Monday assorted links


#4 - Buy low. Sell high.

I find that good advice and extremely helpful.

To be fair, I found most of the aphorisms people were complaining about to have a kernel of truth.

What is helpful at all about "buy low, sell high"?

This is an easy question that you can answer for yourself by doing the opposite. Buy high and sell low. Get back to us when you finally understand.

Agreed. "Low" and "high" can be notoriously difficult to identify. If they were easy, we'd all be billionaires.

6. Hitachi and Toshiba certainly seem to disagree - 'The Japanese conglomerate Hitachi looks certain to cancel its plans for a £16bn nuclear power station in Wales, leaving Britain’s ambitions for a nuclear renaissance in tatters.

An impasse in months-long talks between the company, London and Toyko on financing is expected to result in the flagship project being axed at a Hitachi board meeting next week, according to the Nikkei newspaper.

The company has spent nearly £2bn on the planned Wylfa power station on Anglesey, which would have powered around 5m homes.

Another Japanese giant, Toshiba, scrapped a nuclear plant in Cumbria just two months ago after failing to find a buyer for the ailing project.'">

Doesn't restarting 40 year old nuclear power plants after updating safety systems represent a resurgence in building nuclear power plants?

China started up a new plant or two, and Japan restarted a couple shutdown after the earthquake/tsunami several years back.

Japan will be restarting more than China completes as China is finding cost overruns a problem when compared to wind and solar projects coming in below cost projections. The problem with wind and solar is the speed they get built, faster than building power lines to distribute the power. The same is true of gas generation, faster than pipelines get built.

The raw statistics are an ideology test. Sort of like economic data showing a slowing of labor cost increases in China as proof Trump is winning his trade war with china, ignoring the record high US trade deficit with China.

Nuclear and coal capital has taen huge haircuts in price so restarting to get 5% returns on assets priced less than half the price in 2000 makes sense to milk the old assets, but as maintenance costs rises on the old plants, they can't compete even when the asset price is zero and below. The coal plants idled in the US five years ago have reached the point where the coal assets have negative prices, and enough time has passed to find profitable use for the land, enough to pay for demolition and cleanup.

#6) Meanwhile in China:

"Fourth Chinese AP1000 enters commercial operation"

"With the start of commercial operation of Haiyang 2, mainland China now has 46 power reactors in operation with a combined installed capacity of more than 45 GWe.

Four AP1000 reactors were also being built in the USA - two each at Vogtle and Summer. However, construction of the two Summer units was suspended in August 2017. Vogtle 3 and 4 are scheduled to start operating in November 2021 and November 2022, respectively."

"Tianwan Phase II - units 3 and 4 - are similar to the first stage of the Tianwan plant, comprising two AES-91 VVER-1000 units designed by Gidropress and supplied by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. First concrete for unit 3 was poured in December 2012, while construction of the fourth unit began in September 2013. Unit 3 achieved first criticality on 29 September last year and was connected to the grid on 30 December. That unit entered commercial operation on 15 February."

"China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said it now has 21 nuclear power reactors in operation, with an installed generating capacity of 19.092 GWe. It expects power generation from those units to exceed 110 TWh by the end of this year. The company currently has a further four units under construction, which will add a further 4.496 GWe of capacity."

"Unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province has completed all commissioning...Taishan 1 and 2 are the first two reactors based on the EPR design to be built in China...Olkiluoto 3 [Finland], the first-of-a-kind EPR, has completed hot functional tests and is preparing to load fuel, while fuel loading at the Flamanville [France] EPR is scheduled to begin by the end of this year."


"Construction of the four Korean-designed APR1400 reactors at Barakah, in the Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi, began in 2012. Unit 1 was declared complete earlier this year, and is expected to begin operations in late 2019 or early 2020. All main concrete works and heavy equipment lifting for the four nuclear reactor units was completed in October. Unit 3 is now more than 86% complete while overall units 1-4 are over 91% complete."


"India currently expects to bring 21 new nuclear power reactors with a combined generating capacity of 15,700 MWe into operation by 2031"

Finland again:

"Finland's Fennovoima now expects to receive the construction licence for its planned Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant in 2021...Rosatom had offered to build a plant using a 1200 MWe AES-2006 VVER under a fixed-price contract."

What is meant by the comment "is nuclear power actually growing"? Is it meant to indicate surprise by the fact, or disbelief in the cited source? (I have a hard time making sense of the data, btw., it's a mixture of units and difficult to know how categories are defined. Is hydroelectric counted as renewables, for instance? How can coal production increase 100mtoe, but consumption only 25mtoe? Is there a mountain of 75 million tons of coal (equivalents) stacked up somewhere?)

#1 I have actually had this. It was surprisingly good. As a disaster-prep though I would look for something more practical. Also, great free advertising. Good job Costco.

#3 "The Ballad of Buster Scrugs" was surprisingly enjoyable, and had serious material that was treated quite playfully. That's rare these days.

#4 "What you don't know can't hurt you." A false aphorism in the megaton range....

#5 Some gays in EU and America are probably wise to the fact that they actually have a lot to lose with open borders. The people crossing those borders are actually quite homophobic.

Define "open borders."

I would think it would be a period without enforcement or deportation. If not that, what?

Is it like a "lawless" society .. with a low crime rate? Because, you know, there is still crime?

"Open Borders" (Noun) - A catch-all term for both the causes and symptoms of a modern trend to import and establish a new middle-class from countries and cultures dissimilar to their host, with an adjunct tendency for both lack of cultural integration within the host country and insufficient oversight of said importation by its current citizen population.

In other words, gays - having been a long and unfairly maligned segment of the human population - winning and using the cultural tools at their disposal in cultures that respect the rule of law and have a high-value for life might think twice about importing humans that may not have the same cultural respect, not just for their lifestyle but also for the very tools that allowed them to win the respect they deserve in the first place.

I can't remember who said it, but "...We are always one generation from barbarism." If I was gay (I'm not), I would be cautious about making sure I didn't import people that would simply bash me again or - you know - throw me off of high buildings while rolling the dice that they might in fact integrate and not use newly found political power to simply undo everything.

If I was gay - and by default a member of said "host citizen population" as defined above - I would want the additional oversight also defined above. This would be beneficial despite the fact it might keep a few "hot guys" from getting in that otherwise would've....SWOT analysis is sexier.

Do you live within lands covered by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?

Even if you don't, you should see that editing history to create an artificial cultural history does not honor its terms.

So because Mexico lost a war 170 years ago, we should establish open borders with all of Central America.

Sounds good to me.

Different question. Didn't you notice the appeal to culture above? That, that Hispanic culture is native, is my answer.

Hispanic is doing a ton of heavy lifting here.

Mayan peasants from Central America have little in common with Chicanos. Many don’t even speak Spanish.

Regardless, the border will remain open, regardless of racist rants and the national temper tantrum that is the Trump administration.

There won’t be a wall, we are not changing amnesty law, and the border will remain open. Vote for whomever you wish, that will not change.

Maybe they can cry into their burrito bowls.

As a technical note, the wall was originally proposed to stop Mexicans. And recall Gonzalo Paul Curiel, whose birthplace in the USA, Indiana even, was not enough.

You’re arguing with a figment of your imagination, as per usual. Also your lack of understanding of Latin America leads me to believe you are not from California. As always, your ramblings are pointless and factually incorrect.

The point is that Ever, Trump, AG, et al will never get a wall or even a restriction in immigration legal or otherwise.

Executive Orders will be invalidated by the courts, Congress will pass zero laws limiting legal or illegal immigration, and will not pass any laws to kick out the 11-18 million illegal immigrants that live here currently.

The temper tantrum will be as pointless and ineffective as it is incoherent and incompetent.

Remember: The deplorables have zero voice on things that matter to us. We’re not going to let election results change immigration policy. Or any real policy for that matter.

lol, it seems like the most damaging weapon in a group like this is simply a memory, for what really happened.

Oh. Do you not speak English?

Are you a UC or CSU ‘graduate’?

Omfg, he’s been a paid Russian the whole time! What a waste of GRU funding.

I guess it is interesting that hyperbole is the only defense left in this age.

Your argument that Latin American culture is the "real" American culture because a few American Indians lived near Spanish missionaries in California in the 1500's is truly absurd.

It is, but about the same as thinking that 'real' American culture is a frozen monoculture and not an ever-changing blend of many cultures including Latino. The national melting pot idea is one of the greatest in human history, and America's killer app. I'm aware it's not perfect, nor has everyone signed on. But it's the most American thing there is.

I do not. Based on the terms as outlined on Wikipedia, several of the terms were not and remain un-honored. There's a border. The people that live to the South of it are Mexicans. History remains un-edited.

It sounds like you are making a case for a white European culture forcibly replacing natives and dominating survivors.

The white nationalist case for a wall.

I am making a case for having better border protection and oversight of non-citizens that would like to live here. I am making this case because it happens to be the right of every sovereign nation in the history of planet Earth. The natives you speak of also had this right, which they enforced against both whites and their neighbors ( - some of whom they also massacred - but inevitably lost. Interestingly they still have a degree of extra-territoriality (reservations), which allows them some degree of sovereign autonomy I allude to above.

What was done is done. Stop trying to apply modern sensibilities to an era in which they were unthinkable.

Hispanics aren't throwing any gays off buildings. Try again.

"EU and America", "Bash or Throw"

Mexicans no. Muslims yes. Free your mind and read outside the box. Homophobia is very prevalent in the Latino community btw. Also in the black community. Also in the Muslim community. Also in the Indian community. And a partridge in a pear tree......

Just knocking down your silly 'gays should fear immigrants' comment. The amount of Muslims coming here is a trickle. You know what else is prevalent in the Latino community? Gay people.

Anyway, you need to drop this particular nonsense and just fall back to 'only white immigrants please'.

The lack of reading comprehension is amazing.

I want immigrants that are a net benefit to the host population - all host populations. They could be pink-polka-dotted-happy-horny-people-from-mars as far as I'm concerned. What is it about this concept that you people fail to grasp?

Because shouting "Racist!" is just what we do these days. Four legs good, two legs better.

Why is the Republican congressional leadership addressing the problem of Steve King right now?

Because they worry that the party is becoming defined by that lower fringe. A blind eye wasn't working.

It seems like a healthy third of MR Commodores(*) want to be Steve King. And most of the rest want to pretend he does not exist. A few stalwarts here are willing to engage this as a problem. But I would say most exhibit a rather problematic silence.

* - I said commenters, but that's funny. I'll keep it.

I like it too.

I always wanted to be a Commodore. Commodore Excelsior Hazard EverExtruder….yeah I like the sound of that!

What ho, I've been summoned! Sorry for my tardiness, I have just returned from Peiping and Siam with a full cargo. Being a Commodore is no mean feat, not every jerry can just show up and be given the title!

I'm starting to feel like I should know how to play bridge. Then we could meet up at Raffles .. if Raffles is still there.

Actually I heard it's reopening in 2019, if it's Raffles hotel in Singapore is what you mean. Be happy to, next time I'm in Singapore.

Immigrants are a net 'benefit' to the 'host' population, which would be plummeting if not for them. The % of immigrants that do not 'benefit' the country is similar to the % of natives that do not 'benefit' the US.

I put 'benefit' in quotes because they are simply people who come here to work and have children and spend money (or work and send money home). Just like you and I do. So they 'benefit' the country in the same way you and I do.

"Immigrants are a net 'benefit' to the 'host' population,"

Low waged immigrants put downward wage pressure on low wage natives. Furthermore, illegal immigrant households have far higher welfare usage than normal.

"In 2014, 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native-headed households."

Net benefit doesn't = benefit to every person. On net, we need more people in this country.

Now, I do not favor unlimited immigration, and in fact I favor a 'points' type system (but a generous one with a low bar) which would get the left to call me a racist.

As usual there's no middle ground here, you're either opposed to all immigration or want no border. I bet most of the people arguing here are actually closer in their goals on this topic than they realize.

"On net, we need more people in this country."

That's begging the question. First you need to prove the point, before you can assume it's true. Furthermore, even if it's true, clearly the US would obtain a higher benefit from high skilled immigration.

"and in fact I favor a 'points' type system (but a generous one with a low bar)"

Yes me too, but I want one with a high bar. At a minimum the bar should be that the immigrant pay as much Federal taxes as the median native. I certainly don't want 250K to 500K in low skilled immigrants coming across the border each year illegally.

"As usual there's no middle ground here, you're either opposed to all immigration or want no border. "

None of the posters on here are arguing "against all immigration". Virtually everybody on the limit side would be pretty happy if we could just manage to reduce illegal immigration down to a rarity.

clearly the US would obtain a higher benefit from high skilled immigration.

Now you're begging the question. What does the skill level have to do with anything? The legal immigration of academic astronomers, economists, graphic artists and prosthetic limb designers would benefit "the US" how? Perhaps an argument could be made that these "highly-skilled" individuals would make more money than their talent-less compatriots and pay more taxes, as if tax payments were the essence of benefits to the country when taxes don't actually determine the budget anyway. If there was zero immigration to the US do you think that US taxes would go down? That if only foreign doctors and movie directors were admitted to the country taxes would go down even more?

The argument that unskilled immigrants drive down the wages of the native worthless is just as fallacious in that if it were true it would also be true of the higher skilled. Wouldn't the mass entrance of software engineers tend to drive down the wages of the existing engineers?

Ideally, the US should move as closely as possible to isolationism, forbidding its population to exchange ideas and information from foreign sources and eliminating both immigration and emigration. Then everything would be great.

Actually, I meant that the US would obtain a higher benefit from high skilled immigration over low skilled immigration. I didn't make the argument that high skilled immigration would be a net positive for the country. I suspect it would be, but I certainly didn't attempt to prove it.

"The argument that unskilled immigrants drive down the wages of the native worthless is just as fallacious "

I said put downward pressure on wages. And it's a basic supply and demand curve. Higher amount of supply results in lower cost for product. And "native worthless" just strikes me as bigotry. You may think a guy working for $8 per hour to stock your grocery store at night is worthless, but I doubt you'd feel that way if you had to do it yourself.

"Wouldn't the mass entrance of software engineers tend to drive down the wages of the existing engineers?"

Yes, of course. That's a given. But high skilled individuals have a much greater ability to compete and, at the very least, a high skilled immigrant paying the median level of Federal income taxes is a better bargain for the tax payers than a low skilled immigrant paying $0 Federal Income Taxes.

The problem with discussions of rational, model based, economic views of immigration, is it they don't matter until you have an administration (or working government) that can read 5 page memos.

Cue Niskanen, am I right?

There are foundational problems that come first.

Actually, I meant that the US would obtain a higher benefit from high skilled immigration over low skilled immigration.

How does "the US" benefit from any particularity? When you say "US" , what do you mean? Does an increase in rainfall "benefit the US"? If a Roman Catholic is confirmed to the US Supreme Court does that "benefit the US"? Does the presence of Latin Americans in Major League Baseball "benefit the US"? How are the benefits measured?

I'm not going to get into debating it, I assert that a (slowly) growing population is a good thing. If you disagree that's your business.

Your taxes test is tough to endorse. Many immigrants are young and starting their careers, why should they pay 'median' taxes at a young age? Not to mention many perfectly decent natives that help this country just by being here, buying stuff and working and making more Americans, and they pay very little in tax (due to progressivity).

I would base points on education and health mainly. Gotta be literate for example. And I actually believe there should be an explicit mandate for immigrants to learn English after a certain number of years.

In a perfect world all immigration would be legal, and if the system was designed correctly we could get close. Punishing employers of illegals more harshly would be a way to go here. However, I do not want to become a place where everyone has to prove their citizenship by showing papers every time they go shopping.

There's been studies, msgkings. They controlled for all those factors.

Basically, if you look at the studies which aren't screaming Cato stuff, the numbers suggest you needed to be "HS diploma - some college" as an immigrant to fiscally break even. Study methodology did not include externalities for culture and housing and political life. Nor inter-generational IQ effects nor reversion-to-mean-crime-rate (immigrant children were just as smart as natives in this world!).

So I'd assume an immigrant had to actually be college diploma before he became a sensible proposition. And probably post-graduate.

You shouldn't be surprised. Most Americans are net fiscal drains. Even allowing for higher motivation, immigrants will need to be more productive than the average American to be fiscally positive. Unless you are Alex Tabarrok, who thinks we can all become richer by losing $50,000 per immigrant, but make it up in volume.

So basically you are a fan of the Japanese model, with a plummeting population. I'm not.

You could easily get as many immigrants as you have now with those criteria, more if you wanted.

Of course another alternative to Japan would be incentives for higher birth rates among natives. Birth rate in the U.S. is of course much higher than in Japan.


If you are worried about population reduction (OK - I can sorta get behind that as a problem - I'll run with you), could I first suggest that a serious attempt be made to raise native production rather than immediately go to imports?

Especially when those imports are so.....costly? In the widest sense. I just find immigration a strange answer if this is the main problem you want to attack.

A wider point; a low native birth rate may well suggest that something is dysfunctional with the culture / political economy. Perhaps that's worth some attention before going to symptomatic treatments of the condition?

Then there's something wrong with the entire first world, because birth rates are plummeting everywhere. I think it's simply a human race problem, more affluence = smaller families. For whatever reason.

So why not try both? Pro-natalist policies and reasonable levels of immigration. I'm sorry I just don't see dramatic problems with a reasonable influx of people from all over the world, I am very proud that my country is the one that everyone wants to go to. I want to keep it that way.

Obviously there need to be limits but to categorically be against immigration, the melting pot, the exchange of people and ideas and cultures, I think that's ludicrous. The US's best trait is in fact this exact thing, in some ways we are the best of humanity, because that's where the best people on the globe want to be.

But to be that beacon, you have to accept all kinds. Obviously you try to weed out the criminals (although we have plenty of native criminals), but importing people is what we do here. Let's do it smart, but keep doing it.


My apologies, at the risk of crying "strawman", I don't think anyone here wants to stop all immigration.

But there's a lot of difference between 95%, 90%, 50% or 10% of current levels. Reasonable people can differ on ideal volume and composition.

Many commentators here take a "Fewer-but-better" policy perspective; a position which we think comes putting realistic (not catastrophic, but not panglossian) numbers into a reasonably sophisticated (includes externalities) decision model with an admittedly selfish ethic.

Fair enough, but how do we truly determine 'better'? Outside of the obvious (no criminals if possible), what makes a person 'better'? Does this mean some Americans are 'better' than others? Should the better ones have a name for the worse ones, maybe call them 'deplorables' or something?

We just had a lesson in what happens when you cast aspersions on people just for being less educated, for example.

PS. I used to think fertility rate was being driven by affluence too; but it's not. Or at best only a minority of the variance. Something else is happening.

Whether causative or not, affluence correlates pretty strongly with reduced fertility.

The problem isn't "reading comprehension." It's trepidation and abhorrence for America and ordinary Americans. Of course, they are correct to embrace such emotions.

They need to

Another snowflake, terrified of immigrants. Oh well, gotta cower in fear of something!

One of my least favorite aspects of the new hyperartisanship is how anything you think is bad you are "afraid of". Now we're all "snowflakes" "terrified of regulations" "scared of college students protesting" etc. etc.

That's really just a misuse of the term. LOL is not smart enough to understand the definition or is just misusing it for partisan reasons.

Being a snowflake isn't about fear. It's about being overly sensitive and feeling entitled to special treatment. It's not just living in an ideological bubble, but intentionally demanding the right to an ideological bubble.

Yes, mainly about fragility not fear.

Though the original term is specifically about being a "special snowflake", that is believing that you are a unique, special "intersection" of human experience with invaluable insights to offer the world.

So that's ego+fragility again, not fear. When being called "special snowflakes", Millennials weren't being bashed as a scared generation, but (for whatever it was worth) a narcissistic one with an enthusiasm for self indulgent identity politics, prone to meltdowns and collapses when confronted with reality.

Of course it's mutated through misuse into its present form ("Everyone who is scared of or worried about anything is a snowflake!").

(Not forgetting the natives who were just here, and the slaves dragged in and forcibly made part of the culture.)

Yeah, it's interesting on how the gays think on it.

Most seem kind of accelerationist and abstract thinkers - "We need to show our commitment to Diversity and our solidarity with all minorities, even if it's not reciprocated, to strengthen the ideal".

Some are kind of delusional and a bit thick - "It's the Whites that are homophobic, not the Asians and Africans! We'll be safer with more Asians and Africans.".

Some few are "Wait, what? You really want to import new elements and basically roll the cultural dice again, given, er.... cultural attitudes for all of human history?!""

Probably a more important question in Europe, though, given different demographic drivers.

It's amazing to me just how much people take for granted. How they fail to see how despite how awesome everything is, how fragile it is as well. That the protections they take as a given can in fact one day just disappear.

I was deployed overseas for several years and have travelled much of the world as well to find just how much things ARE NOT a given. That gay people would be foolish to think that their recent freedoms and tolerance - a small blip in an ocean of repressive history - would be maintained because they have faith the people in question would change and liberalize when every indication is to the contrary.

It's like being less opposed to someone that might kill you while being more vehemently opposed to someone who won't but called you a fag once. It only works because the person who might beat or kill you is farther least for now.


Travel the world or follow history down the stream of time; I'm always struck by how many liberal are completely unaware of how rare and ahistorical their local conditions are. They assume what is marvellous and delicate is eternal and assured.

It makes them very, very careless in their dealings with dark powers.

It's what the universities teach though. Or at least so it seems at the level that most BA graduates learn to.

That we're either:

Living in a historically aberrant period where all sorts of bad things have spread by the uniquely evil societies of Christian Europe colonizing the world, and will soon pass. This is a sort of angry post-colonial Leninist-Feminist sort of thing; culture does matter, but there are no meaningful differences other than colonial Europeans are worse than everyone and pretty much responsible for anything bad.


Living in a world where inevitable technological development or the power of Progress are forces which transcend cultural contingency. This is the Whig history types, or the Marxist inevitable "stages of history" people.

The Conservative perspective that there's no inevitability and that we've lucked out due to Christ / evolution of democratic institutions / the Church banning cousin marriage / Adam Smith (or whatever), and in any case its something highly contingent, and we thus need to be ultra careful and vigilant about protecting that legacy.... not that common in the university, and so not common in the people who learn its culture and then to do not learn to think away from them.

If it is they adopt strange takes on protection - "We must absorb continual waves of migrants or we defeat the very values we seek to protect!" and so on.

1. Did it come in dehydrated form? I'm curious if that's how they're getting the 20-year lifetime - dehydrated food can last a very long time if preserved properly.

The "dressing" components did. The pasta is already dehydrated.

"20-year lifetime" - always take these statements with a grain of salt. That is under ideal circumstances and dehydrated milk products or artificial milk substitutes still have a very uncertain stability over long periods.

There are several companies that supply entire prepper-friendly kits for 3, 6, and 12 months and even multi-year kits. The variety that is available now is quite astounding, and properly stored it can absolutely last multiple decades.

Like I said it was good. They made the whole bucket at a pot-luck I was at for about 2-300 people and believe me it was more than enough.

Worth $89.99? Now that is more dubious.

"and properly stored it can absolutely last multiple decades."

I saw a report that said standard oatmeal will and has lasted for decades if sealed in an airtight container.

What kind of disaster needs decadal food storage? I'm genuinely curious.

I mean, at some point you have to start farming again, right? And storage is expensive with opportunity cost. I've seen even nuclear / cometary winter scenarios only run for about 5 years.

"What kind of disaster needs decadal food storage? I'm genuinely curious."

The utility comes from the fact that when you need it, it's still edible. Even if you put it away 15 years ago, and just never got around to rotating it out for fresher food.

It's the same reason batteries with a 10 year shelf life advertise the fact.

That said, same sex marriage is legal in 12 of the 31 states of Mexico (and Mexico City).

Puerto Vallarta now has a reputation as a gay-friendly seaside resort town.

"What you don't know can't hurt you."

If you get hurt, and you don't what it was... might it not be a good idea to find out?

Good grief.

7. What are taxes for: Cowen contributes to this four-author discussion about the proposed 70% marginal tax rate. In his opposition to the proposal, he even finds common cause with the Paul Krugman in arguing that deficits aren't so bad. I'm not sure how Cowen can square his preference for future generations while opposing tax increases that would reduce the debt burden inherited by said future generations. I suppose I just don't understand. By the way, it took Noah Smith to point out that the proposal for a 70% marginal tax bracket only applied to annual net income above $10 million. $10 million! I started as a tax lawyer when the maximum marginal rate was 70%. But that rate did not apply to "earned" income, which was subject to a maximum rate of 50%. In other words, the 70% rate applied to interest and dividends, not compensation income, which back then was considered "earned". Of course, the preferential treatment for "earned" income has been turned on its head, with dividends now taxed at the favorable rate of 20% and compensation taxed at the ordinary rate. Strange how compensation was once considered "earned" income and subject to favorable treatment but now dividends are. Indeed, compensation is now subject to unfavorable treatment: it is subject to both income tax and payroll tax. And one wonders why we have gone off the rails when it comes to taxation.

Sorry we need to sanction you, the ability to add to the list is controlled by the ruthless Norse Warrior Guild!

Regarding taxes, to get a good overview, I agree we should listen to lawyers, not just economists, and especially not Noah Smith and Krugman.

Regarding the $10 million threshold, everybody of consequence was aware of it all the time. While you or others would accuse Cowen of strawmanning, by mentioning $0.5M as limit, that's the only way of making such a tax matter, as the $10M threshold would result in nearly no revenue, perhaps $70B/year in the absence of successful tax avoidance. We all know mainly only athletes and CEOs would be hit, and only until they were able to restructure much of the income as capital gains. This trial balloon is what we would expect from an innumerate millennial, who unfortunately is powerful.

Well, Tucker Carlson is worried about the populist rhetoric (and signaling) coming from Democrats, and is telling Trump and the Republicans to go back to the populist rhetoric of Trump's campaign. No, I don't believe Carlson wants the Republicans to adopt populist policies, only populist rhetoric. Talk the talk, don't walk the walk. And no, I don't believe Cowen is guilty of strawmanning. But I do question his appeal for greater concern for future generations while downplaying the growing debt being left to said future generations. Sure, the 70% proposal wouldn't significantly affect the debt bequeathed, but the 70% rate proposal is just a way of starting the discussion for ways to mitigate inequality and the debt. And there's a reason why the focus is on the 1%, the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: that's where the money is.

If you want to solve fiscal problems by milking the super rich, you need a wealth tax. If you depend on income taxation, you need to go way below 10Million/year, possibly even below Cowen's 500K.

Actually, all you need is an estate tax.

High achievers may enjoy their lives, but not their failsons.

Estate taxes are good ideas, but they don't bring in enough revenue to solve any fiscal problems. Not unless you set them at a level so high that they become terrible ideas.

I think the current set up is actually pretty good, with a large exemption that is now indexed for inflation. The rich are the ones who get hit, and they have lots of ways to make sure their kids are still rich, but not exponentially moreso as the generations continue.

Estate taxes generate virtually no revenue

All possible estate taxes? (Including all possible gift to anyone income taxes?)

There is a huge presumption here that because income taxes have not been aggressive recently, they can never be.

#4: "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." I agree, this is a bad one.

A mountain bike magazine once went with a variation, that which does not kill me makes me stranger. Applied to extreme survival racing.

My sister had a magnet or knick knack or something in her house for years that claimed to be an old Chinese proverb advising "leap, and the net will appear." I always thought that was terrible advice. That's my nomination.

""leap, and the net will appear." "

I suppose it's just a variant of "Carpe Diem!" but yeah, it's pretty terrible.

"That which does not kill me makes me stronger."

This one is from Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo, his last book. But if you read it, he never says this aphorism applies to everyone -- on the contrary, it applies to a very small minority of humans, the ones who are not "decadent" (the ones who are perhaps evolving toward superhumanity) -- and in particular, as the "me" shows, to himself.

In 1898 and 1899, Nietzsche suffered at least two strokes. This partially paralyzed him, leaving him unable to speak or walk. He likely suffered from clinical hemiparesis/hemiplegia on the left side of his body by 1899. After contracting pneumonia in mid-August 1900, he had another stroke during the night of 24–25 August and died at about noon on 25 August.

Sure thing, Freddo.

That's right. And the first stroke happened just after he sent Ecce Homo to the publisher.

4. Scott Adams did this one years ago:

#6: The real quicker is coal. If we keep this amount of energy coming from coal there is no way nuclear, wind or whatever will make any sizable difference. "Coal consumption increased by 25 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe), or 1%, the first growth since 2013. Consumption growth was driven largely by India (18 mtoe), with China consumption also up slightly (4 Mtoe) following three successive annual declines during 2014-2016. OECD demand fell for the fourth year in a row (-4 mtoe). The share of coal in global power generation is 38%, similar to the share in 1998"

Yes this is the most striking fact in this report - after all these years of energy innovation, and claims of success in development of renewable energy, coal is at exactly the same share of energy as 20 years ago. And I will bet the same India will eat all the gains in energy efficiency in the world, Jevon's paradox style.

No, I don't think this is fundamentally true. The price of renewables has dropped too much. Coal involves a lot of expensive, dangerous and dirty mining. Furthermore, you have to add on the costs of transporting coal to a power plant that also involves substantial capital investments. Everything but the power plant is an ongoing cost that renewables mostly avoid.

Renewables are already cheaper than first world coal. They will likely be cheaper than third world coal with-in a decade, maybe two on the outside. The only reason that coal is still prevalent, is a large amount of sunk costs, cheap to enter the market if environmental regulations are minimal and it's base load power.

The two most likely future paths are:
a) Significant amount of renewables (40%) backed up with large amounts of natural gas (50%) to handle the intermittency issues and legacy nuclear (10%).

b) Power storage becomes cheap(er) and renewables are dominant (60%) with a smaller amounts of natural gas (30%) to handle multi-day renewable power lulls and legacy nuclear (10%).

On current trends the US is adding 1-2% per year to renewables per year, is at roughly 18% and will probably hit case A sometime in the 2040's.

This is all referencing electricity production. Transportation will remain dominated by oil usage. Perhaps the personal vehicle market will become electric but the freight market will remain largely the same for the next 20 years.

This sounds about right.

If renewables are getting cheaper at the grid level and are already cheaper than coal, it must be easy to find a place where their grid power prices went down after shifting away from coal to renewables.

Can you name any?

On the other hand, I can name a number of them that have seen their energy prices go up substantially after shifting more production to renewables. Germany, Southern Australia and Canada come immediately to mind.

@RatInPutinsMaze - yes I am aware of what is constantly asserted by the renewable enthusiasts but the data shows absolutely no change in the amount of coal burned in the world in the last 20 years as a percent of energy. I wish it were not so as coal is a particularly dirty and dangerous source of energy, never mind the Co2 emissions, but we have to live with the world as it is, not as we want it to be.

"absolutely no change in the amount of coal burned in the world in the last 20 years as a percent of energy."

Yes, and that's the critical point. Electricity production has greatly expanded over the last 20 years. And yet coal's percentage hasn't budged even though it was the cheapest source 20 years ago. A coal plant relies on cheap coal and existing environmental regulations to keep it profitable. Any change and the margins disappear. Which is what has happened over the last decade.

"More than 40 percent of world coal plants are unprofitable: report"

In 1999 coal was by far the cheapest source of electricity production for the majority of the world's population. Now it's not. Wind, solar and natural gas are all competitive in many countries, including most importantly the US and China. Furthermore, once you build a wind or solar plant, you've locked in your costs for 20-30 years. The price of fuel won't change for either of those.

And people, even experts forget that wind turbines, will potentially last for centuries. Every 20 years or so, you'll have to remove the turbine and blades. Mount a rebuilt turbine. Clean the blades. Remount the blades. Send the old turbine back to a plant for refurbishing. The cost of that will be less than half the cost of building a new turbine (assuming that turbines don't get significantly cheaper). Ergo, the electricity from wind farms will get cheaper over time.

Coal won't disappear tomorrow and those that think it will are innumerate. But looking at the data, renewables have been trending up at 1-2% per year for a decade. That rate is capturing the bulk of the worlds electricity growth, with coal only expanding in countries that have significantly exceeded that rate and declining in countries that are close or less than the average.

"yes I am aware of what is constantly asserted by the renewable enthusiasts"

Yeah, most of the enthusiasts are idiots who can't do math if it disagrees with their inclinations. That being said, even a clock is correct twice a day. They were wrong 30 years ago. They were wrong 20 years ago. They were wrong 10 years ago. But during that period the costs of wind and solar have been rapidly dropping. At this point, they are correct or they soon will be.

Coal is a mature technology. I don't see any reasonable, likely scenarios whereby it's still competitive in 20 years ago.

I sincerely hope you are right - but I fear that India especially will take the easiest possible route to expand it's power supply and take advantage of all that cheap coal which is no longer needed in the west. That is what I mean by the Jevon's paradox. But maybe I am just a pessimist.

" take advantage of all that cheap coal which is no longer needed in the west."

They probably will do so. However, transportation costs will keep the coal from being "super" cheap. And fundamentally you have to live with the pollution. Just adding on scrubbers for sulfur and particulates adds significantly to the costs. As Indian's get richer, their tolerance for pollution will decline.

Furthermore, at the end of the day wind power will probably still be trending downward in costs. Solar might have bottomed out in cost at that point, but will likely be cheaper than it is today. So, coal plants being built 20 years from now will have a high economic bar to cross.

#6 - Did Michael Nielsen really just discover the BP statistical review of energy for the first time? Full link here;
In any event it is just a small fluctuation - over the last 10 years overall production is down 0.7% per year, with the peak in nuclear power in about 2007. Spencer Dale, the current author of the report is an excellent and interesting presenter by the way, well worth attending one of his sessions.

4. No good deed goes unpunished. I didn't see that one in the list. I wish it weren't true, but I fear that it is. What's the most famous libertarian aphorism? Here's one: “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.” Or this: “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” Or this: "Whatever we may think of libertarianism as a set of ideas, practically speaking, it is a doctrine that owes its visibility to the obvious charms it holds for the wealthy and the powerful." Or this: "“Libertarians are not the brightest lights in the candelabra, a fact that is evident from the alternatives they tend to offer to public prevention of private abuses. For example: if you don’t like working a hundred hours a week for twenty-five cents a day, then find another employer! It is obvious to intelligent people, if not libertarians, that more generous employers will price themselves out of a market whose standards are set by the most rapacious.” Or this: “If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism.”

I have no idea why you endlessly rant about libertarians on MR, when there aren't any here.

What's the most famous libertarian aphorism?

Here are a few nominations:

- Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.

- [The Man of System] seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board...but in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it.

- Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

- Not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make a pencil.

- Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference — the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee.

And Milton Friedman generated countless excellent candidates on his own (it's a shame he didn't quite live into the age of Twitter):

- There is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program.

- There’s no such thing as a free lunch

- Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own

- One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results

- Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself

#4 Life is good

5: The term LBQT combines homosexuals with transgenders with the assumption that they are natural allies. Perhaps before #occupotty which started in 2015 soon after Obergfell. But as the transgender activist agenda rises to the top of the Progressive bucket list, that alliance is increasingly costly to homosexuals. Why would a homosexual want to defend elective double-mastectomies on teenage girls? I suspect a lot more gay Trump voters in the coming years.

This is a surprisingly astute comment for MR.

White gays in stable pair relationship is the new WASP class!

#2 - But come on Tyler, I'm sure you have something to say about this: "Of course, I would like these arts to have larger audiences, but the value of an art isn’t in the size of its audience. It’s in the truth and splendor of its existence."

5. I hope this SF boom brings us a Chinese version of Philip K Dick. I imagine he'd have some mind blowing insights.

#3 - Scott Sumner reviews movies: (Sumner): "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (US) 3.3 This is one of those stories that would have been considered absurdly implausible if included in a work of fiction. But this is a documentary. The film suggests that she was the co-inventor of “frequency hopping”, the technology behind Bluetooth and several other high tech applications. Don’t know if it is true, but it seems clear she did have an interest in science and technology that went far beyond the typical Hollywood bombshell." - he doesn't know if it's true? I bet he doesn't understand Frequency Division Multiplexing, so it's all like what Arthur C. Clark says most people view science as: 'indistinguishable from magic'. If you read Wikipedia on Lamarr it's clear she's a co-inventor, with another inventor implementing the technical details. It's not hard to understand: imagine a room full of people talking. Spread spectrum in the form of frequency division multiplexing is a crowded room with people speaking in different languages (at different pitches, to make the analogy more perfect), so you can pick up the language you want by simply listening for the "Greek in high pitch" conversations, or the "German in low pitch" and despite the babble of different sounds, you can still make out the conversation you wish to hear. Traditional signal transmission in a noisy room simply increases the amplitude of the signal, akin to shouting in a crowded room in order to be heard. If everybody shouts however, it becomes a contest of wills and nobody is heard. Hence spread spectrum is more efficient than simply amplifying the signal and is the basis for all modern wireless transmissions.

If economists can't get simple tech right, why should we trust them with playing around with the money supply (granted, I think money is largely neutral so tampering with it is largely harmless, pace hyperinflation)?

Another reason I don't watch movies: a five or ten minute monologue is about the same as a typed page of information. Though a picture can tell 1000 words sometimes, often movie pictures are a waste of time.

Bonus trivia: I'm reading John Steele Gordon's "A Thread Across the Ocean" about the first transatlantic cable financed by the talented Field family, one of whom, Henry Field, married Henriette Desportes, whose life was made into a movie "All This and Heaven Too" (1940, starring Bette Davis and Charles Boyer). They should make Alan Moorehead's "The White Nile" (1960, about the discovery of the source of the Nile by white explorers, somewhat sensationalized) into a movie.

Calm down Ray. I simply said that I don't don't know if the story is true. Lots of documentaries are not true; why should I simply assume that this one is?

Apart from the documentary, Hedy Lamarr's contributions have been publicized for a number of years now, so it's not as if you have to use the documentary as your sole source of information.

I first read about her frequency-hopping technology at one of the all-time great museum exhibitions that I've attended, a sort of predecessor to the Spy Museum in DC: the history of espionage (including fictional Hollywood depictions) at the Ronald Reagan Library in 2002.

In addition to Hedy Lamarr, the exhibit talked about Austria's use of homing pigeons to do aerial photography (they literally strapped a little camera to the pigeon's chest); the Soviet listening device that required no batteries that was concealed as a wall decoration in the US embassy in Moscow; George Washington's use of spies and codes and ciphers; and they had all sorts of devices ranging from a German WW 2 Enigma machine to a Japanese WW 2 Purple machine to a microdot to Agent 86's shoe phone from Get Smart.

Still, that movies and books post was a good one overall. Another quibble though: even as a shorthand description I think the review of "500 Days of Summer" is missing something. It fails to mention that the movie is set in Los Angeles and shot in Los Angeles while looking as un-Angelenean as any film I've ever seen. Most viewers think the characters are living in Manhattan or some other classic high density eastern city.

Do we know the role played by her co-inventor? And if so, how do we know about his role?

Just to be clear, I suspect she was the inventor, as the film claimed. My point was that I'd never trust a documentary without doing further research. And when I did further research, I couldn't turn up much useful information--nothing beyond what was in the film.

@Scott Sumner - thanks for the reply! I did some work in my professional capacity in spread spectrum, and found that one of the pioneers patents was classified for about 30 years. His widow sued the US govt for being undercompensated btw, and the deceased inventor, an Italian-American, got an IEEE award. Perhaps the FDM SS invention as also classified? Like in nuclear energy, lots of patents are classified (even the M-16 process patent, which to my knowledge is still unpublished). So there, even our government understand patents are useful and likely more valuable as trade secret than under the present arrangement.
Btw, the 'spread spectrum as conversation in a crowded room using different languages' is an analogy, not exactly how ss works, for you tech types, which depends on a coded sequence. The analogy has been used in print before, so I'm not the innovator of that analogy.

Bonus trivia: some friends of one of my relatives founded MGM, the Skouras brothers. Legend has it my relatives were invited to become partners but declined. So it could have been me in the 0.1% rather than the 1%. But by the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon I am a founder of 20th Century Fox.

@myself - from below, I see the Lemar patent was not classified, issued in 1942, possibly because nobody understood the implications, or possibly because, unlike the IEEE inventor spread spectrum patent I saw, it was not detailed enough to warrant classification. A lot of patents are not detailed enough to really implement; they are not blueprints, and require hiring the 'know-how' to make the patent work. It's by design most of the time, as by law they don't have to be blueprints (IMO that should be changed, they should be blueprints like the early patent models requirement and the genetic inventions requiring a sequence or a sample deposit) and most businesses don't want to give away valuable 'how to' guides to making their proprietary inventions. Some patents have deliberately been written vague, which is technically against the law, as well, to hide trade secrets imbedded therein.

1) It is clear that Hedy Lamarr was a very intelligent woman, living in a time where she was not able to fully user her intelligence because of sex norms. Nothing below should take away from that.

2) Hedy Lamarr was a co-inventor in 1942 of a mechanical system for frequency hopping spread spectrum technology based on paper rolls (like a player piano) to remotely control torpedoes during WWII. Her contribution was the concept of using frequency hopping to avoid jamming.

3) Hedy Lamarr's specific invention was mainly kept secret, and was never deployed.

4) Nikola Tesla invented frequency hopping spread spectrum in 1903 to avoid interference.

5) By 1915, the Germans were making use of primitive frequency hopping radio to stop the British eavesdropping on their conversations.

6) By 1960, electronically controlled frequency hopping spread spectrum was developed as a useful military communications system, but it is unclear if the Lamarr patent was directly responsible for inspiration.

7) Most modern spread spectrum systems (like WiFi) are code-division, multiple-access (CDMA) rather than frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS), very different technologies.

Nobody in Africa knew about the source of the Nile (or cared, either, perhaps), until luckily some Europeans showed up to bring it to their attention. It was some years later before Africans discovered the headwaters of the Thames.

@chuck martel - thanks, it's true nobody cared except the lucky Europeans, who were fame obsessed. BTW popular historian Alan Moorehead's book is full of sensational claims (he, like historian Barbara W. Tuchman, is prone to spicing up books for the popular audience, not unlike most tour guide historians are when you visit tourist traps), but one plausible claim he makes is that the Zulu, a tribe btw that only existed since the late 1700s, was prone to using terrorism to keep the king's subjects in check. Having studied the Assyrians, I think it's probably true (see the Wikipedia entry on the Zulu for the controversy). For instance, the king would execute periodically some court followers for making too loud a noise, or he would test his newly acquired firearm on a live subject to see if it worked. And you had to bow to the king and praise in a ritualized manner each and every action he did, no matter how mundane. Kind of like being a yes-man or slave follower today? Social media 'subs' taken to the extreme!

Bonus trivia: Barbara W. Tuchman's father was a rich Wall Street financier and chess patron, not unlike today's Rex Sinquefield.

Lamarr had the right combination with military knowledge and musical ability. She at age 18 was married to the third richest Austrian munition manufacturer Mandl who was was heavily involved with Hitler’s Germany. Lamarr had overheard her husband's dinner party talks with the Nazis and had understanding of the weakness in munition designs. Mandl was a control freak and Lamarr developed life long hatred of him, instinctively be a contrarian to everthing he did.

Later in a chance meeting with her Hollywood neighbour Antheil, an amateur endocrinologist (on breast enlargement), an avant garde composer and mechanical player piano tinkerer, and while playing piano duet with him on the same piano with him kept changing key for her to follow, she realized that by spliting the music into multiple keys simultaneously, the overall sense of the music still got through even when some parts of the music was interferred with, i.e. the same ablility to overcome her previous husband's design of jammers for radio controlled torpedoes. Lamarr and Antheil co-invented the robust and secure frequency hopping communication system where only the counterpart who knows the exact sequences of hopping frequencies can decode the message. Antheil produced the proto-type with
88 frequencies, one for every piano keys. In the patent her name with the surname of Markey at that time came first, presumably she was the major contributor. It is unlikely that Antheil had the military knowledge but he was in place to provide the technical support and design. The proto-type was controlled with piano rolls.
~ Thanks! Nice one. It underscores how common in innovation what happens before influences what happens later. Nearly every invention, and I would say there are no exceptions, are based on something done before. It's said Newton's "standing on shoulders of giants' comment was in recognition of this; also the "maser vs laser", and indeed, for you types that believe nature is the ultimate inventor, the atmosphere of Mars under certain circumstances acts as a natural laser. Carried to the extreme, since there's a body of law that says natural inventions cannot be patented, you could not patent the laser, nor aspirin, which is salicyclic acid found in willow bark.


"Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results."

That's not insanity that's perfectly normal, insanity is far more severe than that, like seeing and hearing things that are obviously not there.

One of these: Look before you leap. / He who hesitates is lost.

Yes. Many aphorisms are mutually contradictory like:
"Distance makes the heart grow fonder" vs. "Out of sight, out of mind."

That evaluation only works if you assume "normal" and "sane" necessarily are causally connected. The rest of your paragraph negates this, as in the past it was considered perfectly normal to see/hear/feel things that weren't there (see many religious experiences across cultures).

Besides, the heart of the saying is true. If you don't change the parameters, you cannot rationally expect different results. The reason doing the same thing over and over and getting different results often occurs is that the parameters have changed. If you try to light a log on fire right after you cut it down, then again each day, eventually it'll catch--because the wood has dried out sufficiently at that point to allow the flame to catch. But if you have a crappy life and a soul-crushing job, no amount of going to work, coming home, getting drunk, going to bed, waking up, and going to work again is going to change anything.

+1. Yes. I always thought it was a bit hazy.

There's a distinction between controlled parameters ("striking the match") and uncontrolled parameters ("dry vs. wet wood"). It may be reasonable to repeat and expect different results.

Money can’t buy love but you can rent it

If money doesn't buy you happiness, then you aren't spending it right.

Is the glass half full or half empty? You're using the wrong size glass.

Yep, #4 seems to be a call for Twatterers to willingly, nay, gladly, display their inability to think.

Yet another clear demonstration that the place is full of fucking cretins.

#2...I'm a fan of Gioia, but my favorite book he's done is about my favorite modern poet, Donald Justice...Certain Solitudes: Essays on the Poetry of Donald Justice Hardcover – July 1, 1998
by Dana Goia

With regards to #6;

Remember its never too late to have a dangerous childhood.

Costco is selling a $90 tub of mac-and-cheese that weighs 27 pounds and lasts 20 years."

Save them for pensions ?

At the rate things are going, that Costco Mac and Cheese will last longer than the United States of America.

That tub of orange goo probably has more preservatives in it than the other tub of orange goo in the White House.


"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" and one about boiling a frog, not because the sentiment is necessarily bad, but because the metaphors are empirically wrong.

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