Sunday assorted links

1. Buju Banton returns to Jamaica, released from prison.

2. China thread.  How China does and does not want to change the rules.

3. How and why Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are becoming less violent (The Economist).

4. It seems there are atheists in foxholes.

5. Does adult guardianship differ from slavery? (NYT)  Currently the number of Americans under guardianship may range between one and three million.  And: ““It’s worse than incarceration,” she said. “At least in prison you have rights.””

6. “Researchers disagree on whether loneliness is on the rise, in part due to the difficulty in identifying who is lonely and who is socially isolated…”  And here: “Why, then, all the assertions that loneliness has increased and now constitutes an epidemic?


The answer to #6 is "because there is money in it".

Exceptional post but I was wondering if you could
write a litte more on this subject? I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a
little bit further. Thank you!

5. Guardianship is the inter vivos equivalent to probate. In both cases, the subject of the proceeding isn't there: she's either dead or incapacitated. That's not to say I approve of either probate or guardianship; indeed, we craft estate plans to avoid both. But avoiding them requires foresight, motivation, good advice, and individuals one can trust. Probate and guardianship are the backstops if one or more of those requirements isn't present. Again, the problem is that the individual isn't there: she is either dead or incapacitated. What these articles critical of guardianship and probate subsume is that the subject isn't dead or incapacitated, which isn't likely an issue in the case of probate but may well be an issue in the case of guardianship, in which case the problem isn't guardianship, but the determination of incapacity. Who do you trust? If you have assets, talk to a competent estate planing attorney about steps to avoid both guardianship and probate.

Give all your money away to the people or charities you love. Give your home to a charity with a provision that allows you to stay in it until your death. Make sure everyone knows you have given away your wealth and have nothing. Those who remain friends are worth having and those who do not were not.

Hey TC, you may have already noted it, but in case you didn't this Weekend's WSJ books section has one guy (Jeb McCaleb) recommending your book as one of the best of 2018. FYI.

May have?

Clipping services still exist, and it isn't as if the GMU PR dept. did not use them in the past.

6. I'm lonely.

try listening to this

I think social apps actually work, but you need to find a group you consider positive energy, be that vegan potluck or civil war reenactment.

The British series The Detectorists excellently displays the dynamics.

I use social apps to find motorcycle riding enthusiasts to ride with, and every once and awhile to find people to get a quasi-competitive game of disc golf going. Works for me.

#4. I get (sorta) what he means when he criticizes studies because people die (and so potentially bias the surviving population's results), but I'm scratching my head about his criticism that deteriorating health (as people age) should be controlled for. How would we do that? I'd be willing to pay to have my 24 year old body back. It's probably less true today (with people in increasingly poor physical condition) but I don't know any 50 year olds as healthy as when they were 20. Can a 50 yr old in "excellent" health keep up with a 20 yr old in "excellent" health? I don't think so (at least, not for long). There's a tv show (I've not watched) about an airplane missing for 5 years suddenly landing. And all the missing people are interrogated about "what they were doing and where they were" for 5 years. DNA analysis can determine a person's age to within 4 or 5 years. Meaning with 100+ people, the authorities would have no trouble in determining whether these people had lived 5 fewer years than their calendar ages would suggest. Aging includes a tax.


"'s been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening." -- Ronald Reagan

I was impressed by the clarity in your comment. . . when I assumed it must have been in response to 5. Ah, well.

Seems like it's never been easier to meet people or to avoid them entirely, whichever you prefer. But social scientists gonna social science ...

No -- can't get to know women because you'll get fired, can't get to know men because they'll think you're a homo.

There are lots of people about who like people, but don't like meeting people.

Not something that should be unexpected; people evolved in small bands and villages, many will be able to adapt to a larger social world and few might even prefer it (more opportunities for personality matching etc). Some won't.

#4, the old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes is of about the same quality argument as Pascal's Wager, which is a poor argument.

“People say there are no atheists in foxholes. A lot of people think this is a good argument against atheism. Personally, I think it's a much better argument against foxholes.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

False. Foxholes can be very, very handy and there is no argument against them. There are probably millions of people who can attest to this... none of whom you will ever meet.

'and there is no argument against them'

Vonnegut fought in WWII, and experienced the bombing of Dresden. His argument against them is simple - you only dig foxholes during a war, leading to him concluding that without wars, no one would dig foxholes.

'none of whom you will ever meet'

And since basically all of the people I personally knew who dug foxholes during WWII and the Korean War are dead, you won't meet them either.

The two arguments aren’t similar at all. No Atheists in Foxholes is crude emotionalism, but Pascal’s wager remains very difficult to explain away

Both arguments involve deciding to believe in god because it would be valuable (when you get shot, or when you want to insure against an infinity in hell). I can see either inspiring "works" if you are in a religion where action closes the deal, given belief. But who can choose to believe for cost/benefit analysis reasons?

The problem with discussing “the rules” is the implicit assumption that it translates into Chinese 100 per cent exactly the same way as native English speakers interpret it. It does not. Likewise for “rule of law.”

6. That quote is interesting. I do think there’s a difference between loneliness (which is subjective) and social isolation (which is objective), similar to how people are starting to recognize a difference between subjective economic anxiety and objective poverty. Part of growing loneliness might be because of expectations (like more people expecting to have the kind of friendships and romances in movies and TV) and not because people are objectively more isolated.

Carefully put, thank you. In addition to the relationships modeled on TV and in movies being unavailable to most, the relationships one was reared with are now increasingly impossible, because the closeness (closed-ness?) of the past has been catastrophed by social changes. Just as people who feel poor are quite often enjoying a greater quantity of economic goods than they were when they felt poverty less acutely, the socially disconnected are probably disconnected because they have more and not fewer options for connectedness. So many as to overwhelm. Salient subjective experience happens in limited bands according to the Weber Fechner Law. Anything below your band doesn't register, anything above is cacaphony, neither are processable. They may have the same effect (confusion inducing failure to respond) but they are not the same. You point to a nice parallel.

In addition to stuff and loved ones, wealth includes health and spontaniety. I will ponder whether/how I see a pre/trans fallacy of choice in those two domains.

Thank you again for your comment.

It's interesting to see the way researchers measure loneliness through psychology and sociology based questions. I found it pretty surprising that the loneliness doubled in the past years especially with the advancement of technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Maybe the SNS has an impact where it makes too easy for people to stay connected through the internet but actually decrease the live social interaction. I believe Japan has the same solitude problem for decades where younger male generations decide not to engage their lives in marriage and stay single for the rest of their lives due to high living cost and they can't afford to have a family. I think the problem will get worse as time passes and technology advances throughout our lives. Maybe Robots and AI might actually replace our loneliness and social interaction with 'real' people.

To return to Honduras et al becoming less violent.

Thousands of young men carry their violence with them when they "caravan". Sort of a Volkerwanderung.



Not if the machines capture them first.

here is why we hate the economist;
"Street gangs arrived in El Salvador in the mid-1990s, after the United States deported hundreds of Salvadorans from Californian prisons. The returnees created extortion networks and started turf wars. Another 120,000 were sent back between 2001 and 2010."
there was actually a lotta violence in el Salvador before the 1990s.

the article suggests the u.s. is exporting violence to el Salvador when
actually el Salvador was importing violent crime to the u.s.

el Salvadoran criminals back to el salvador in the 1990s

There are only two sane responses to this.

"Thank God we deported them, then" and "Gee maybe we should have some kind of improved border security to prevent this in the first place."

but the united nations/sociology dept response is to declare immigration a universal human right?
when americans are deported from Canada after committing violent crimes does the economist blame Canada if they commit more
violent crime back in the u.s.?
probably not

#4 But what type of atheist? John Grey's excellent 2018 book lays out at least 7 types. I'm guessing globally a majority of men in foxholes would fall fall into one or another of those categories.

4. Tyler's comment seems like a non sequitur in relation to the studies cited. Those in foxholes are generally healthy young men, not old people who have lived full lives and are not battling infirmity.

I was never in a foxhole under attack - one doubts many MR readers were - but I was, a few decades ago, often in a Quonset hut under attack from long-range artillery (not extremely effective artillery, but my best guess, looking back, is that there was a 1 in 500 chance that we would die each time we were targeted, which fortunately was only 7 or 8 times....)

I have no idea if there were any atheists there, one guy got mad at me for joking (as the sounds of far-off artillery launched at us in real anger echoed far enough away for comfort) that I should have "spent more money on insurance," he probably was not an atheist, probably was just annoyed that I reminded him that if we died his kids would miss him.

"It seems to me that ... the weakest soul is the one that has the most hope .... the act of forgetting self and throwing oneself into the arms of God ... gives ... more Joy than all the turning inward and all the self-examinations that make one live with one's own [faults], though the soul possesses at its very center a Savior who wants AT EVERY MOMENT to purify it" (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, letter to a friend, Mme. Angles)

That being said I have had more joy at Pizza Huts and dive bars with good friends than in Quonset huts with those with whom I almost (1 in 500 chance, 7 or 8 times over) ran a real risk of death, but you have lots of good memories too, none of us are going to write them all down

for the record, every single one of those good friends at all those circa 1980s Pizza Huts, and at all those dive bars from so long ago, have either died or "drifted away".
(except for a few)
Still, once a friend, always a friend.

With a background like that you can understand why my first instinct, when someone seeks to bitterly criticize me on the internet (here, in the comments section of an economics blog - (((a uniquely fascinatingly good one, but still, a blog run by an economist, if you see what I mean ))) - sometimes, but mostly elsewhere - trust me, mostly elsewhere)
is to wonder what I can say
to make them understand
God loves them
God respects them
it is so easy (the most hope)
to be what God wants you to be (hope for that, you won't be sorry!).
wake up
wake up
wake up
It does not matter what I am (assuming I am just some fictional mediocrity pretending to preach to the intellectual elite.... and you know that most people think that is what is going on here, this is not old style AM radio midnight sermons bouncing off the ionosphere back when that was cheap and widespread, not that there was anything wrong with that)
It does not matter if I am a mediocrity

this is simple
and I will say it as slowly and clearly as I can
I want you to pray for me
What I want to be someday is an elite faith healer, pray for me, I know many people who are troubled with illness !!!!

If nothing else, if you read this, and if they later delete it, try and remember, you once read a line like this:

"That being said I have had more joy at Pizza Huts and dive bars ...
what i want to be someday is an elite faith healer, pray for me, I know many people who are troubled with illness !!!!"

It is so easy to be what God wants you to be

It is so easy to be what God wants you to be

if you renounce


3# Because they have been exporting their most violent people to the US?

#3 - I'd be interested in the demographic trends. Crime correlates with the number of males in their late teens to early 40's.

Also, another reminder, Central America has real countries with competent bureaucrats, political scientists, surgeons, chefs, orthodontists, tradesmen, etc. Like most any other country on the planet they have domestic crime problems and corruption problems, not existential or theater-wide wartime problems. The people emigrating are not "refugees" under any sensible definition.

#6 relies on self-report and is, therefore, unreliable.

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