Saturday assorted links

1. Knur and Spell: the creative destruction of bygone sports.

2. Is The Sheraton censoring Taiwan?

3. Bank of Jamaica uses reggae music to teach monetary policy (WSJ).

4. The origins of various PC ideas.

5. How to avoid currency conversion charges on your credit card use overseas (NYT).

6. China announced fact of the day: “China’s Ministry of Education announced that the country has built the world’s largest higher education system with the gross enrollment ratio in higher education rising to 48.1 percent from 0.26 percent in 1949.”


As an aside, slashdot also has a number of MR-ish stories today (basic income, cars banned, paypal drops libra).

That site hasn’t been relevant in almost 13 years.

How old are you? Boomer alert.

I dropped by for old times sake, and the lineup looked pretty good. Surprising in fact. Would CmdrTaco really have been on top of the UBI?

Maybe Tyler runs it now, as another side gig.

Hey look, since I posted the headline has been displaced with libertarian news!

"That site hasn’t been relevant in almost 13 years."


You don't think it's interesting that a former executive director of the Libertarian Party was caught faking millions of comments opposing net neutrality?

Kind of a neat combination.

We see the libertarian panic over network rules favoring users over big business.

And we see the anti-democratic impulse inherent to their system.

God forbid net neutrality was decided fair and square.

He worked for the Democratic Party and the IRS as well. And was kicked out of the LP over a decade ago. Guy's a long-time PR flack/troll. Funny how they chose to focus on the completely irrelevant history instead of the recent history, eh? Too bad your ideological blinders are still intact, but I dare say nothing can penetrate them any more.

A Democrat? How long ago was that, given:

Not at all surprising to see a libertarian oppose a law that favors big businesses over smaller businesses.

That's just crazy. Neutrality, by any reasonable definition, favors the little.

A little guy with a server, seeking a level playing field.

Neutrality is in the title only. Read further and know the history of it. Start with streaming video taking over almost half the internet traffic and not wanting to pay for their access. Some parts of it were fine, but already covered by current law. Some it was just ignorant basic networking functions.

That's an obvious lie. The consumer, who requests every byte, pays for every byte.

#4 - Nice. But I urge people to extend the story further backwards.
See Ngrams here:

Those were nice, and easy to digest. They certainly make the 1940s look pivotal to American democracy.

The fact that my dad was a veteran of the Pacific, and I grew up very much in a post-WWII household, probably does shape much of my outlook.

My stepdad was in the Pacific - with the Marines in the Solomon Islands - and I grew up in a post WWII household, and I disagree with you on just about everything.

As an aside, my stepdad saw a lot of death and Gore in the Solomon's and he reenlisted. He knew what he was getting into.

They were truly a different generation - first the depression, then the war. Everything that came after 1945 seemed like a precious gift to be appreciated.

So are you stepping up to say that you, son of WWII, don't believe in American democracy as a first principle?

Mouse mouse mouse, tsk tsk, you are totally hopeless.

#2 But I thought Red China was a nice democracy who wants to give us trinkets! Who would have imagined it would be hostile to our friends?

5. Just ran into this the other day. Had to keep a kiddo from running away from the restaurant (toward the play area), so didn't check until after. Defeats the whole purpose of getting a decent credit card for travel.

4. Conformity is the objective of PC. Of course, it's the right that has insisted on conformity, including conformity in opposition to heterodox ideas. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. If one weren't PC back then, one was an outcast. The right today objects to what the right calls PC, but what the right really objects to is non-conformity to 1950s and 1960s orthodoxy.

"Conformity is the objective of PC." True

"Of course, it's the right that has insisted on conformity" Yes, and no. Both sides like to push their views of course. Calling all of the 50s and 60s conservative is odd given all the years FDR had at the helm. More likely the views from then seem conservative to us now, but were leftish from the vantage of 1930. Seems most movements for equality of such go from fighting to get treated as everyone else, winning, being not happy about losing everyone's attention, then to fight for special privileges. Seen it with women, black, and now LGQ.

"Calling all of the 50s and 60s conservative is odd given all the years FDR had at the helm."

This is actually the least stupid part of your comment.

6. So basically an undergraduate degree per se has lost its signaling value. Just like the US. Look for even more intense competition from China but only to get into the very most prestigious Western institutions.

5. Money changers do the devil's work. Jesus tried to expose the money changers, and look what that got him. The author of the article suggests that AMEX avoids the scam of currency conversion. The Temple money changers weren't as bold as the AMEX money changers. In today's tech economy one makes money as a modern money changer (from AMEX to PayPal) or as a modern snoop.

#5...Once again, I have to protest this reading. In Second Temple Judaism, you came to Jerusalem and sacrificed an animal for particular events. When you sacrificed an animal, the law was such that the animal could not be blemished. So, if you lived far from Jerusalem, there was a very good chance that your animal would be blemished en route. In order to be fair to rural folk, the law allowed the local sale of your animal, still unblemished, the proceeds of which sale you took to Jerusalem and purchased an unblemished animal at the Temple. Before you could purchase the animal at the Temple, you had to change your local currency into Jerusalem currency, as there were many currencies in use at that time.

I don't know why Jesus objected to this practice, since it was meant to help the small guy, so to speak. Maybe he didn't like the rate of exchange, or sacrifices, I don't know, but the Money Changers were not, in any obvious sense to me, evil men.

So you favor malefactors of great wealth.

What was the malefaction? Does it say they had great wealth? And that was what Jesus was objecting to?

It is written, "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt pointed out, "The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."

So, Jesus did not believe in sacrifices. I did not know that.

It is not that simple. It is written, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."

Thanks, Mark. Of course, I had to go out and buy some books. Cheers.

The link to the Heterodox Academy (#4) reminded me of a lecture I attended by Jonathan Haidt. Professor Haidt, co-founder at Heterodox Academy, was promoting his book, The Coddling of the American Mind, in which he enumerates the three terrible ideas that are setting up a generation for failure.

The terrible ideas are:
1) What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker
2) Always trust your feelings
3) Life is a battle between good people and evil people

It seems like all political correctness seem to map fairly neatly into one of these three ideas.

Based on some training in economics, though, I would add another terrible idea that has important policy implications:

4) Treat symptoms, not diseases

This is what happens when we take PC ideas and try to solve an underlying problem by treating the superficial ills that most visibly manifest as a result. Take housing costs in San Francisco: we clamor for immediate solutions to the homelessness crisis (the symptom) while failing to address over-burdensome building regulations (one of the many diseases). Rent control may feel like a win in the short term, but in a decade it won't be fun.

Another recent example is this new drug plan being pushed in Congress. Nancy Pelosi wants to cap prices on drugs, and the results will be predictable ( makes a basic but interesting point).

I would be really interested to see someone put together the origin of bad economic ideas in the same easy-to-read format as the Heterodox Academy used for PC ideas. It might be pretty hard to do because bad economic ideas have probably been around a lot longer than better ideas. As an example, I recall reading somewhere that in ancient Persia there were no markets--and I'm not talking about abstract markets, I'm talking about a lack of physical meeting places of buyers and sellers. The economy was centrally planned to an astonishing degree, millennia before Marx. Anyone else heard this? I can't find the source but I remember coming across it.

Writings about the lack of markets in ancient Persia date back to Herodotus.

The ones in that generation who believe that 1) adversity has made them tougher and superior to others, 2) that they are rational, data informed, fact based decision makers, 3) that we are beyond good and evil (and their opponents are simply stupid, not grandly evil)... seem worse than those with Haidt's 3 listed failings. If what you've provided is a fair summary of his thought, it seems fairly orthogonal to what is actually wrong.

Regarding economies which were centrally planned, it's hard to know how to analyse this idea in ancient states. Lack of marketplaces ("markets") may not be synonymous with a lack of private enterprise (also "markets"), and a relatively small private sector may also not not be indicative of any attempt to actually plan the whole economy centrally, but a high level of state organisation and ability to capture taxes in a world of little surplus.

I don't know about Persia, but claims that the Roman Empire lacked a "market" driven trade system have been found wanting - On the other side of the ledger, the Inca Empire is held up as an example of tightly controlled ancient central planning that worked.

#4....Just so Hayek is put in perspective..

"Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 2: The Mirage of Social Justice" by F. A. Hayek

"There is no reason why in a free society government should not assure to all protection against severe deprivation in the form of an assured minimum income, or a floor below which nobody need to descend. To enter into such an insurance against extreme misfortune may well be in the interest of all; or it may be felt to be a clear moral duty of all to assist, within the organized community, those who cannot help themselves. So long as such a uniform minimum income is provided outside the market to all those who, for any reason, are unable to earn in the market an adequate maintenance, this need not lead to a restriction of freedom, or conflict with the Rule of Law. The problems with which we are here concerned arise only when the remuneration for services rendered is determined by authority, and the impersonal mechanism of the market which guides the direction of individual efforts is thus"

I feel like there is some inaccurate interpretation of #6. Compulsory education in China only goes through 9th grade, and large, wealthy cities like Shenzhen or Nanjing don’t even have enough seats at high schools for half their student age population.

6. I scored 18 straight hole in ones on the golf course.

like john coltrane

yo, can i ply the violin?

#1: I'm guessing that Knur and Spell was related to golf ... or maybe one of them developed from the other, just as rugby developed from "association football" (soccer) and baseball from either rounders or some other English games of the 18th or 19th century.

In most cases, one version of the sport becomes most popular and the others are uh creatively destroyed. The first basketball game was played 9-on-9 and 6-person girls basketball survived in some states into the 1980s, but nowadays, despite minor differences in shot clocks, 3-point line distances, quarters vs halves, etc. there's pretty much a single standard game of basketball. Similarly golf seems to have obliterated Knur and Spell. And for much of the 1800s baseball had at least two major versions, the "New York game" and "Massachusetts baseball" also known as "town ball". Eventually, like the Yankees vanquishing the Red Sox, the New York game took over and town ball disappeared.

What's interesting is a tiny handful of sports where the local variations survive, I'm thinking especially of American and Australian football vs the more worldwide standard rugby. And maybe we could count Canadian football too, it's more similar to American football than anything else but arguably has enough differences to count as a different sport.

But most other major sports -- soccer/football, basketball, volleyball, rugby, cricket, tennis and table tennis, golf, etc. etc. -- have a single world-wide version with only minor variations by region or league.

Standardization of sports had a lot to do with the development of railroads, which allowed teams to travel to away games against distant opponents, requiring an agreed upon set of rules. The British and other English-speakers had the first dense railway networks, so they spent a lot of time at conventions of sports officials in railroad station hotels agreeing upon standardized rules. (Sometimes they couldn't agree: rugby and soccer stem from the inability of representatives to agree at a convention in c. 1873.)

So they wound up making most of the sports of the modern world in, largely, the second half of the 19th Century.

Idiosyncratic local sports endure here and there in England, like the Wall Game at Eton and the Royal Shrovetide Football Match in Ashbourne. Presumably, 200 years ago, England had hundreds of different ballgames.

There was also 6-on-6 women's basketball -- quite a different game -- that was played in a couple of states until the mid 1990s:

Australian women play netball, which is kind of like old-time American girl's 6 on 6 basketball. It attracts more feminine women, whereas modern 5 on 5 women's basketball became an increasingly lesbian sport at the top level since the WNBA was founded in the 1990s.

Feminists thought the old, more lady-like 6 girl bball was demeaning...

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