the IRS must write due to "tax reform", the number of businesses will explode this year as Uber "drivers" incorporate into the "business" they are in reality to gain the ability to count only 80% of net profit as income. "

It appears many people don't actually know about the new tax laws.

There are restrictions on who gets that special 20% deduction. Not every S-corp will get it. You must have a certain number of employees. Some service firms are not allowed (lawyers, accountants, etc.)

Here's an article: educate yourself.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/24/pf/taxes/pass-through-business-deduction/index.html

"If taxable income is below a certain threshold ($157,500 for individual taxpayers and $315,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly), then the deduction is simply 20% of the QBI for each business."

In other words, Uber transport contractors and airbnb rooming house operators.

How much do you think these sole proprietor businesses net per year?

"Rooney sums it up this way: To get the most out of the deduction your business either needs to have a lot of employees and pay a lot of wages, or have purchased a lot of tangible, depreciable property (e.g., buildings, equipment)."

5. On Sumner's piece

"On the plus side, Japan seems less influenced by the world’s major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.) than most other places."

Just not true. What passes for Buddhism in Japan is actually very very Hinduised. It is a Hindu-ised form of Buddhism, with many deities being Japanese forms of Vedic Hindu deities. These include Saraswati (the Hindu goddess of learning) , as well as Ganesha (the symbol of wisdom and son of Shiva), known in Japan under different names. The theology behind these gods may not have migrated, but the gods are very much the Hindu counterparts. Here's a link on the same -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WaenzbSJwk

I posted this on Sumner's blog (edited for typos):

I’m glad you're enjoying your trip in Japan.

1)”Oh, and lots of smoking.

“18% of Japanese smoke – the same as the U.S. A major difference is that 30% of Japanese men smoke and around 10% of women smoke while in the U.S., it is almost even.

2) 3% of Japanese women are obese and somewhat higher for men. Japanese in general eat better and almost always have smaller servings. They also walk far more than most Americans. I also read that Americans drink 10 times more soda than Japanese and Koreans.

3) “Subway cars are sometimes “women only”, I believe to prevent groping. So the “Me too” movement is also making some progress in Japan.”

Women Only cars have been around for 20 to 25 years. What has changed is cracking down on gropers since around 2000. This isn’t related to the ‘Me Too’ movement which so far is not in Japan – that is, public accusations. There has been a sea change in sexual harrassment law suits that began in the late 1990s after the first suit was filed.

"Japanese in general eat better"

What, exactly, is eating better? It is entirely subjective. It would not matter what your answer to that question is because there would be literally tens of thousands of studies which would refute it. Most people think eating low fat is eating better. Also most people think eating low carbs is eating better. And most people think eating less meat is eating better. From which I can only conclude that most people are schizophrenic when it comes to their views on diet. Is drinking less soft drinks good? Yet the country where people drink the most soft drinks has had a steady increase in life expectancy and health outcomes every year for 50 years. Probably short of drinking only soft drinks they have little to no effect on our health (unless of course you have a genetic disease that prohibits consuming sugar). Almost everything we "know" about diet in the popular world is false. It is all based on misinformation and biases.

Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die.

All of this is exactly wrong. We know what makes a good diet and have known for a long time. The impact of diet on health cannot be overstated. Certainly it is much greater than the impact of health care.

Most everyone thinks that is true. That is we all know what healthy eating is. But the problem shows itself when you discuss it. We all know what healthy eating is and we all disagree strongly. The simple fact is almost all of what we know is superstition or worse.

So prove your point. In 100 words or less what makes a good diet. To be fair I will go first: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Not perfect but approximately what I believe is a "good diet.

Different anonymous here.

Here's the deal. Lots and lots and lots of controlled studies have shown what are good diets. There are a few approaches that work. Unfortunately, where the rubber meets the road, in the real world, very few people can follow the diet they say they will. They say "this diet didn't work for me!" as they cheat 3 nights out of 5.

Nobody really disagrees outside of a few cranks. Plant products (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds- including whole grains), modest amounts of meat/eggs. Modest amounts of dairy are okay, if you can digest them.

"Nobody really disagrees"
Have you ever talked with a paleo advocate, or a vegan and vegetarian? Everybody disagrees.

There is nothing really wrong with your suggested diet depending on how you define "modest". It seems to be lacking in fats but that is easy to adjust.

How's that pyramid working out for you?

It works fine, if you actually follow it, to a proper calories per day.

Unfortunately pasta tastes good, and once you start on that "serving" ..

Isn't the theology more relevant than the deity?

No external religion (including Buddhism) is all that influential in Japan. That's the point.

2. "The first imperial dynasty was established 2,000 years ago, and the civilization has something like 5,000 years of recorded history"

Again. Something that is patently untrue. China by nearly all accounts has no written records nor even an orally preserved literature to speak of that is older than 1300BCE. That makes it a little over 3000 years of history. I just don't understand where 5000 comes from

It's interesting westerners gobble this up unquestioningly. The same westerners are ultra sceptical of any similar claims from India, though the earliest Vedic literature in India has been dated to be atleast 3500 years old (1500BCE) by even the most conservative datings. There are many scholars who ascribe an age of over 4000 years to the Vedas. Also the Indus valley civilization whose script is yet to be deciphered (and which some nationalists claim cannot be dismissed as non-Vedic) is clearly 5000 years old beyond all question.

Yet the western mind is unwilling to acknowledge the Indian claim of 5000 years of history, while accepting unquestioningly the similar Chinese claim, though the latter has no basis. China has no history to speak of prior to the Shang dynasty.

Yet the western mind is unwilling to acknowledge the Indian claim of 5000 years of history,

Which 'western mind'. The Indus Valley Civilization was discussed in the world history class I was compelled to take as a high school student 4 decades ago. It was in trade literature at the time as well, e.g. works of Rupert Furneaux. IIRC, those texts dated it to 2000 or 2500 BC. You cannot say a whole lot about it because the written record is undecipherable.

The IVC seals are yet to be deciphered. But the culture it represents has its origins much before 3000BCE, and it reached its zenith soon after 3000 BCE. And there are aspects of IVC culture, that have percolated down to modern India. (Eg : Ritual bathing, mother goddess worship, Pashupathi).

The Vedic literature is not acknowledged to be 5000 years old. But the consensus opinion ranges from 4000 to 3000 years. Which again is much older than anything in China.

But when an Indian nationalist tries to push back the date of the Vedas to give it 5000 years of history (perhaps disingenuously), the typical reaction of a western indologist is to go up in arms.

I do not find similar consternation when China claims 5000 years of history - which is a far more ridiculous claim than the similar Indian claim.

Older but less significant.

@shrikanthk - I have to agree, the Dan Wang post was very jejune, like a high-schooler asking questions that have been answered by scholars. It was painful to read. Kind of like if I, with no knowledge of atomic physics, started asking lots of questions.

India, for example Mohenjo-daro, has indeed a rich history. And often I notice China tries to appropriate it, like for example in the game of chess it is claimed a certain Chinese board game anticipated chess, when most historians of the royal game will tell you today's chess is a descendant of a four-person version that came from India ("chaturanga, a 7th century AD Indian board game of elephants, generals, and chariots").

Bonus trivia: why can you only get nuclear transmutation via fusion until the element of iron (atomic number 26), and then no more? Thus, gold (atomic number 79, a higher atomic number than iron) is so hard to find and make,since it's actually endothermic (takes energy to make it, unlike say fusing the hydrogen atom, atomic number 1, which releases tremendous energy). Yet why is lead, which also has a higher atomic number than gold (Z=82) so commonplace, when gold is not? So many questions, so little time...

I liked his post. He links to a piece by Simon Leys which I assure you no jejune person would do. The bit about 5,000 years of recorded history put me off though. Henry Kissinger's "On China" in the first chapter makes the point that pushing the start back to a mythological era is actually very Chinese in the sense that China does not want to have a definite start date, almost like claiming that Chinese civilization existed before time.

Jejune means thin, watery, unsatisfying - not young or immature.

To shrikanthk. You are right for China, but for India I'd like to know how the claims that the vedic texts are from about 1500BC are justified, and what they mean exactly. The written versions of those texts are not much older than 0, aren't they ? Does it mean the oral stories have been faithfully transmitted for 1500 years before being written? And what do we men by faithfully? Just that the sense has been conserved, or also that the precise language has been conserved, and that the language of the vedic texts is very close to the actual sanskrit spoken in 1500BC? It is not that I doubt those claims (they have been defended by many people I trust -- many linguists), but I'd like to understand them, and how we know they are true.

Orthodox Brahmana culture places heavy emphasis on the memorization and accurate pronounciation of the Vedic mantras. My son for example is a third generation American. He cannot (yet) read or write Sanskrit or any other Indian language and even when he speaks our mother tongue Gujarati it sounds obviously "foreign." But the way he recites Veda would be easily comprehensible to someone from from any era of Indian history. Although I have printed texts at my disposal (which I can read) I don't use them to teach him rather relying on my own memory of when I learned them.

Because phonetic drift occurs at a fairly regular rate, linguists can compare the language of the Vedic texts to other Indo-European languages and estimate their relative age bearing in mind that the Vedic corpus did not appear all at once but over the period of a few centuries. Thus 1200-1500 BC is the consensus for the midpoint of that era. Some texts maybe a couple of centuries older, some a couple of centuries younger. It should also be noted that the Vedas were not the everyday speech of those times but the formal poetic compositions of a priestly and royal elite.

Ironically the sense has almost totally changed. In modern Hinduism Vedic mantras are used but for the most part reinterpreted to completely different ends. The main exceptions are the rituals associated with Vedic study for obvious reasons and the shraddha or memorial rites to the ancestors. There are small communities of Brahmanas who still practice the most ancient Vedic rituals as a living faith. For example a Soma Yagna which is the archetypical fire sacrifice of the Vedic texts was performed in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in 2017. But for the most part Hindus talk about something being Vedic in the same way American protestants talk of things being "Biblical" meaning orthodox or traditional not literally related to the Vedas.

I think your comment mostly referred to Karmakaand literature, which I agree is not very vibrant in the tradition except for certain rituals / rites of passage.

But Vedas in a broad sense, does include the Jnanakaand as well (the knowledge portion) which is essentially the Upanisads. Their significance in Hinduism is paramount, maybe not in day to day religion but in terms of defining the major sectarian divides.

The Smarthas, the Madhwas and Sri-Vaishnavas differ mainly over the interpretation of the Jnanakaand. So modern sectarian Hinduism is directly linked to Vedic literature. This is something many indologists gloss over when they try to talk of Hinduism as a Gupta-age religion which is something distinct and unrelated to the Vedic religion. This is a habit of western indologists. But traditionalists see a strong link connecting the modern religion to the earliest Samhitas. The Purusha Sukta (which is part of the Rig Veda) for instance is chanted very very widely in India even outside of the "Vedic ritual" occasions you speak of. My family chants it even during regular Poojas / havans.

Sure. But the age given for the Upanishads is considerably later than 1500BC.

The Purusha sukta is a good example (which my son is learning at the moment in its Shukla Yajurvedic recension) is a good example of what I was referring to. Although its mode of recitation has not changed, the uses to which it was put would be unrecognizable to a time-travelling Rshi.

Sure. I never claimed 1500BCE for any of the Upanishads. But it is a strand of literature not divorced from the Karmakaand. The spirit of existential speculation you find in say Chandogya Upanisad (circa 700BCE?) is something that has its genesis in the earliest Samhita literature (Eg : Nasidiya Sukta of the Rig Veda). Also no Indian treats the Upanisads as something divorced from Karmakaand / Samhita literature. The spirit of questioning in the Jnanakaand stems from a similar spirit put to a different use in the Karmakaand.

I understand this may not be news to you. But it is worth emphasizing for outsiders because western historians have often made efforts to talk of classical Hinduism as something divorced from Vedic religion - basically an attempt to deny the cultural continuity in Indian life. Even the IVC (which was most likely Non Vedic though we are not certain) has had its influence on later Hinduism at a popular level as evidenced by the fertility worship, Yogic postures in excavated figures, among other things. This again, is something not openly acknowledged by many indologists. The cultural continuity is not embraced. That's my point.

Thanks to both of you for your explanations and debate.

There's the old Jewish joke:

A Jewish man and a Chinese man were conversing. The Jewish man commented upon what a wise people the Chinese are.

"Yes," replied the Chinese man, "Our culture is over 4,000 years old. But, you Jews are a very wise people, too."

The Jewish man replied, "Yes, our culture is over 5,000 years old."

The Chinese man was incredulous, "That's impossible, he replied. Where did your people eat for a thousand years?"

I know someone whose husband grew up in a Jewish family and she says she learned what Jewish families do on Christmas Eve: go watch a movie and then eat at a Chinese restaurant. (Her husband went against his upbringing and is now not just non-observant but cynical about religions in general; he interprets the laws about kosher food to be a way to create a barrier to entry, controlled by the rabbis.)

The Indus Valley Civilization had indoor plumbing. Something which the the Aryan invaders have still not managed...

#6

I really think rules changes are a big reason. I remember in the 2000's people regularly saying they didn't care about the NBA but watched March Madness.

The new rules sped up the game and allowed for more variation. Defense is still important, but the grind it out style of the 90s Knicks is mostly gone.

The NFL (for safety reasons) had to go the opposite direction. Now most games are littered with really boring short passes player after play. Quality is low. The strategy isn't as interesting.

Meh, I'm not sure I buy that explanation. The "three yards and a cloud of dust" style of play that reigned in previous decades of the NFL was pretty predictable, also. I would like more at a) a proliferation of rules, so that games feel over-officiated and b) as success or failure has become more predicated on passing the ball, that, combined with not having enough good QB's to go around, makes many games feel like they're over before they start because one team has a big advantage in QB play over the other. It's like if baseball teams only played once a week, and so instead of a five man rotation, you have one ace pitcher who pitched the entire game. The only games that would likely be interesting are the ones where the starting pitchers are roughly equal in talent. Since the league has 32 teams and maybe 7 top notch QB's, that's a lot of basically meaningless football.

Then again, a lot people say NBA playoff matchups usually just come down to which team has the best player, so I don't know what makes that any less predictable. I don't really watch the NBA much, so I will refrain from speculating on that topic.

The NFL is really caught in a bind too: they're losing fans who think the game is unsafe, but to make the game safer, they have to enforce more rules, which means they risk losing fans due to too many rules.

I wouldn't say that there's a lot of meaningless football though. Even though there are only 7ish top-notch QBs, there are about 25-28ish teams every year that have a shot at the playoffs every year. I think the unpredictably of the NFL year-to-year helps keep the sport interesting -- unlike the NBA, where it seems like we always know who is going to be in the playoffs and some teams seasons are practically over by the first month of the season. But, since you kind of need a top-notch QB to win in the playoffs, and not simply make it, then I would say its meaningless from that perspective.

> but to make the game safer, they have to enforce more rules,

IDK. So far, it's mostly safety theater, with their policy of fining indivdual players being the most glaring example. I also find it disconcerting that non-safety infractions carry the highest penalties (e.g., pass interference, intentional grounding, kicking the ball out of bounds).

I disagree with the premise. What NFL need to do is alter the current meta-game. As an example, changing a fumble from 'turnover' to 'down by contact' would remove the incentive for big hits.

True, but it would also take away one of the things that makes the game exciting to watch--the realization that in the middle of a possession when everything looks good for my team, they can lose the ball and very quickly be scored on.

"I really think rules changes are a big reason. "

Yes, effectively eliminating the dribbling requirement freed up the game.

Now traveling lets players dunk from 15 feet out without any dribbling at all. Only 3 or 4 steps.

People have been complaining about travelling for decades. There really was a rule change that took us from the bruiser-ball of the 90s and 00s to the much more entertaining game today. There was a Celtics-Pistons playoff game in 2002 with a score of 66-64. Final score, not halftime.

>People have been complaining about travelling for decades.

Gee, what an intelligent rejoinder. I suppose if that's true, then the conversation is over. Asshat.

It's gotten much, much worse in the last two seasons. Star players can go 4-5 steps without dribbling now (at home) and it's no problem.

But hey -- more scoring!!!

So angry, and so wrong. Got a link underneath all that spittle?

"People have been complaining about travelling for decades."

Correct, I did not say it was new thing.

No traveling is the real reason for Michael Jordon's success.

A mediocre outside shooter but able to run past people without dribbling. About 10% of his dunks would have counted under the West/Robertson era rules.

It's not just the steps, they are also allowed to palm the ball and roll it over from underneath. This allows for some snazzy hesitation and abrupt changes of direction dribbling. Might as well be a yo-yo

Yes, palming is a related problem.

They invented a new game with some legacy elements.

Also true of football, the current game has very little resemblance to the game of 50 years ago. And just like basketball, the current game is much more exciting, even if you prefer the old game and want us off of your lawn.

yes I prefer Curly Howard in a leather skull cap doing the statue of liberty play.

The NBA is also accessible and rewarding through multiple levels of fandom. Football tactics tend to be too arcane, and it's almost impossible to get up to speed given the complexity of the schemes plus the sheer number of players. In an NBA game, you can learn quickly to track things like pick-and-roll coverages, spacing, and off-ball movement which make watching the game far more interesting. (This holds true both on the individual-player level - vast variety of skillsets, easily observed - and the team-building level as well.) And there are natural ins to this type of fandom with a bunch of great national writers and Twitter follows discussing the sport at a high level.

Personally, I find the current NBA offenses to be rather dull - it's all long jump shots and iso's. But, I'm probably in the lunatic fringe.

Long shots (3 pointers) yes, ISOs no. It's all pick and roll and passing now. Watch the Warriors play, they pass it around like crazy, often with 30+ assists per game.

You aren't the lunatic fringe. I am.

BBall simply is oversized men and women in short trousers running up and down.

1. Apart from the title and intro -- well-done by both Alex and the interviewer. The interviewer clearly had an agenda, but was fair and asked reasonable, intelligent questions, and Alex explained the issues clearly.

5. There's very little street crime in Japan, so Sumner's not likely to receive punishment he's earned and deserves. Send him to Brazil.

Brazil was actually one of the first countries to abolish the death penalty. Sens him to Texas.

When is Brazil going to abolish street crime?

Sooner than America, it seems. Representative Bolsonaro has pledged to trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored and strike evil-doers as soon as he becomes president.

Will he strike them with his fists like Batman, or with his mighty hammer like Thor?

With the full might of the Brazilian State. Sending a legion of Avengers. Or like Batman without the non-killing policy.
We crushed Paraguay and we can crush crime. Sí, se puede.

You're hilarious, Thiago. I was in Rio recently. It's a fucking criminal paradise - but I love Brazil and hope that in 30 years it'll be different. It CAN be - peep New York 1979 versus today.

Many brazilians were mugged in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. Represenatarive Bolsonaro will crush criminals.

#4 - Correlated to the proportion of STEM enrolments?

3. Cowen’s Second Law for n = 2, Shetland edition.

One of two shrinks in an isolated population of 30,000?
The folks grew up with you, you are likely already part of their neurosis.

And no puffins.

2. An interesting set of questions. I have a WAG answer to this one:

"How did Korea remain independent?

It’s easy to look at a map of the Iberian peninsula and wonder how Portugal remained separate from Spain. If you’ve ever wondered that, it’s even more striking that Korea managed to remain separate from China."

There are certain countries that you're well advised to not try to invade, because you'll be unsuccessful in the long run and maybe the short run as well. Korea. Vietnam. Chechnya. Afghanistan. And though it's a new country in its current incarnation, Israel. Great empires and would-be conquerors have gotten their nosed bloodied trying to control those places.

It actually had not occurred to me to wonder about Portugal but he raises a good point. But some of these things are accidents of history. Why does Luxembourg exist? Why is Austria separate from Germany? From afar I'm guessing it dates back to the days of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Yeah, Korea does not really belong in the same category as Vietnam, Chechnya, or Afghanistan. Sticking with China, Vietnam has a long history of rebelling against Chinese rule, and most episodes of Chinese control have been quite brief. The same cannot be said of Korea.

The Chinese had acknowledged suzerainty over Korea for almost the entire period from 1270 to 1895, with only brief interruptions (mostly around periods of transition from Yuan to Ming, and Ming to Qing in China, where there were factions in Korea who remained loyal to the defeated dynasty long after it made any practical sense). This is no longer the fashionable interpretation of Korean history, at least in Korea, but the Independence Gate makes pretty clear that this was the view of Koreans at the end of the 19th century, when they were celebrating their independence from 600 years of Chinese domination.

Even during the period of Japanese rule, I honestly don't think there's any reason -- other than perhaps domestic politics in Japan -- to believe Japan wouldn't still be ruling Korea today if they hadn't lost WW2. There just wasn't much violent resistance against Japanese rule, other than a handful of terrorists affiliated with the self-proclaimed provisional government in Shanghai and in later periods, some Koreans who cooperated with Chinese guerillas after Japan invaded China. It's like the polar opposite of places like Chechnya or Afghanistan, where conquerors come in, and suddenly there's armed resistance fighters in every corner, coming out for the sheer joy of killing. I'm not saying there wasn't a lot of pro-independence sentiment. Even Hong Saik, an ethnically Korean general in the Imperial Japanese Army during WW2, was apparently pro-independence, and helped out independence activists. It's just that wasn't the kind of sustained, violent resistance you seem to be depicting. The independence movement in Korea was (to their credit, frankly) a lot more MLK than Yasser Arafat.

Yeah good points about Korea. They may've survived more culturally than they survived politically ie. as an independent nation. That does still leave the question of how they managed to retain that cultural and linguistic independence and identity. E.g. they created the hongul system of writing so they wouldn't have to use the Chinese system (although I recently read that it took centuries for hongul to really become widespread and it didn't become the official system of writing until after WW 2 and independence).

So there is a strong streak of survivability to Korean culture; there are dozens of recognized ethnic minorities within China but most of them are small and the Han Chinese culture is becoming more dominant, potentially threatening even Tibetan culture. Whereas Korean culture is in no danger of being subsumed into Chinese culture.

Does this point to the Communist Party being less culturaly
tolerant than dynasties of the past? After all Tibet and
Korea both maintained their cultures over long centuries
of Chinese rule. But only Tibet has been ruled by the CCP.

There is probably a Tibetan nationalist point of view that says Tibet was never ruled by the Chinese. It was associated with the Manchu rulers of China for two hundred years. But the Communists are probably the first ethnic Chinese to ever rule there.

Portugal is a warrior culture (an old saying has it that Portugal will present itself to God for Judment Day wearing armor). It is no surprise Brazil has never experienced defeat in war.

Other than in 1891.

It is not true! We crushed the 1891 Navy Rebellion. There was no other war in 1891.

True it wasn't really a war. Harrison only needed 200 men or so to kill da Fonseca and drag his corpse through the streets of Rio

It is a lie. Mr. Fonseca resigned because his coup failed and he was replaced by his vice president and rival, Mr. Peixoto.

'his coup failed'

LOL a funny way to describe it. More like his brain function failed after he was hung from the neck.

It is a lie! No Brazilian president or Emperor has ever been hung. We are not like your America with Kennedys and Garfields or the British beheading their king. Violence against Brazilian presidents are unheard of because Brazilians are peaceful and Brazilian leaders deserve respect

You guys are both gay.

Only in the old meaning of "happy". Homosexuality is almost unheard of. I think there are fewer homosexuals in Brazil than rhere are homosexuals hiding iamong Republicans congressmen.

Basically, at the time of unification of Germany, Austria had two choices: the status quo, or letting go its multi-ethnic empire to be part of a mono-ethnic German empire where they would be second to the Prussians. It is difficult to say which choice had the preference of the majority of
the Austrian population, but the Habsburg(-Lorraine) dynasty that made the choice was certainly in favor of the status quo, and they even waged a war against Prussia to try to block the unification of Germany. Of course, Austrians like Hitler, born one generation after, considered this choice an
unpardonable treason.

As for Portugal, an important factor of their continued independence was the maritime support of the British, almost always hostile to Spain during the relevant period (end of 15th -- end of 18th century). Of course, initially, the determining event was the choice of Isabelle of Castille to marry King Ferdinand of Aragon-Catalogne rather than some Portuguese king or heir.

So one can say that the independence of Portugal are both accidents of History.

So, did Scott Sumner used any digital maps, and if so, was it just signalling? Or did he need his wife to not only lend her phone, but handle the map reading too?

Digital maps aren't required in Japan. I traveled there in 2009 and got around just find using printed maps in guide books, subway maps, train maps, and street signs. It wasn't hard at all.

I used to use those little pocket-size printed maps that include all the streets and buildings in the city centre and have even tighter close-ups to help you navigate the stations -- they were fantastic. But honestly, digital maps are a lot easier.

Which digital maps zoom into building maps?

Which digital maps have system map modes to aid in picking the train, bus, plane? Google developed a framework to map public transport, but produces no system maps, that I'm aware of, only if it can figure out a route will Google reveal much about such options.

Has Google in Japan incorporated the Japanese investment in spacial data for users?

Re: 2, it's interesting that he wonders "How did Korea remain independent" without noting that Korea has, in fact, been conquered by Chinese dynasties before, most notably in 1636, when Joseon was decisively defeated, and the King humiliatingly forced to kowtow to the Qing Emperor, and the crown prince was taken as a hostage to China. The Independence Gate in Seoul -- built in 1897 -- celebrates Korea's independence, not from Japan or the United States, but from the Qing Empire. The answer, basically, is that Korea didn't remain independent, certainly during the later Joseon period from the 17th century on. Arguably, Korea was never really independent again after the Mongol conquest in 1270, although the relationship with the Ming dynasty was more equal than the relationship with Qing -- both Joseon and the Ming came to power in the wake of the collapse of Mongol rule, and the Ming never forced the King to grovel at their feet.

On the subject of the Ming, though, the Sui also aren't the only dynasty to crumble because of something in the Korean peninsula. Arguably, the Ming dynasty decision to send huge armies into Korea to help defend Joseon against the Japanese invasion at the end of the 16th century so weakened the Empire that they were left vulnerable to the Manchus a generation later.

6: Basketball is inherently the best spectator sport. Baseball's inherent boringness is frequently remarked upon, and though football has more exciting plays, they're horribly interspersed with nothing happening at all except a huddle.

Soccer's pretty good from a continuous action viewpoint, and the players are normal-sized humans unlike basketball players. But although there's plenty of action and excitement, actual scoring is too rare. It's a continual small sample problem, with so few goals being scored there's a large luck element in any single game.

The problem with basketball is you have to sit close for it to be enjoyable. Yous see none of the details from up in the rafters and the court is too small. It's by far the worst sport to watch from a distance. And at an NBA game any ticket in the lower bowl costs a fortune.

If you can afford to sit close, then yes it may be the best. Football is probably worst in this regard.

A fair point. My solution: I go to few live NBA games (you can watch on TV instead). For live basketball, I go to women's college basketball games. For $5-$10 I can sit at mid-court about 6 rows up, especially if it's Division 3 college basketball.

I could go to Div 3 men's college games, but when I watch them they're not all that different from Div 1 men's basketball, which in turn is not all that different from the NBA, and I say to myself I might as well go watch an NBA game.

The thing is that a sport's popularity today has little to nothing to do with how many people can have a good experience from the stands: TV is where it's at. Football is only made non-awful live by gigantic screens showing replays from great angles, trying to replicate what the TV audience sees.

The sports which are better live have small playing fields, and the entire court is interesting: There's a lot of hockey that a camera chasing the puck ignores: A bit of that happens in soccer too, but the field is too big for live soccer to be great, even from the best of seats.

Popularity has to do with how many easy to appreciate moments you see in a game. Football has quite a few, but too much of football is too hard for the average fan, and also invisible from regular TV angles: Too many players are off frame. The NBA has few players with weak athleticism, and the best plays are easier to appreciate than anything but soccer.

Soccer's real problem is not really the scoring: There are very exciting games with few goals, and really boring ones with 6. The problem is that spectacular play is rare. For every wonder (See the first half of the Spain vs Italy euro finals), we have a dozen terrible games at the top levels of play. Even with the top players in the world, like late in the Champion's League, it's not uncommon for at least one team to play as ugly as possible, because ugly is effective. Diving is rewarded. It's hard to get people to tune in if most games are boring.

I completely disagree about the small playing field aspect. The best part of attending a baseball, soccer or football game is taking in this giant, beautiful green field laid out before your eyes and seeing all these amazing athletes manipulate it. Basketball and hockey will never re-create that aesthetic, which is a big part of the allure to sports.

I remember going to my first Real Madrid match and being amazed at Roberto Carlos lofting a ball 50 yards down the field and having it land with pinpoint accuracy.

In baseball it's the awe inspiring sight of a towering home run. These are things that most humans cannot do. In basketball there's things people can't do like dunk a basketball, but it's on a much smaller scale, which is why it does play so well on TV and why when you're there it's hard to enjoy from sitting a distance away.

Now, the up close and personal aspects of football- thinking mainly of goal line stands- are pretty boring for a spectator I agree.

Now to the broader point about which sport will be more popular, I personally just don't really care. And I very much doubt that the popularity of a sport has anything to do with the spectator experience. And it's just wrong to say that soccer isn't popular. It's a niche market in the USA, but it's top dog in most parts of the world. Basketball is huge in China, I know, but so is soccer. No reason they both can't be popular in the future.

So David French is an NBA fan. Television ratings don't mean very much when comparing professional sports. Bowling was once ubiquitous on television but did anyone actually pay any attention? Does everyone that has the NBA on TV actually watch intently, understanding the nuances of play, or is it visual Muzak to entertain the kids while Dad does sudoku and Mom orders clothes on-line from Victoria's Secret?

Check out some NBA box scores. The hyper-thyroid battles are won by the team that shoots the most free throws. It's a contest decided by the officials, usually in favor of the home team.

The idea that a score that totals 240 points is indicative of excitement is ridiculous.

Not long ago Michael Jordan was considered by many to be America's greatest athlete. When he played minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons he played the position given to the worst players in pickup games, right field. Not shortstop, pitcher or catcher, right field. He was the greatest basketball player of his generation but a lack-luster outfielder with a bad arm who couldn't hit.

5 is correct but not especially insightful. Even as the craze about MOOCs was cresting around 2012 or 2013I was saying that the future of education is not online, it's hybrid. There are still a few starry-eyed technophiles who are talking about how online education is going to "disrupt" things -- Tyler and Alex may be among them -- but if Selingo's article has value it may be as another voice pointing out what should be obvious by now.

>Are the college and retail experiences converging?

Indeed, Starbucks feels just like a courtyard at Yale now.

Has Yale volunteered to become a homeless day center yet?

#7 Sad.

6. It is probably wise to remember how much the NFL dominated sports from 1975 - 2015 and it is truly the number one sport. It the heart of the manner it feels a bit like Wal-Mart to Amazon is the same NFL to NBA. I throw several other ideas:

1) Younger people are more urban and it is easier to find a little blacktop instead of a field. And it is easier to play with 4 kids than football.
2) Youth football is dropping as more fathers are giving a Basketball to their 5 year old. TBH flag football kinda sucks.
3) The concussion/CTE is hitting the past stars compared to most past NBA stars are in much better shape. I still think boxing declined a lot with Muhammad Ali Parkinson disease setting in the late 1980s.
4) The NBA just feels more diverse in nature. We get stars from all parts of the world.

6. So what is being sold and endorsed by sports figures from the two sports?

Basketball is still about selling shoes, which still gets more advertising than the things sold by football players 50 years ago.

The interlocking fields of fire from advertising and sports coverage are what creates exposure for the players.

It's true that the NBA is little more than a front for the sneaker industry. But the game has some entertainment value, and can be played by just any kid, anywhere. Control for height and enjoyable games are easy to arrange.

Ratings SHOULD be going up, and they are. The only way anyone can pretend this is newsworthy is if they contrast it with the NFL, where ratings SHOULD be going down, and they are. This is due to many in-game concerns and their view that players insulting the whole nation on live TV is just dandy.

Contrast the two trajectories and you can pretend it's news, but it's not.

NBA ratings were lower for much of the last 20 years than they were in the Jordan era. These things fluctuate and there's no guarantee the NBA will be tops in 20 years. Or if it is, it might be king of a much smaller pie.

The NFL is "just dandy" with the player protests? Weird that Kaepernick, who is at least as good as the average backup (if not better), can't get a job then

6. The Poetry in America with Elisa New site was streaming an episode about an Edward Hirsch poem entitled “Fast Break” that is excellent in how it conveys how fluid and exciting the game can be. http://www.poetryinamerica.org/episode/fast-break/ I’d initially been skeptical of the program but am now won over. A game that can inspire decent poetry has something going for it. Not sure if football can do that. Can’t think of a good football poem. Football poetry seems to be more about the associated social rituals than the game itself. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/collections/145050/football-poems

#6) Just like MLB, how can anybody - players or fans - get excited about any given game?

"Alright boys, let's give this one everything we've got. Only eight months and a hundred more games till the playoffs!"

At least in NFL, every game counts.

It's true that in baseball, basketball, and hockey, the playoffs are way more interesting than the regular season. But that's true in football too.

And sure with only 16 games each one counts for more in the regular season, but even with that ratings are down and NBA ratings up sharply.

The NFL has the abomination known as "parity scheduling".

5. So if you realize that your education is a cheap plastic piece of crap that doesn't fit, you can return it no questions asked?

Are you referring to traditional, online, or blended traditional/online?

AFAIK, you can't get the money back in any of those cases. However, if you chose free online Ed, as in edX or Cousera for example, refunds aren't relevant.

The larger question is whether education is about signalling or learning. Obtaining a credential with powerful signalling potential is expensive, but it will buy you 'success'. Genuine curiosity driven learning is cheap.

#6 I'm more concerned about the decline of bat and ball sports in the Anglosphere, which mirrors a broader civilizational collapse.

I'm NOT surprised that the Chinese unis have little sex -- Chinese in general have little sex, in my observation of nearly a year of working in Beijing - but the women WILL fuck westerners for sport. (The attraction of the other -- the universal fuck!) So will rich Japanese girls have da sex wit you - but the Nippons are not nearly as attractive (in general) as the Chinese chicks. But Chinese chicks are often bat-shit crazy, as self-centered as Jewish American Princesses. The Nip girls are often alcoholic, and ARE far more promiscuous than the China girls I met. Nip girls are enthusiastic about giving oral sex, too, in a way that the Chinese chix were NOT. Obviously, this shit is all anecdotal -- but fuck, so are most 'statistical analysis' - so, fuck it!

Reading 6 you might be forgiven for not realizing that the NFL is still vastly more popular than the NBA.

As a league, the NBA is dull from a competitive standpoint: everyone knows ahead of time which two to three teams have assembled enough superstars to have a chance at winning. But that very non-competitiveness makes it good as a sort of reality TV for twitter jocks and stat nerds. Witness the anecdote about the Portland crowd applauding LeBron for posterizing their player: in a competitive league, where fans thought that their team might prevail at the end of the season or that a regular season game mattered, this would never happen. But the NBA is more like The Bachelor. You might root for someone, but you know who will win and you’re really just there to see the quotidian drama.

My biggest complaint about the NBA is that how a game is officiated plays a much bigger part in the eventual outcome than in any other sport. But soccer comes close.

6. Maybe it's just short attention spans. Baseball stops between pitches. Football stops between plays. Basketball just goes on and on.

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