Saturday assorted links


Reminds me of the legal axiom, and you see this in investments too, marketing, etc: "First in time is first in right". First!

3. Assume a fall out shelter.

Wikipedia will be one of many "thingies" rendered null and void when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.

Not clear if you noticed that "revenant epidemic" was one possible "terminal event" noted...

#2. In arguing that facial recognition backlash is a technopanic, Thierer gives this supposed example of poor decision-making by the House of Representatives, "Or the fact that the “Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006,” which would have banned all social networking sites in publicly funded schools and libraries, received a whopping 410 votes in the House before dying in the Senate." Welp... I think it's 50/50 that we can label the House's vote as either prescient or imprudent... jury is still out.

Also, this: "Or the fact the dozens of state attorneys general tried to impose mandatory age verification on all social networking sites in the name of stopping MySpace from becoming a “predator’s playground.” Or efforts to ban Google Glass before it was even released." Maybe these aren't the worst ideas.

Seems that the arguments against facial recognition, especially when it is employed by the government (see recent examples used in airplane boarding), are the same that those at Mercatus would use to argue against the no-fly list and gun-owner registries.

"That is horrifying. But the United States is not China; we have faced the challenge of government misuse of new tools before and used constitutional protections, targeted restrictions, and cultural norms to push back against oppressive uses of technology." Must be why I don't have to take my shoes off at the airport and how the Border Patrol can stop people 100 miles away from the border and ask for proof of citizenship (oh... damn it).

I've never seen an article from Mercatus so blasé about potential government misuse of technology and so optimistic about creating appropriate regulation and enforcing constitutional protections. I think this is one huge example of mood affiliation from a guy who is in love with technology.

Not sure what your point is, without reading between the lines, but the trend these days is for government intervention. Even liberarian Reason magazine had an article why CCTV at stop lights should be banned (as they have been in Texas this week) because CCTV cameras are largely revenue enhancing rather than safety enhancing (there is sometime an increase in rear collisions as cars slam on brakes to avoid getting caught on CCTV)

#3 makes me very happy

#4: Is productivity a good thing for politicians to target? Like GDP, it seems relatively abstract and gameable, and I would guess the measure would become decreasingly predictive of real economic achievement as governments have higher incentives to generate nominal increases regardless of underlying utility gains.

I think the common sense conclusion is that what economists call "productivity" has no real relation to what the general public would call productivity. I cannot believe for instance that New Zealand productivity in the time when smart phones and the internet have revolutionised society, has not seen improvements in the way that products and services are delivered. I don't believe business are that stupid as to not be able to take advantage of these new technologies, or the market so un-competitive that they don't have to.

Economists are pretty much agreed on the idea that the standard economic measures of productivity don't capture product quality improvements (e.g. smart phone vs. dumb phone; uber vs. taxis) correctly. See Marty Feldstein:

But why would that distort the comparison between countries? Surely Eastern European productivity is also being under-measured.

Because, as someone else (NNM) said below, New Zealand has had a lot of real estate inflation that goes into the price deflator and eastern Europe has not. The general understatement of productivity growth and the NZ-specific understatement due to distortion of the price deflator are separate issues, and I conflated them.

Couple other points about NZ:

1) Relatively low productivity compared to OECD for NZ is long standing and not a consequence of post-recession shifts:

2) NZ, like the US but at much lower GDP/capita, is an outlier in individual consumption shares of GDP - European levels of PPP individual consumption, and US proportioned non-individual consumption shares of GDP.

(Needless to say, this is not really the case for NZ's "productivity neighbours"! They're not NZ's consumption neighbours, just as they are its HDI neighbours -

My hot take on this then would be that NZ, like the US, has largely rejected non-individual consumption policies that raise GDP (Ireland's import-export tax haven status, bigger European government), but unlike the US, is much more limited in its natural GDP due to distance from world markets and its relatively small population. Possibly this helps explain lower 'productivity' and lower 'productivity growth'? ('Labor Productivity' being essentially gdp/hour worked).

5. Consider the number of "experts" whose reputations are inflated due to repeated appearances in media. What makes someone an expert? Repeated appearances in media. Fox News is in a class (?) by itself. Imbeciles impersonating experts until they become experts. Or consider Donald Trump. He's an expert in business after a long a career of failure in business, his reputation built on a media created image that bears nothing to reality. In economics, Larry Kudlow is an idiot when it comes to economics but has ascended to one of the highest positions in economics because of a reputation inflated by hundreds of appearances in media as an economic expert.

The "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" effect.

“Caddy got the box and set it on the floor and opened it. It was full of stars. When I was still, they were still. When I moved, they glinted and sparkled. I hushed.”

Are we doing random quotes? I'll take Marshall over Faulkner.

"Whether or not certain people admit it it’s pretty obvious Trump has been involved in a lot of criminal activity. Yet the GOP is 100% behind him. So it makes news when even relatively obscure GOPs break ranks. Not complicated. Nor’s anyone hiding the fact of lockstep gop support."

PS: Making you cry like a girl isn't a crime.

Peace! Prosperity! Putting Americans First Again! What's not to like?

“Demanding to Know Why He Allowed President Trump to Get Elected, Dems Subpoena God.”

Subpoena all his tax returns and all his bank records and maybe they'll find some crime. That's how it worked for Stalin and the Spanish Inquisition. Likely, Trump will get six tax refunds.

GOP support isn't the issue. Independent support counts. They are 80% behind Trump - polls say they do not want impeachment.

You and stuttering Nanny Pelosi need to provide a list of bona fide crimes or stick a sock in it.

You're even more stupider than rayward.

I apologize, Anonymous.

Rayward is in a class of his own. You're dumb but he's far more dumber.

I can only speak for myself, but storks get eaten by snakes.

You may believe that, but be aware of where you lie ..

Personally, I thought I once felt the whole world inside. But you know what it was? It was I swallowed the sky.


Or Nichols,

"Now, the President shows us horrifying evidence of, as @Peter_Wehner once put it, a 'disordered personality,' and the GOP and their voter base applaud because it's evidence to them that Trump is just a Regular Guy Who Talks Like Them. This is not only immoral, but stupid."

I've been to red hook. I've seen brian scalibrini live. I've been to the MET. I'm dope.

Or Amira,

"This isn't funny. This is a delusional person broadcasting his insanity and nobody has the courage to stand up to him or remove him from power."

As indicated by no-one responding to you other than Efim Polenov literary non sequiturs (even the MR trolls aren't biting), people decreasingly care about these comments in the absence of apparent consequences. Certainly not to the degree of talk of removing the democratically elected US president without any legal pretext. (As much as you, anonymous, self proclaimed defender of both democratic process and Rule of Law, might be interested in that.)

E.g - - "Trump (so far) likes to talk military, but not to use it--which is a major improvement upon W and most likely upon what Hillary would have done." President 'Bone Spurs' does seem less likely thus far to actually start any wars than any of his predecessors...

We are reaching a crux, and "the madman seems safe" is a very bad answer.

(It is also simply true that if Cohen is in jail for things in which Trump was a co-conspirator, crime is established.)

This silo not withstanding.

4. Good news, everyone! Less Baumol effect.

(Or at least a place to test the hypothesis.)

None of them had a hint or clue until after the financial world collapsed in 2008. And, ten years later they don't know why it happened.

I had to look up the Baumol effect. Maybe its value is it explains how intellectuals (all hypotheses and theories) get pay raises but can't ever "get" the Real World.

Re #4 - Michael Reddell is concerned about the impact of immigration on productivity.

Here's what Michael Reddell wrote at the link:

"Re population, of course we can make a great deal of difference. SImply change immigration policy, and cut back the non-citizen inflows to more normal advanced country leves (perhaps a third or less than what we take now).

You are right, of course, that there is a degree of repetition here. I will probably go on doing so until there is some sign our politicians, their media and business cheerleaders, etc start taking the failure seriously.

For some fuller discussion, see my Papers and Speeches page. This was my first substantial paper on the issue – causes, consequences etc (but subject to the constraint that i was then still a public servant)

or these

Why New Zealand languishes Notes that extend the analytical framework used in the March 2013 paper into a (brief) speculative treatment of a longer run of New Zealand economic history. May 2013
“Thinking Big: And drifting slowly ever further behind” Address to the New Zealand Initiative Members’ Retreat, Auckland, March 2016 Drifting slowly ever further behind NZI retreat presentation 17 March 2016
Think Big: Auckland, immigration, and the absence of income growth , AUT Policy Brief, May 2016
People, land, and (lots of) sea: New Zealand’s persistent economic underperformance Address to the Fabian Society, Wellington, 20 May 2016
Distance still matters hugely: an economist’s case for much-reduced non-citizen immigration to New Zealand, Address to LEANZ seminar, Wellington, 26 June 2017
An economist’s scepticism about large-scale immigration to New Zealand, Address to Rotary Club of Port Nicholson, 5 July 2017
Large-scale non-citizen immigration to New Zealand has been making us poorer , Address to Mana 3A, Plimmerton, 18 September 2017"

#5 Yes. That's the problem.

But how many NBER papers fail to replicate?

1: I thought that the evolutionary superiority of sexual production over asexual had been demonstrated decades ago. The advantages are so strong that it crosses species, as the research on horizontal gene transfer has shown.

The implications for neural networks are more subtle. The science fiction version of AI will indeed require software that not only learns, it mutates. But we're years away from that, current AI programs work only in very narrow situations and the major updates (mutations) are controlled by their programmers, rather than being self-evolving.

A seriously anthropocentric comment. Plants are by far the "superior" kingdom by mass. Bacteria are by number (either of species or individuals (units)). Plant reproduction may be asexual or sexual or both. Bacteria are asexual, but exchange genetic material. How you get from this to "the evolutionary superiority of sexual [re]production ...had been demonstrated decades ago." is beyond me. Would you make the same claim about blondes? LOL!

4) I wonder how much of New Zealand's underperformance is attributable to the effects of its recent housing bubble on the relevant deflator denominators. Just going by the eye test of a tourist, it's hard for me to believe that New Zealand really belongs in that particular company in terms of general living standards.

Excellent comment, reflecting the kind of technical knowledge that economists should have before commenting on data but don't always.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

I quickly found a job with a firm that shares my world view: The Democrat Party.

PS: I have photographic evidence of Trump meeting with Russian agents Bill and Hillary Clinton.

PPS: See you on TV on my new, opinion show on CNN.

5. I was going to say that one of my biggest issues with online reviews, especially yelp, is that people are too extreme in their assessments.
Such as some dish was the best thing ever if it was simply delicious or it was the worst service ever if the server didn’t constantly smile like a freak every time he approached the table.

I find YELP in New York to be especially brutal. There reviewers rip apart restaurants serving very good food because it wasn’t the best thing ever. Or you take a market like Orlando or Charlotte and everyone there is price sensitive so as long as the portion sizes are huge and it tastes good enough then everyone is happy...

Last I read (admittedly a few years ago now) the average restaurant review was 4+ stars out of 5. Average! I can't speak to NYC culture, but nationally people give restaurants too much credit (pun - since one obvious reason is sunk costs).

1. In favor of sexual reproduction.


Multi-cellulars animals left the sea and carry their environment inside the skin. Spawning became impossible. Sexual reproduction is simply an adapted asexual spawning.

4. Well, New Zealand put a lot of effort into becoming competitive. This may not have been specifically what they were aiming for though.

1. Sexual reproduction wins because fitness includes the ability to adapt to conditions not yet experienced or foreseen. By mixing genes you get a much wider variety of characteristics in offspring, and some of those will be preadapted to those conditions and the species will survive. I think this idea is more than 50 years old since I learned it in school and that was 50 years ago.

Yes, but do you understand genetic cross-over during mitosis? They don't teach that in school much. It's why you and your siblings are often nothing like the same. See:

I understand it very superficially. Thanks for the link.

One shares 50% of one's genetic information with one's (full) siblings, the same fraction that you share with a parent. This is a Mendelian principle, and does not require more advanced knowledge to derive. I think (but am not sure) that chromosomal crossover is involved in the technical explanation of why that's correct.

1) I thought the advantage for sexual reproduction was as a strategy against a fast adapting adversary (eg a blight or pathogen that can go through several orders of magnitude more reproduction cycles) in the same timeframe that the sexual reproducing organism goes through one. Ie, diversification to reduce risk.

Who was it that said only "fools believe there's (just) one reason for *anything*"?

In at least one instance, the same one who demanded over-precision in the language used in short thumb-typed comments.

I remember reading an article in a major monthly (perhaps the Atlantic or Harper's) a few years before Hurricane Katrina, warning that the levee and water management system in New Orleans was inadequate, and that in the event of a major hurricane the outcome could be catastrophic. Quite the technopanic! Sure glad no one paid any attention to that Chicken Little! Imagine if Louisiana had taken the money used to fatten the profits of the private prison industry and had instead used it for flood prevention--now that would have been a catastrophe!

In his 1989 masterpiece, _The Control of Nature_, John McPhee devoted one of the three chapters to New Orleans and the Army Corps of Engineers' sisyphean task of trying to prevent New Orleans from being inundated by the Mississippi River. His book emphasized the threat from the river wanting to change its course as it has repeatedly done rather than the threat from hurricanes but the bottom line was the same: New Orleans was pretty much doomed.

John McPhee is one of my favorite writers - Annals of the Former World, Coming Into the Country, The Founding Fish, ... all incredible.

Thank you for bringing McPhee to our attention. I just ordered two of his books!

1. The author did not define what he meant by “outperformed.” It seems he is making a call about success without defining success. What if the criterion was the total number of organisms, or the total number of DNA base pairs?

#3: Just to be sure you all have noticed: "This page is intended as humor. It is not, has never been, nor will ever be, a Wikipedia policy or guideline. Rather, it illustrates standards or conduct that are generally not accepted by the Wikipedia community."

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