Wednesday assorted links

1. Robert Wiblin podcast with Mark Lutter and Tamara Winter.

2. College selectivity over time.

3. Switzerland signs Belt and Road deal with China.

4. Ross Douthat on Notre Dame (NYT).

5. The Economist on Joko Widodo.

6. “Not all Chinese warm to hotpot. Some older Sichuanese disown it altogether. They complain that it is causing an escalation of chilli-use in other dishes that drowns out subtle flavours. Chua Lam, a celebrity food critic based in Hong Kong, caused a stir in December when he wished hotpot would disappear from the face of the Earth. He dismissed it as “the most uncultured form of cooking”, requiring no real culinary knowledge.”  It’s better in Chengdu (The Economist).

7. Business is not running the show in D.C. (The Economist).


2. The answer is in the article: "The average college student is sending out many more applications."

How has the ratio of good students to good slots held up?

I'd think that it would be worse now than say the 70s, after the build-out if the University of California. No new campuses since 1965!

UC Merced opened in 2005

Ah, missed that

UC Merced has been in the news constantly for almost 10 years.

As a native southern Californian and Amerikan and moderate republicrat, it is normal and understandably that I do not knowledge about UC opens.

Orange Man Bad. Vote Sanders 2020s.

A random guy scanned a list at Wikipedia and missed a thing!

Therefore Trump is the best president ever.

Tip: try not to be so self-evidently moronic, unless you are caricaturing Trump fans, in which case fine.

It's Dick the Butcher. Moronic is his brand.

Remember that the SAT was redone in the mid 90s so that overnight 6x the number of people got a perfect 1600 on the V+M than in the year before the changes. Also, the easier it is to graduate from a school (cf. increased grade inflation over time) the more valuable it becomes for a student who previously had no hope of getting in to apply. Even if you are an average student there is an easy subject you can major in that will allow you to graduate from HYP or Stanford. Consider that Caltech often did not get as big an increase in applicants initially because its graduation rates were low and its minimal standards were high. No other elite private is willing to give out the full range of test scores of the admitted classes and its lowest scorer is usually above the 25% of HYP. SHYPM are not as forthcoming.

In the post SA writes that one factor is an "arms race" i.e. that students all exert higher effort now than previously.

< 1 then Lo is dominant strategy. If c < 1 then Hi is dominant strategy. In either case, probability of acceptance is 0.5 per student. So, I think his claim is non sequitur.

In the post SA writes that one factor is an "arms race" i.e. that students all exert higher effort now than previously.

" However, part of it may be real if it means students are stratifying themselves by ability more effectively. There might also be increased competition just because students got themselves stuck in a high-competition equilibrium (ie an arms race), but in the absence of data this is just speculation.

Holding fixed (i) size of applicant pool, (ii) size of incoming class, and (iii) applications per student---all of which he considers separately---I fail to see how an "arms race" will change admission rates. It is just a prisoner's dilemma with a coin flip when efforts match.

Two players, each chooses effort Hi (cost c) or Lo (cost 0). Higher effort gets in (value 2), lower effort not (value 0); if efforts match, coin is flipped. Payoffs:

Hi ... Lo
Hi. (1-c, 1-c) ... (2-c, 0)
Lo. (0, 2-c) ...(1, 1)

If c > 1 then Lo is dominant strategy. If c < 1 then Hi is dominant strategy. In either case, probability of acceptance is 0.5 per student. So, I think his claim is non sequitur.

6. "If it [hot pot] can set the West on fire, officials may hope it will become a delicious new source of Chinese soft power. "

I think it will happen in the next decade

No, it won't. Red China can buy Hollywood, but it can't the West's palates. Chinese food won't go down Western throats not even with all tea in China.

It's already happening, but it will be an "appropriated" version no doubt. There are already restaurants in big US cities where "white people" serve Chinese food for non-Chinese people and they are doing quite well. I tried a Sichuan/Yunnan restaurant like this in Seattle and was pleasantly surprised. Less oil and the quality of meat was better than in comparable authentic restaurants.

I guess sushi is a source of soft power for Japan, but it's now beyond their control outside their borders. I wonder if the same thing will happen with Sichuan cuisine. It didn't really happen with Cantonese, but that was generations ago and people didn't have the same open mindedness about food.

Also "mala" burgers will become a thing. And mala tacos too. The secret to Sichuan cuisine's success outside Sichuan's borders is that flavor and that flavor alone. Don't let any Fuchsia Dunlop book obfuscate that fact for you.

#6 "... food critic ... caused a stir ..."


Substitute beef, pork, or chicken for cat, dog, and pigeon and maybe westerners will go for it.


Oh man you nailed it, those Asians love to eat dogs and cats. Gotta keep them out or normal Americans will too.


I don't wanna be sharin' my dog and cat meat. Pigeon, ok, too many bones!


We like being in pain after a meal. the problem with hot pot is that the food is spaced out for such a long period of time that you know when to stop.

Hotpot is about the process, not the food. As another commenter noted, the mala flavor can win over Western (and other non-Chinese) palates, but the process of hotpot is very culturally bound. It's communal, with a delicate balance of adding food to the pot for multiple people, taking it out for yourself, etc.

Hotpot is done in many other Chinese/East Asian regions, but without the spice, and this is the enduring element. Only the Japanese have pushed it to become an individual process, with one pot per person, and that tells you something about what makes Japanese culture/society so distinct from other East Asian cultures/societies.

I live in Hong Kong, where hotpot is a cult but has absolutely no spice. I've yet to meet a Westerner who likes it, but I meet plenty who love mala food. It's because of the process. Even the BBQs are like that - an open grill that everybody contributes to and takes from in a social balance. Most Westerners prefer one person to man the grill and provide output, because this meets the most important Western criteria - "I don't need to think about others' needs". Chinese eating is all about thinking of others' needs, whether it's hotpot or pouring tea. Westerners don't do well with this.

So if hotpot does become a "thing", it will be Japanese style one-pot-per-person, or some other modification where the needs of other diners don't need to be considered (e.g. fondue, where there's no cooking being done in the pot, so it's your item in, your item out).

Seems like a bit of a naive and monolithic view of things that ignores social dynamics and distinctions that really matter in favour of vaguely apprehended cultural monoliths.

Go to any grill with lots of female kin and you'll see lots of buzzing around trying to make sure everyone's needs are met. Go to any grill with a bunch of young men and see them all fall hierarchically under the "grill master", and otherwise goof off and drink beer, play cards and sports. It varies by social grouping, and differences between men and women, kin and friends and neighbours and associates, old and young, are very important. I would be surprised if Chinese hot pots were immune to the same dynamics.

I'd add yet to be at a grill with more than one competent freehanded adult where the person in charge doesn't switch at least once.

Though if you're to a grill at someone's house, you have what you do not have going to a hotpot restaurant - a guest-host hospitality relationship, and a host who has property rights over the grill. Guest-host hospitality is about the host showing the guests a hell of a good time. If we do fall ever into the pattern of having one "grill master" at a grill, it looms large that it's because (s)he's the host and the grill is his property.

Introduce grills to China and where they're successful (not anywhere there isn't much space), and you'll see the same social dynamics play out.

introduce grills to China? Lolwut

Western-style grilling or barbecuing is in my experience nonexistent in China (I've lived around Shanghai for almost a year). Hotpot fills the same social role. Rooftop/terrace/balcony/yard hangout meals are based around hotpot or some sort of communal hotpot-like dish.

+1 (not sure if Widmerpool is serious; Chinese obviously "grill" in the sense of being an ancient culinary culture which is aware of grilling; they do not "grill" in the sense of having massive backyard grills using propane and propane accessories or whatever, which Tyler is talking about).

Grilling should only take place over coals. If you’re going to use gas you may as well stay in the kitchen.

At least in circles I travel in, hotpot (and korean barbeque) are fairly popular specifically because of the communal aspect.

'Business is not running the show in D.C. '

Well, sort of , as noted by the article - 'First, the president is an outsider. “Trump owes nothing to us,” explains one of Big Pharma’s top lobbyists. Nor do many of his appointees. Mr Trump rejected experienced Republicans who had not supported his candidacy, confides a senior financial lobbyist whose paymaster is an ardent Trump supporter. As a result, his administration is full of unknown entities.'

Any guesses on how long that state of affairs will last? And to what extent it will be big business attempting to change the current political status quo?

A pause is not the same as rewinding, by any means.

The unpleasant truth for non Trump supporters (let myself) and certainly for the never Trumpers is that we don’t yet have any evidence of him being corruptible. Sure the far left shrieks about him non stop but they are, as per usual, evidence challenged.

Seen elsewhere on the world-wide-web: "Trump 2020: Make Them Cry Again." As if they for one moment stopped the wailing and gnashing of teeth. I love it.

Lol! I love the wailing and gnashing of teeth - it's delicious!


Me too! Or should I say #MeToo!

Nothing makes this country more strong than one side totally dominating the other, hurting them wherever possible, and making them cry. I love this country!

I love you, man.

Do you mean the crying half of America that called us "deplorable" or the ones that said we are "bitter clingers to God and guns?"

The economy is expanding; asset prices are up; trade deals are being written; unemployment at record lows; Barack Hussein Obama's dangerous school leniency policies ended; Iran deal quashed; ISIS nearly destroyed; appointments are reforming the federal judiciary . . . and half of America is in hurting/tears. Boo-freaking-hoo.

I meant all of those filthy scum! Their tears soothe my soul LOLOLOLOL

And I love you too, Trump is love!


Even more fun.

I tried to teach my 16 month-old granddaughter to say, "Agamemnon." Now, she calls me, "MAGA." Works for me.

Now teach her to say "Warrior"!

She can even vote for Barron Trump in 2048. You'll probably be dead then but the Trump Hegemony will never die!

#MAGA2020 (and beyond)

In 2033, I will buy her first gun and teach her to shoot.

Outstanding! Tell her aim for the liberal's heart, because they have no brains. Just have her go to a farmer's market, plenty of targets there by the kale stand LOL

It's not about the money for Trump. Never was. To the big business establishment he was a nobody. Now I think he actually enjoys watching all the people who mocked him go nuts. The more angry they get the more he enjoys it.

When you elect a troll to be president.

Gallup has your Most Hated President [He Made Me Cry!] at 45% approval rating. Barack Hussein Obama's rating at this point in his presidency was 44%. While an econ PhD candidate may think BH0's ahead, the rest of the World not.

Actually we despise Le Grande Orange too, and loved Obama. Your country is a joke.

Liberalism is hate.

So is Trumpism. Meanwhile we just keep doing what we do.

I'm just going to leave this here.

Sure, not all of them are damnable on their own, but taken as a whole makes any argument in favor of the way Trump has conducted his administration with regards to his personal wealth seem a bit out of touch.

Most of them aren't damnable at all. " An employee of Qorvis MSLGROUP, a firm hired by Saudi Arabia to lobby Congress to repeal a law allowing 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom, pays for at least one room at the Trump International Hotel." One night in a hotel is what you got?

"Trump issues a travel ban on nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries, notably excluding nations in which he himself has business interests." Countries chosen by the Obama administration, so more proof of the he is NOT corrupt.

Overall, a good example of TDS.

On hot pot. I think the fad potential in the West is big, but that it ultimately settles in as a niche food mostly eaten by people of Chinese descent. I say this because it gets a lot of hype as a novelty and can perhaps feel sophisticated, but ultimately most westerners don’t want to sit there and cook their own food in the restaurant, and as with most things there’s plenty of So-so hot pot out there, moreso when the ordinary joe is trying to cook it.

In sum, I come down on the side of hotpot as usually overrated.

Hot pot can be a fun group activity, but I think it's hard to make good food by just briefly simmering/boiling it, regardless of how good the broth is (and most broths aren't that good anyway).

The anti hot pot crowd has a real point. I would rather eat something well prepared based on a well thought out recipe than get the same boring hotpot over and over again.

#4: Not a Catholic, nor was I alive for the '60's, but my suspicion is that the narrative Douthat presents in one of those links is probably about on the mark, where the cultural revolution contributed to the sex abuse scandal by making the priesthood less attractive to normal heterosexuals (and homosexuals, as well), thus increasing ratio of deviants to non-deviants in the clergy and exacerbating manpower shortages. Just a thought, but perhaps the fact that other institutions were not similarly affected might be a reason to re-think things.

Bret Weinstein pointed out in his debate with Richard Dawkins that clerical celibacy was essentially an experiment in creating a eusocial caste in Medieval European society. It's worth asking if this experiment really works all that well, or ever worked all that well, considering the institutional corruption that's been present over the centuries.

The transformation of the 1960s made a huge difference. I know quite a few men who would have made excellent priests who did not because of it.

But saying clerical celibacy may have never worked by pointing to later medieval and early modern church corruption ignores how much worse it could have been. Any encounters with more entrenched eastern churches can show the supreme negatives of having parishes pass father to son.

I'll take your word for that, but it seems like you could combat nepotism without resorting to the extreme of demanding celibacy for all clergy memebers. That's attacking a mosquito with a sledgehammer, if you ask me.

I think he is making a bit too much of the 'data' alleging a spike in accused priests that started rising around 1960 and peaked sometime between 1980 and 1985.

The source of this data is the John Jay Report, which was commissioned around 2002 to survey Catholic dioceses. It strikes me as the 'peak' between 1980-85 would be quite consistent with young adults at that time being able to provide their testimony. Younger victims would be minors so if all you had to go on were public accusations you might see a post 1985 drop off when in fact all you're really seeing is the current 'crop' of victims still more in the closet.

Likewise pushing back in time before 1960 who are you talking too in 2002? Victims here would be 50+ years old and getting older.

Suppose the amount of priest abuse hasn't changed at all in the last 100 years or so. A 'survey' is going to miss older victims who are dead, don't want to talk, don't remember and younger victims who aren't coming forward without parental help/approval. The 'hump' in the data, I suspect, is pure artifact.

Also the rapid increase from 1960-70 seems rather suspect. What most people think of as the wild 60's was more like the early 70's. For most people, the 60's were still more like the 50's...esp. the early 60's. In terms of priests, sorry but young priests in the 60's and even 70's would be taught, trained and supervised by older priests who were brought into the clergy in an earlier and supposedly much more conservative age.

Looking at, in 1970 the average priest was 35 years old. They weren't baby boomers, but born around 1935. By 1960 they were 25 years old. They weren't even teenagers when Elvis first made it big.

If Ross's thesis were correct one would expect to see the mass rise in abuse start in the 70's and max out in the late 80's. Consider unwed motherhood (,_1940-2014.png). Yes rates did go up a bit in the 60's but barely. In the late 60's it still would have seemed like things had only changed a little but it was the 70's and 80's when the real impact seemed to be felt. Keep in mind unwed motherhood requires people to have sex and the results will be seen 9 months after. If people in the 60's weren't having exceptional amounts of unmarried sex why would Catholic priests suddenly decide to go full force on child abuse?

Another problem, the average age of a priest in 1970 might have been a sort of young 35, the average age of Bishop, Archbishops, and Cardinals were certainly much older than 35! In the 60's, 70's and 80's they ran the Church as they do now yet these were men who grew up and were trained in a Church long before Vatican II and those infamous 1960's. If this sudden explosion of abuse theory is correct, what did those men do when they suddenly saw those under their command going hog wild with sex abuse and antics?

Here again is the problem with all pop right wing sociologists working their pet theory that the 50's was almost perfect and the 60's was society throwing that away. The 50's gave birth to the 60's. In that hard sense the 50's were a failure if you think the 60's was bad.

I think the idea is they simply failed to remove them for lack of replacements, because the young men who would have attended seminaries and entered the priesthood in previous generations were off listening to the Grateful Dead and having orgies. I'm joking, but you get the idea.

So kind of a swapping out. 'Normal' young men who in previous generations went to seminaries ended up remaining in the secular culture. Those prone to abuse came in, overall there was a net decline but it was slow and gradual hence the more conservative old guard didn't raise the alarm, as much. On top of this, those prone to abuse liked to signal that they were very conservative, very orthodox again lulling more senior clerics into thinking that although the secular culture was taking a toll on the number of new priests, those they had were the best of the best. In fact they had the worst of the worst but were too focused on those horrible liberals outside the Church to notice.

So two possible cases here. One is the abuse was more or less always a major problem, the other that it came after the 60's. I think what you suggest could make the 60's hypothesis work but not quite in the way Ross and other conservatives would like.

those they had were the best of the best

Maybe they got both - it's not too hard to imagine that some of those who opted into a declining faith were a bit more spiritually committed and willing to go the extra mile than the bulk in the previous generations when the job commands a bit more respect, power, social status etc.

Abuse changes (if there are changes and if abuse is high relative to any other important social position) only tell us about changes in prevalence of the low end, not about the high end.

Possibly "Average Priest Is Over"?

So your model is post 1960 you see fewer priests entering but those that do have a dumbbell like structure. On one end abusers who crow about their orthodoxy and on the other hand saints who are super committed to the faith. Both sides, though, cover for each other to upper management who came into the Church and power long before 1960 and the notable changes in society at large as well as among Catholics....

Except where is the evidence for the best of the best post 1960? The large numbers of abuse indicate the best couldn't have been that good or the worst were exceptionally good at conning both peers and elders.

At this point lets remember the shuffling of abusers around whenever they started to raise eyebrows in parishes tells us there likely was no great con job happening by the bottom against the top of the Church.

Maybe they did do a better job, relative to change in the % of abusers, than they did before. Who knows?

Anyway, there are probably better measures of priest quality than the unclear datapoint on child abuse, if you really wanted to see if they were getting better or worse.

Men becoming less attracted to priesthood due to the "Sexual Revolution" specifically seems a little tricky to me.

Seems like that's confounded by a disenchantment with religious ideas which is also happening at the same time, and probably a bunch of other things.

Good point. Increasing prosperity, for example, I think negatively correlates with religiosity, so the post-war boom might have had something to do with it, too.

There was an explosion of options at this time. Signing your life over to the church became one of many options for the sort of person who might become priest, and really, a bit of a weird one.

4. Not surprisingly, Douthat supports Benedict rather than Francis, the former having blamed the crisis in the Catholic Church on the 1960s sexual revolution and in particular gays and lesbians in a letter made public last week (before the fire). Here's my commetn to Douthat's op/ed:

The history of Christianity is a history of division, beginning with the division between Jewish followers of Jesus (led by Peter and James) and the Gentile followers of Jesus (led by Paul), the former one might call "conservative" because Jesus and His Disciples were observant Jews. The difference today, fortunately, is that heretics are not burned at the stake. Make no mistake: by equating homosexuality with pedophilia, Benedict is identifying homosexuals as heretics. Humans are social animals, the need for human touch essential to a healthy life. The Eastern Church understand this, and has encouraged young men entering the priesthood to marry before receiving their vows; indeed, the Eastern Church views a priest's family, his wife and children, as a model for the laity. No, it's not all about sex; it's about appreciating the human need for human touch. It's time for the Roman Catholic Church to acknowledge that Priests are human, and humans must have human touch if they are to be a model for the laity.

I am no dialectical materialist, though many have called me a communist. homosexuality and pedophilia are both bad, just not as bad as say teen pregnancy or abortion. heretics understand a human in his nature is not one person, thus must speak through other voices, like one who sits at barbershop in observance of art gallery. look at infant mortality during the crack epidemic. what followed was the rise of scholastic therapy -- simply another war of the worker against the owner, the prevailing winds blowing right.

rayward: it's about appreciating the human need for human touch

I'm not sure all humans are like that, and not sure it's a good idea to abnormalize those that are not. People are more behaviourally flexible than you believe.

I'm not really interested in the doctrinal aspect here (I'm not a Catholic or Theist and whether there is a doctrinal justification or not is of no meaning to me), but to insist that all humans "need touch" and that highest form of priests is present some sort of model family does not seem like a religious model that is very embracing of human difference.

(Further I'm not sure about your understanding of the Eastern Church either - Wikipedia "The Eastern Catholic Churches ordain both celibate and married men. However, in both the East and the West, bishops are chosen from among those who are celibate.").

Where do you get your stuff?

Wisdom from great men, one with whom I spent "quality" time.

Plato, "Opinion is not truth."

Sgt. Clark, "Opinions are like ass holes. everybody has one."

2. Today's America is far more affluent than the America I knew growing up. Sure, I am older, and I grew up in the South, but it's different now. There was a time time, my time actually, when one could graduate from a good public university and compete for jobs with those graduating from what are now known as elite colleges (they weren't known as elite colleges back then). What's changed? The greatest change is inequality. My time was the long period of shared prosperity, from the end of WWII until the 1980s. It's not a popular view at this blog, but the change in America wrought by the great increase in inequality has affected the lives of everyone, from top to bottom, the struggle to gain entry to the 1% even inducing parents to engage in criminal behavior. From financial and economic instability to dysfunctional behavior, high levels of inequality are destroying America. And guess what: the elite colleges can't fix it.

What's wrong with the top 10%, or 20%? Everyone's more affluent than they were 40 years ago, even the poor. Why should the difference between 50% and 1% matter if 50% is just fine?

#3 Switzerland is a great place for the Chinese oligarchs to launder money.

Not to mention a freight transit land using the Gotthard Base Ttunnel between Duisburg and Trieste - 'The main purpose of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is to increase local transport capacity through the Alpine barrier, especially for freight, notably on the Rotterdam–Basel–Genoa corridor, and more specifically to shift freight volumes from trucks to freight trains. This both significantly reduces the danger of fatal road crashes involving trucks, and reduces the environmental damage caused by heavy trucks. The tunnel provides a faster connection between the canton of Ticino and the rest of Switzerland, as well as between northern and southern Europe, cutting the Basel/Zürich–Lugano–Milan journey time for passenger trains by one hour (and from Lucerne to Bellinzona by 45 minutes)'

One could almost imagine that a number of people on the Eurasian landmass are thinking about the benefits of having a larger market that is served by extensive rail networks.

Who knows? Maybe some of them are familiar with how the U.S. built out and profited from its rail networks, much of which went through land of no real value, then or now.

#7 -- A much more interesting headline, although not one that would've served business interests as much for propaganda purposes, would've been, "Lobbyists now realize in a lot of ways Obama/Democrats were good for business."

"Lawmakers, meanwhile, have grown charier of business folk. And not just left-leaning Democratic representatives swept onto Capitol Hill in November’s mid-term elections; high drug prices have so angered ordinary Americans that even previously reliable Republican allies in Congress can no longer protect pharmaceutical firms. Tech firms are out of favour on both sides of the aisle. Gone are the days when a well-connected fixer could have a discreet word with a committee chairman and make a client’s problem go away. Social media mean no more “quiet issues”, says Tony Fratto, a former senior official in George W. Bush’s administration and now an adviser at Hamilton Place Strategies."

These poor rich men, unable to con people like they used to. I weep for them.

5. Quite amazed at the lack of detail in the profile of Jokowi. There's a very broad understanding in Indonesia that his policy is driven by the party (PDI-P), and in particular Megawati Sukarnoputri, rather than Jokowi himself. References to wayang kulit (Indonesian shadow puppet plays) are used often.

There's a mistake that often gets made by people who turn up to Indonesia -- and particularly Java -- and that's to take things, such as policy and politicians, at face value. There's always someone pulling the puppet strings somewhere.

Getting a handle on Indonesia is going to become increasingly important for everyone with an interest in trade/polimil/geopolitics, not just those working in East Asia.

2. I really appreciate the work put into the report and research..

At age 70, I'm one of those saying/thinking, "back in the old days, things were easier/better", in my case, graduating high school mid 60s. I tried to find just data on tuition at private and government colleges in Indiana in the 60s and 70s, but that being long pre web, couldn't find anything, and its over a 1000 miles to my old college library where I bet I can access old college records with the aid of librarians. And then hours of "turning every page".

I applied to only one college, early decision/admission, and was accepted. But that was "new". But few applied to even three, perhaps because it required so much manual work? Or if you applied to a State school you'd likely get in to be flunked out of the 250 student classes.

Like the author, I can't figure out what's different from data, but it seems different, but there is little evidence it actually is.

#2. I wonder if anyone breaks out the acceptance rates for American students versus international students.

2. I can tell you what is going on at Georgia Tech. For a long time, the policy of the school was apparently to admit anyone with a high school B average or better (and corresponding SAT scores), and then have extremely tough "weed-out"courses so only about 1/4 of those who entered actually got degrees. But then US News and World Report started considering admission exclusivity in their ratings of colleges. In its drive to improve its rating, Georgia Tech switched to more exclusive admissions.
I was surprised to see no mention of this factor in the article.

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