Friday assorted links


2. Prophets of the Marginal Revolution: last month I suggested acquiring Greenland.
I see Trump pick a lot of policy points off the blogs. I think he has a person doing searches for him.

The only reason CNN ran that story -- and why NPR has spent hours discussing it today -- is to mock Trump by calling it a stupid idea.

And here's Tyler boasting that he had the same idea last month...

It can be a good joke *and* a stupid idea.

Strategically Greenland is very important. AND China is trying to acquire power and position there. In fact if it were possible buying Greenland and making it a territory would be an incredibly good idea.

Greenland does have free healthcare.

So it would be pretty American to buy it up and then first take away the healthcare for the citizens, replace it with something more costly and unnecessarily complex, and then develop military bases there. Also will escalate any disputes on islands with Canada.

2. Though Trump sees Red at the thought of going Green.

A Trump Hotel and Conference Center in Nuuk would be the crown jewel in his hospitality empire

Better to have it at Kangerlussuaq, since it's the only place with a runway long enough for large commercial jets. It's a jump-off place for watching glacier calving north of Illulisat.

They're gettintg the country club and golf course

I was old the last glacier melted in 1987.

It don't mean nothing. We have only six months remaining before Climate Change kills all of us.

Only panic can save us now!

Quickly - take the virgins to the volcano before we all come to our senses!

#2 Interesting fact. In the 1950s and 60s during Operation IceWorm and Operation Chrome Dome there were more Americans on Greenland (albeit under lease from Denmark) than any other group of addition to Greenlands largest number of inhabitants, fur seals.

Thule Air Base is still a major Northern operating transit point both civilian and military.

Denmark's stewardship is fascinating to me. It's 100x bigger then Denmark, with 1/100,000 the population. I can see the prestige value of controlling it, but prestige value can have a $$$ attached to it as well.

Come on Denmark, let us feel the fiber of your fabric. Throw out a number....

"It's 100x bigger then Denmark". *than*

Denmark has a deep connection to Greenland, land of ancient adventure.

A prized assignment for Danes who join the military is to be assigned to the dog sled patrols on Greenland. Months isolated, in extreme weather and conditions. Someone sent me a photo of the advertisement that Ernest Shackleton placed in a newspaper offering danger and adventure and fame. It is the same impulse.

My grandfather, who was an engineer on oil tankers, gave me Peter Freuchen's Book of the Seven Seas when I was maybe 8. Which was a fascinating book, including my first acquaintance with the Roosevelt family as drug dealers.

Though to be honest, Francis Chichester's Along The Clipper Way (a collection of tales about sailing) was a much better book that first year at Goshen Scout Camp.

Cool story, brah

I guess the reference to the drug dealing Roosevelt family is just too banal at the MR comments section, as remarked on by a Danish Arctic explorer.

And these days, who remembers the glories of the British anyways - 'Sir Francis Charles Chichester KBE (17 September 1901 – 26 August 1972) was a British pioneering aviator and solo sailor.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for becoming the first person to sail single-handed around the world by the clipper route and the fastest circumnavigator, in nine months and one day overall in 1966–67.'

Was boy scout camp where you had your first gay experience? Is that why you brought it up?

Yep, incel sounds about right.

However, I guess the connection between two notable maritime/explorer figures who were authors was too obscure to pick up on.

But to whet your seemingly boundless appetite for revealing details of other people's lives, there is also a memory of reading Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-tiki in elementary school, checking it out of the library.

As for reading recommendations, No Ship May Sail is a the sort of story not told often about Jefferson's policies, with various subplots which would likely be appreciated by a number of commenters here, though probably not many of the British ones.

Jefferson was my favorite non-President politician as well. He wrote a great...document.

Go to joe to send Joe at

All tongue-in-cheek aside, massive real estate transactions - both real and hypothetical - fascinate me. For instance, Alaska. There was nothing 'folly' about its purchase except the ever-lasting regret of the Russians. Calculate Alaska's worth to the USA. What about the Louisiana Purchase?

Hypothetically, let's say Greenland's governing body and Denmark did 'throw out a number'. In my opinion, They could ask a price equivalent to 1 full year of the USA's GDP, and it would still be worth it. Why?

1) Contiguity. It and Canada bracket the entire Northern part of Canada...and the continent for that matter. Furthermore, it places the North Arctic 3/4 within the domain of the USA and its allies

2) If global warming is a short-term problem (as in centuries) and not a long term one arctic real estate has nowhere to go but up.

3) Freshwater. The whole thing is one big glacier.

4) Logistics. Among Alaska's great advantages is its strategic position and access at the North of the biggest and most economically important ocean on planet earth. Hawaii as mid-Pacific La-Grange point does the same thing. Greenland could do for the USA for the Atlantic what Alaska does for the Pacific.

I could go on, but acquiring Greenland would be a coup for the USA. A great acquisition if it were ever possible. I would be among its first entrepreneurs and investors without a doubt.

(p.s. Greenland's Coat of Arms is so Brutal it's awesome)

That web site calculated the most federally dependent states. Alaska with 700,000 people comes in seventh, preceded by the mostly ifailed confederate states.

Yes, we got a little oil, but we get a lot more of it from fracking.

That website looks exceedingly silly to me.

The problem with their methodology is that they are counting federal spending against the state it takes place in, even if all states benefit from it. New Mexico is always at the bottom of these lists, but that's largely because it's a low population state with a disproportionate amount of military spending, due to several testing grounds, like White Sands. The fact that 12% of the state's employment is military-related doesn't tell us anything about how federally dependent they are.

How about a century-lease rather than an outright sale?

Minimal regret if it turns out to be valuable!

$10 billion would be $200k per Greenlander. If we made an offer presumably someone in the Inatsisartut could introduce legislation to facilitate a plebiscite. If the population were to accept our offer Denmark really wouldn't be in a position to challenge it.

Hold that thought. $0 million would be $0 per resident of Crimea. If the population were to accept Putin's offer Ukraine really wouldn't be in a position to challenge it.

Tell the Danes we'll trade them Puerto Rico for Greenland.

And Illinois. Possibly Calizuela.

Why would Denmark want Puerto Rico? The US Virgin Islands, which are right next door, used to be the Danish West Indies. Denmark sold them to the US in 1917 for $25 million.

Doesn't the US effectively own Greenland already anyway?

The US has a military base on Greenland. Denmark is in NATO. Denmark has 5 million people and if push comes to shove will do what the US tells it to.

In feudal terms, the US is like the overlord or paramount lord, the monarch who holds allodial title to allies' lands where it has bases, and the allies are like tenants.

Under Trump accounting, maintaining a base on Greenland right now is paying for Denmark's defense. Under Trump math, it's much better to both pay for the military base and pay Denmark additional money to buy Greenland. The result is the same, but we end up paying more money. Winning!

I think profitable exploitation of Greenland's natural is limited by Denmark. And the US green lobby could make these resources MORE difficult to exploit.

Best strategy for a maximum Greenland ROI:
Purchasse it - BUT sell it to Canada for a loony. Canada may have single-payer healthcare, but when it comes to energy, drilling and mining, they're to the right of the Saudis and Chileans. Have Ontario and Quebec bid for the most useful way to generate Greenland electricity: CANDU nuke power or a vast hydro-electric dam.

Once we buy Greenland we can get to the real fun: arguing about the zoning regs

You have to get Iceland and the Faroe Islands too, before you can build any houses.

The lot sizes for igloos are quite manageable, but regarding building heights, fascia, and materials regs? Watch out!

That's quite funny.

1. Medical science (maybe a broader/narrower definition of life science -- I don't know) has been made less effective with lots of MDs wanting to be scientists. If MDs stuck to clinical work and left research to others, I think the enterprise would be a lot more efficient (I am sure there are exceptions).

offering statehood is not the same as BUYING!!!! hello.

I'm not sure why you would brag about Trump agreeing with you...

3. Exponents-the new neo liberal magazine-I read the piece on Yang and that was cringe worthy bad.

It’s fine to call his policy proposals dangerous or super dangerous, maybe they are. However such charged up language deserves more than a glib one sentence explanation.

It just seems like another banal center left publication trying to project itself as so much more...

Exponents: like The Economist...but for Millenials...but dumber

Seems to be a likely description. Folk who self describe as "neo liberal" and to "reclaim the term", tend to be an odd, alienating bunch, and yes often "centre left" in the manner of being enthusiastic for lots of immigration and bureaucratic government jobs for minority groups successful in education, less so in the sense of being actually egalitarian or a proposing a worker's state.

So attaching this rather negatively viewed term and odd crowd to centre-left politics seems instrumentally no bad thing.

per website
In 1946, the United States sent a political delegation to the kingdom of Denmark. Their objective: acquire the island of Greenland. The US was prepared to pay $100,000,000, about $1.2 billion in today’s dollars.

#1: How do they define "life sciences"? How do they define "slowing down"? It's an interesting piece to think about, but without some actual definitions and limits on the parameters of the study, it's firmly in the realm of "Cute, but not important".

This is not insignificant. Genetics, paleontology, ecology, environmental impacts analysis, even pesticide development may all fall under this umbrella, if defined broadly enough. And multi-million dollar decisions are made based on each of these every day. "Converging with the truth" is rather critical here.

Further: 60 seems like an abysmally low number. Interviews are a horrible way to gather data. This tells you what a small, almost certainly biased subset thinks (if you don't understand why it's almost certainly biased, you don't understand statistics).

#1 I found the article cringe worthy. Anyone who accepts as fact the idea that "infinite resources will produce truth" is someone who's analytical competence is sorely lacking. Quite sad. Although I don't disagree that peer review has serious problems (but consider the paraphrase that peer review is worst form of paper quality vetting except for all the others.) He claims the Cell, Nature and Science papers are more likely to be wrong than papers published in specialty journals. I strongly doubt this is true unless we exclude the accept-anything-for-the-right-price journals that are multiplying like weeds (especially for Developing World authors). He suggests we compare the "progress" of any year in the first half of the 20th Century to 2018 and if we do so then we will 'probably' conclude progress is increasing. I assume he does that to avoid the 1953 Nature paper by Watson & Crick. OK, challenge accepted. What paper in 2018 compares to the Avery, et. al. 1944 paper on DNA? I doubt there is one, but of course arguing about the importance of something that was published 75 years ago to something that was published maybe 9-21 months ago is bankrupt - importance is something that accumulates with time (for the historically most significant discoveries).

"He claims the Cell, Nature and Science papers are more likely to be wrong than papers published in specialty journals. I strongly doubt this is true..."

I disagree. The journals you cite are generalist journals, and in some cases the editors encourage debate. If you publish both sides of a debate, you're GOING to publish a paper that's wrong. Specialist journals (say, Paleontologia Electronica or various museum journals) are going to be much less inclined to publish controversies. And at least in paleontology, the majority of work is fairly routine--descriptions of species, descriptions of fossil sites, and the like. I imagine other fields are likewise. That stuff won't get into "Nature", but it'll get into a specialty publication--and it's vastly less likely to be proven wrong. It's one thing to be wrong in a vast, complex paradigm shifting theory; it's another entirely to screw up a taxonomic description.

The issue is, is being wrong a bad thing in science? Obviously we don't want to perpetuate flawed theories, but on the other hand, science by its nature is on the cutting edge of human knowledge. In fact, the best science is step beyond that edge. In such cases, being wrong is inevitable. We literally don't know the answer; in many cases we don't know what the question is! We shouldn't treat "wrong" and "flawed" as the same. A paper can easily be wrong merely because additional data demonstrates its conclusions to be incorrect. Happened to me a few times a few times in the past.

I also think that the push towards "importance" is flawed. Scientific advancements require a broad and deep knowledge base to be made. The majority of science is routine work--describing new species, refining theoretical models, etc. That stuff isn't any less important than paradigm-shifting theories; in fact, it is necessary for such theories to exist.

Put another way: What evidence is there that "significance" is any valid measure of progress in science?

#2...I’d be for spending some serious coin on buying Venice and fixing that water problem. Plus, according to some experts, they can teach us about effectively running a government.

#3: Now I'm waiting for a left-ish counterpart to that magazine, "Logarithms".

My comment was in jest but I just discovered that "Pacific Observer", a sort of west coast version of the Atlantic but less prone to spectacle and tabloid journalism, is ceasing publication as of today. It's funder abruptly decided to stop its financial support. So that's a loss of one magazine; it wasn't overtly partisan but had a generally center-left vibe.

Prompted by a remark reportedly made by my husband's high school math teacher, who let the kids watch movies of dubious appropriateness sometimes, how about a monthly magazine with an emphasis on herstory, "Parabolas"?

2. Maybe Thiel and Cowen aren't one. The last time America chose to expand its sphere of influence the immediate result was about 1 million casualties. But that paled in comparison to the casualties to come later in the war between the superpowers who would challenge the right to control the area. The north Atlantic today offers the same challenge today as the earth warms and the spheres of influence expand. How many are you willing to sacrifice?

We can beat the Danes with one hand tied behind our backs. Those socialists won't know what hit them.

#2 On the contrary. Trump picking up the suggestion shows how base the idea was in the first place.

1. The best link I've seen here in sometime. Thanks, Tyler!

On the Greenland thing ---- which, by the way, is likely a real historical detail (i.e., Trump or one of his people actually was reading Marginal Revolution on Greenland and a couple weeks later ... Greenland was offered a chance to join the country which rejoices at having Alaska with our indigenous Aleutian brethren as a FULLY EQUAL kingdom .... DOES THAT MAKE SENSE SIBERIANS AND ALASKANS AND INUITS AND GREENLANDERS MIGHT AS WELL ALL LIVE IN THE SAME COUNTRY

let me tell you three little stories, starting with specifics and ending with media generalities.
Specifics. When I was a staff officer at Centcom, back in the very early 90s, the memories were fresh of the special forces guys in Grenada whose government radios did not work and who used their FUCKING CREDIT CARDS TO GET ON THE PHONE ON COMMERCIAL LINES and call someone who works with the artillery forces, miles away, TO AIM A LITTLE FARTHER ---- and I successfully proposed that there be AT LEAST ONE PERSON AT CENTCOM HQ who spent half the night or half the day at the relevant component HQ doing nothing else besides making sure there were no fuck ups in the communications between HQ and the components .....

Still specific, but less specific: Details of uncontestedly spectacularly interesting (in the way EVERY BABY is interesting to every mother AND EVERY ONE OF US EVEN THOSE OF US WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN LOVED BY A FELLOW HUMAN BEING are interesting to God, God bless his heart ....) aspects of literary history .....
Young literary scholars often start by being fascinated by Dickens, Hugo, Pushkin (19th Century) (in my day I have known DOZENS of young literary scholars, they are a fun group of people to be around, trust me) but when they get a little older, and more interested in people who were alive when people we all know were young, they are interested in whoever they think it was who was a great writer in TIMES THAT AT LEAST ONE OF US CAN REMEMBER (sad to say, there has never been a great writer in these times, to this day .... lots of people who were fun to listen to for a while, but as for being a "great writer", they are more rare than RICH LADIES WHO DRIVE AROUND TOWN LOOKING FOR PUPPIES SADLY SITTING IN THE RAIN ( a Schulz reference)....anyway, I am a huge fan of Undset, Peguy, Tolkien, Proust, Joyce, Stevens, and a couple of others, like Transtromer, and Bernanos, but they were all too humble, none of them tried to outdo Dante or Homer with the sprezzatura God gave them, and that is what they should have done (sad!) .....

Completely general: I believe in my heart of hearts that Ramanujan, for example, had a mystical attachment to numbers and he may have been no more intelligent than the average woman or man in some long forgotten rom/com comedy .....
I used to get mocked for saying that, on this website, on Greg Cochran's website, on other websites, and now there is this huge little internet dustup that NOBODY CARES ABOUT and Taleb, of all people, is repeating what I said ----
maybe Ramanujan was not all that bright maybe he JUST LIKED NUMBERS
God bless him, if I had a son or a daughter who were not all that bright I would be

Proverbs 8
is the Corvette of Bible chapters

as always, if you are reading this before it is deleted, feel free to pray to God that all those people who pray for me
will pray for you too
and there really are people in this world who understand that
and who offer up prayers and suffering for people you care about

I know a lot of people like that

I spend a lot of time going on about Ramanujan this and Dickens that but I know in my heart

everyone reading this is as close to the truth as Ramanujan or Dickens and the truth is this


God loves you and God loves everyone you love just as much, and maybe even more, as you love them

Please follow the TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR ONE WEEK if you are confused by someone who is telling you


Rehnquist was the only one who voted the right way for the right reason, but that was then and this is now, and we are better men than our ancestors

It goes without saying

I Remember

The sad thing is that I can't think of any reason anyone in Greenland would vote to become part of the US. Who in his or her right mind would vote to be ruled by the Washington political class? I suspect that many states would choose independence if a vote were held.

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