Monday assorted links

1. Henry on Tom Lehrer and IDW.

2. 536 A.D. sucked (Icelandic volcano at fault?).

3. Few people are trapped in filter bubbles.

4. The battle to control your mindfulness (WSJ).

5. “Not a single company has borrowed money through the $1.2tn US high-yield corporate bond market this month. If that drought persists, it would be the first month since November 2008 that not a single high-yield bond priced in the market…”  Here is more from the FT.

6. Why construction costs are rising.

7. Google meets Jane Jacobs.



"This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend

The end

Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end"

you got me blowing my mind

You going back to your favella, Thag

#2 Despite all the climate change rhetoric, and all the noise about subjects that border on terraforming, mum-nature is still very much in control, and humans are still very much left with nothing much they can do about it. This will happen again, and my money is still betting it's nature-made.

#3 Being properly informed these days means diversity of sources ad infinitum. For me it's never what two or more sides are talking about together or one-vs-other talking about, but when no source is talking about something despite its importance. If the panopticon sees all, abundance of suspicion should be present when lots of people call out that it's missed something. It didn't, it just doesn't want you talking about it.

#4 They should consult with their respective gurus on strategy.

#5 Incidentally, commercial loans and refinancing on industrial property are being tightened significantly again. My bet is the more conservative institutions are hedging.

'humans are still very much left with nothing much they can do about it'

Not according to Prof. Tabarrok, who has written (though oddly, not so recently) about how if the free market is unleashed, drought in California would be banished.

1. Mutual back-scratching. Yawn
2. Interesting.
4. My sister uses these. Not sure which one. If you want to know whats "now" just observe what she does/buys.
5. I like lending money.
6. Labor. Didn't even need to read it. But I did. Try building a house near Seattle. Holy smokes.

I glanced through #6 and saw nothing about increased regulatory burden, increased health and safety requirements, or any of the other work that goes into construction prior to boots-on-the-ground. That's a pretty major oversight, to the point where I'm dubious about the validity of the study. I mean, the study would have missed the EIR/EIS process, which by itself can cost millions of dollars (in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and a few other states, at least). All of that runs up the cost of construction.

The article is talking about recent increases in construction costs: "After falling or remaining flat for three decades, real construction costs have increased sharply since the mid-2000s."

Has regulatory burden in those states increased sharply in the past 13 or so years? Whereas there's ample data showing sharp increases in housing costs and labor costs, at least in the coastal urban areas of those states.

"Has regulatory burden in those states increased sharply in the past 13 or so years?"

Yes, it has. I don't have a study onhand to link to (it's been a few years since I've looked into it), but working in a field related to construction (environmental compliance/remediation) I've seen a lot of changes first-hand in the past 10 years, and I've worked with a lot of folks who have seen the changes. Construction sites are very different from what they were ten years ago.

One major example is the passing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. Sure, it's ostensibly only applicable to public land, but there are a number of ways to expand the definition of "public land", and such laws have ripple effects, meaning that they affect the interpretation of other laws.

Those interpretations are important. Regulators can add to the regulatory burden simply by revising their interpretation of old laws (seen it happen). It makes determining changes to the regulatory burden difficult to measure, because it renders the simple method (just count up the number of laws per year) more or less useless, and it can vary from regulator to regulator.

"lthough rising construction costs may not be the single most important factor responsible for curbing the supply of housing in these cities—restrictive local land use policy almost certainly holds that title—it is still worth paying attention to them. If local land use restrictions on the provision of new housing were ever relaxed, the cost of construction and particularly the cost of labor would quickly come into play as binding constraints on housing supply. From a YIMBY’s perspective, it is tempting to treat rising construction costs as a secondary issue as long as restrictive land use policies continue to plague American cities, but that could end up being a rather costly mistake."

Regulatory burden consists of far, far more than just "restrictive land use policies".

There was an electrical code change that added thousands of dollars to a house electrical installation not too long ago.

This stuff happens constantly, from the construction standards to the labor standards. Add to that fees and permits, utility hookup fees etc.

They aren't restrictive in the sense that they prevent homes or commercial buildings, but they increase the costs.

"Rob Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders, summarizes the headwinds confronting homebuilders as “the five L’s” of labor, lots, lending, lumber, and local regulations"

If you consider that to be a sufficient evaluation of the effect of regulatory burden on construction costs, you know too little about either topic to have an informed opinion on them. You have yet to present any evidence that regulatory burden has been given more than a cursory examination, despite it being one of the main factors driving construction practices (and therefore costs).

If you haven't done so, find a design drawing and look at it sometime. Count the number of times specific regs are cited (note: they may not be cited directly, the requirements of the regs may be listed, so it's not going to be a simple "Ctrl+F" search). Now imagine what happens when some regulator, three hundred miles from the project, decides that instead of the regulation meaning what it has been taken to mean for the past 40 years, it now means something else. That's the kind of regulatory burden that keeps folks in construction up at night, yet it's completely ignored in this discussion. And that's ignoring the chilling effect such micromanagement has on innovation, the fines for inconsequential violations, and the like. And it ignores the cost of hiring folks to prevent such fines. My entire job on one project I'm on is to prevent such violations; on larger jobs, entire teams are built to do so. Then there's the training involved....I could go on for four hours. That's not an exaggeration--I did exactly that last week.

To brush this off the way this article does calls the validity of the study into question.

Q: How can wages be stagnant if there is a construction labor shortage?
A:look at who is winning and who is whining.

1. Despite Farrell's rather grudging acknowledgement, the left is plenty risible, and attracts plenty of effective mockery, from people like Andrew Ferguson or P.J. O'Rourke. They might be considered the modern equivalent of Jonathan Swift, while the IDW is more like Edmund Burke or some such. Obviously none of these people could speak publicly on Henry's campus, and that doesn't trouble him.

The IDW is a silly conceit characterizing a group of skeptics, centrists, and realists who would be unremarkable in any time but ours. Because of the prevailing political winds they are being vilified as reactionaries and, for all I know, Nazis and that is why they getting so much attention. (I've been called one of them.) Tom Lehrer was a man of the Left who considered no cow sacred, but I think Tyler is off base in categorizing him as part of the "IDW of his time."

I think the IDW did a pitch kind of like "look at us, the new rebels, with the ideas they don't want you to hear!"

Okay, fine.

Sometimes that works.

But it also invites pushback, not just from anyone ideologically opposed, and also from anyone who is sort of stylisticly or cynically opposed.

Kind of like "yeah, some of that makes sense, but get over yourself."

Your performance might in fact be limiting your communication.

It is after all, not a humble presentation.

Did the IDW do that pitch? Or were they all kicked out of cushy jobs for saying thing people didn't want to hear?

Were any of them actually kicked out of jobs?

Bret Weinstein and Heather Heyer were kicked out of their jobs.

Evergreen was weird, but very much a corner case. Anyone who wants to paint it as typical, or the reason you have to go "dark" on the internet, is trying waaaay too hard.

(I don't think you really meant Heather Heyer.)

It didn't happen. Okay, it happened, but only once or twice. Well, maybe more than once or twice, but not that often. Anyway, it didn't really do any harm. Besides, it's kind of justified. Really, when you think about it, it's totally justified.

It was once, a pair, who shortly thereafter triumphed within the system.

It's a crap example of an oppressed movement.

You asked for an example and I gave you two. That doesn't mean they're an oppressed movement, it means that yes, some prominent IDW types have been pushed out of their jobs.

Oh, Heying!

"In September, a settlement was reached in which Weinstein and his wife, professor Heather Heying, resigned and received $500,000."

Such victims.

So ostracized that they are only hosed down with half a mil.

Starving revolutionaries.

In the words of Monty Python, "see the violence inherent in the system! --- HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!"

'The IDW is a silly conceit'

Well, that does seem to describe Vox Day perfectly.

'they are being vilified as reactionaries'

Well, 'revel in' is the more correct term for Vox Day's relation to being called a reactionary.

6. In my area construction is mostly residential construction. Much of it is being done by one firm. The firm's construction costs, I would surmise, are relatively low since their housing prices are low relative to the competition. However, their low construction costs and low prices also reflect poor workmanship, but don't reflect the cost of remedial work incurred not longer after the sale. Why do people keep buying their product? Most of the buyers are from elsewhere are are ignorant of the builder's reputation, a reputation not shared with buyers by the bankers, the real estate brokers, the surveyors, and the lawyers who are part of the growth cartel. The reality is that construction draws scoundrels because the industry is so fragmented and the growth cartel is able to keep secrets better than the mafia. Why are construction costs high? Why is tuition high? Because those setting the price can.

"The reality is that construction draws scoundrels..."

That's a pretty broad brush you're painting quite a few people with. "Construction" includes everything from day-laborers digging ditches to highly skilled technicians installing some of the most complicated systems humans have created.

Construction has a fair number of scoundrels, sure. More than other industries? Hard to say--it's difficult to measure the number of scoundrels in a field, as being a scoundrel requires you to take anti-inductive action (in other words, you have to hide it).

You're also wrong about how fragmented the construction world is. In my experience, it's VERY small. It's the norm for people to move from one company to another, so everyone more or less knows everyone. It's common, for example, to walk into the office of a contractor you hired to help with a project (common practice in construction) and be greeted by an old coworker or boss. Reputations definitely are important within the construction world. Of course, those outside the construction world may not even understand the issues. I mean, how did the CM that built your house handle their EACs? What was his OSHA SMP? How diligent were his IH surveys? In the construction world these are standard questions; to a home buyer they're likely to be meaningless if they aren't outright impossible to obtain.

What makes construction, particularly residential construction, different from many fields is that it's a black box. Someone buying a house isn't going to monitor its construction; they may not even elect to buy it until after construction is completed. The folks who pay to have those houses built are real estate investors, and they're looking for the "faster" and "cheaper" legs of the triangle, with quality quite obviously falling off. (Contrast this with the US ACE, NASA, and other organizations, which require an on-site Field Quality Manager.)

Fragmented is a term of art, and means many small producers. That really defines construction in most places, at least residential construction outside large cities. Our problem (poor construction) actually long predated the firm I mentioned, which came into the community after the recession. Having so many outsiders as buyers, and buyers not intending to become full-time residents, sets us apart from cities and communities made up of mostly full-time residents. Scoundrels seek opportunities, and in our case second home buyers and members of a real estate cartel willing to sell their souls.

"while the IDW is more like Edmund Burke or some such."


Which of Burke's books have you read?

"Henry" ...

Not going to click on a Crooked timber link because I don't need to read pseudointellectual conventional wisdom with gratuitous F-bombs thrown in.

Over there, they evidently think that out of Tyler's crooked political timber, no straight thing was ever made. And here I thought the less-economics-focused posts on his blog were like midnight basketball for the disaffected, keeping us entertained and keeping us away from the hard stuff, the various entities that the media labels alt-right. Where do they want me to turn for my quirky news digest? Jezebel?

Re Tom Lehrer: I married into a family apt to launch into his songs at the slightest provocation - particularly that one about Alma Mahler - dating from either my father-in-law's prep school or SDS days. I had never heard Tom Lehrer sing and still haven't. My parents weren't very hip. On New Year's Day 1961 my mother was a blissfully happy Pi Phi, with no intention of being unmarried and still on campus her senior year, photographed in the local paper standing on her head, holding a sign with her feet to demonstrate that the year read the same upside down.

6. Does not consider zoning & regulatory costs. Labor is clearly a major factor, but it probably is not mere coincidence that the higher cost locals have strict zoning & often intrusive environmental & other regulations which also figure prominently in the difference

Actually it does consider that

Not anywhere near sufficiently.

6. Labor costs vary across the nation according to the entire pool of wage categories. In northern cities many construction trades, plumbers, electricians and other mechanical workers are licensed and unionized. Their wages have been set by collective bargaining with multi-year contracts. Hourly wages seldom go up by more than 5% a year. In addition, the productivity of construction labor has increased dramatically over the years. Mobile lifts have replaced scaffolding, for instance. Pre-fab units and changes in technology have all been implemented to lower labor costs and cut manning. At the same time mechanical systems, electrical service, heating and cooling and air handling are much more sophisticated than in the past. Of course, they require higher skilled labor. Nevertheless, construction workers aren't overly compensated or particularly coddled "by well-paid management.

5. Astonishing that Google and Amazon are expanding their footprints in the most expensive municipality in the world, when by venturing only a few hundred miles to the east, they could buy entire Pennsylvania cities, with abundant land, housing and recreation. Over the course of a few years, they could come to sway all city elections, occupy all official positions, make their own rules - and collect taxes at the same time. Their employees would never face a traffic jam, or need to ride a crowded subway. And they could raise their families in huge houses and watch the sun rise and set over the mountains and low rolling hills.

They could buy up most of say Scranton or Lancaster but they then have the challenge of convincing employees to move there.

Some people like living in smaller cities and towns. Most people vote with their feet and live in larger cities. Even Amazon employees probably don't want to work in a town that is mainly populated by ... other Amazon employees.

4. Two meditation apps, Headspace and Calm, are locked in a head-to-head fight to dominate the booming $1.2 billion meditation market. "Meditation market"? Really? I would rephrase this to read, "idiot market." Because anyone who would pay money to subject themselves to meditation-related advertising and/or allow their meditation to be tracked and monetized is an idiot.

Beats sitting around doing nothing.

Ommm .....

Though one could believe the correct money mantra is that the money is in the jewel in the lotus.

#5...Not good. These are loans to businesses struggling for one reason or another, hence, the higher interest. Most of these businesses employ people. Where are the Keynesians? Digging and Filling holes?

1. "When I once had the misfortune to be criticized online by Jordan Peterson, I spent several days dealing with multitudes of politely insistent followers demanding that I engage them in lengthy debate on race and IQ, to the point that I eventually had to write this post to fend them off. "

Quite damning. Maybe it wasn't about the pronouns after all.

Maybe what wasn't about the pronouns?

Peterson made his name inflating the requirements of Canadian law as regards sensitivity to alternate personal pronouns, LGBT. It turns out no one was really going to arrest him for saying "her" or "she."

But maybe the people who really got revved up on that were sporting more basic biases, if "race and IQ" is that prominent in the value network.

One reason could be racial animus. But an equally-plausible reason could be that race and IQ is one of those places where mainstream sources are either deeply ignorant or lying by omission or both.

I think I just heard a whistle!

I've been reading Ed Realist and have gathered that we've exhausted so many other variables, that the education-outcome reform crowd (which obviously is the original race-and-IQ crowd, but for some reason they elude the label) have circled back to: it's the teachers' fault. (And didn't TC link to a study recently, saying that it's teachers' unconscious bias that dooms kids?) Maybe next we'll return to blaming schizophrenia on bad mothering. Blaming teachers seems like a bad look to me - not that I was so very fond of teachers, but I've known a lot of teachers, as we all have, perhaps more than I've known representatives of any other profession - and I will say for them that as a group they seem inordinately well-intentioned, very focused on the now, the tasks at hand, not given to pessimism, much fonder of *all* kids than most of us are, completely invested in the individual versus any category. Also, very busy, not particularly up on current events, and frankly, neither especially bright or inquiring, so - unlikely to be following education controversies.

Thus, blaming teachers is kind of brilliant, because most of them won't know they're being blamed. And at least no one can say it's whistling!

Remember, in an age of personal genome and big data population genetics, the biological basis for some small number of "races" gone.

It was always gone for all-children-of-God Christians, or inclusive Humanists, but the data came down on their side.

So race is a cultural concept, a sloppy one in America where the big "minority" groups are quite mixed at this point.

So who is arguing "race and I?"

People who get the science wrong vs people who see cultural oppression?

Those crossed signals will probably remain, because they reinforce.

I'm not sure you're ... exactly up to speed on the science - apologies, you totally do sound up to speed circa, I dunno, 1995? - but let's grant that you are. If the notion of populations grown distinct and quirky over time, based on the movements of ancient peoples, sorting broadly into "families" much like the concept of language families, while ostensibly but illusorily fueling some interesting (to the armchair anthropologist/Nat. Geo. reader/old lady genealogist) science at Harvard, Hyderabad CCMB, the Max Planck Institute et al - has no basis in reality, and is a dangerous concept - why even use the term as a proxy for other factors, in assigning victim or oppressor status? If it's a dangerous term, it should go. I'm not wedded to it - a child of the 70s, our education led us to expect race to vanish before our eyes, indeed we earnestly tried to live in a way that would bring that forth - so you can imagine how strange it is to find that race turned out to be just about the only thing people talk about, 24/7, year in, year out. It's not clear to me who is actually willing to let it go.

Didn't NatGeo show just how mixed up we all are?

I think taking something like that as "proof" for the racist's 5 or 6 is both a serious cognitive error and a proof that for racism science doesn't matter.

And yes it is very sad that racism is suddenly such a thing, again.

#3 > The key insight is that people overreport their consumption of news and underreport its variety relative to the media consumption habits revealed through direct measurement.

In general, don't think they over report on news consumption. No data for left leaning news source, nor diff between Google or Duck Duck Go.

From GeorgetownUni Baker Center Poll: Hours spend - Fox News

20s30s|VotedTrump|Once/day|18.83% <--- sum=25.28%

20s30s|VotedClinton|Once/day|5.99% <--- sum=7.85%

From GeorgetownUni Baker Center Poll: Frequency - Look at Facebook


20s30s|VotedClinton|Several/day|36.21% <---

Miss the top levels.

Fox News



Facebook average session time per visit 25 minutes.

The confused author refers repeatedly to a 'collapse' of the Byzantine Empire. There was no such collapse in the 6th century or the 7th century. There was a Byzantine 'dark age' from whence surviving records are thin, but that's later. The Western Empire did collapse, but that process was complete 60 years prior to the period the article discusses.

#6 - I think a good working definition of neoliberalism is the fear that somewhere, a blue-collar guy is being paid well.

As in Google has discovered urban walkability as a defining factor of community, even work community?

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