Sunday assorted links


Is this socialism? Please explain Thank You West Virginia's Billionaire Governor Maxes Out On Farm Subsidy
The family of Jim Justice has received $125,000 in soybean and corn subsidies, the max allowed.

It's much more complicated than that. The federal and to a lesser extent the states regulate the shit out of farms. As a result farmers are often forced to do thinks contrary to common sense and their business interests. That is the intent. But sometimes the negative side effects will create havoc in other areas that the federal government regulates so they use incentives/subsidies to get farmers to do specific things. So, it isn't socialism so much as it is different regulatory authorities and agendas conflicting in amusing and bizarre ways such that we must pay the farmer to do what they would have done anyway if we just left them alone.

I’m disappointed with the metric “at war.” This is too crude, a dummy variable hiding an iceberg of differences under the waterline. This is poor statistics. And as someone who uses econometrics daily, it’s a bit offensive.

Much more interesting would be:

Casualty rate in wars vs male population
Percent chance of being drafted at 18+
Percentage of casualties being draftees
Distance in miles for battles from geographic center of country
Threat of enemy countries towards actual population

“At war” obfuscates more than it tells, and the effect is dominated by certain incidents pushing the p value of the variable to undeserved statistical reliability.

Just my 2 cents.

I question the question. Reported happiness is a reported state of mind. So what?

I know. Some of us love the smell of napalm in the morning.

4. Pho Ga is actually very traditional. The hardest core version I've had was chicken breast, but with the heart and liver presented on a side plate.

Totally agree on tripe and tendon being missing. Chewy goodness.

4. I personally find the live fish tank only signals second class, not top flight, Chinese food.

A better signal is like 100 specials listed on the wall in Chinese characters only.

4. For all these, but Korean especially, the median age of waitresses should be 65.

5. New Yorker profile of Gabriel Zucman.

For the next several years, Zucman followed two tracks. The first led deeper into the mists of offshore banking systems. In obscure monthly reports of the Swiss central bank he discovered that foreigners held $2.5 trillion in wealth there (Zucman would eventually calculate that $7.6 trillion, or eight per cent of global household wealth, was held in tax havens, three-quarters of it undeclared) and that these immense sums were mostly being diverted to mutual funds incorporated in Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, and Ireland. The second track—the work he did first with Piketty and then with the Piketty collaborator and Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez—mapped the acceleration of inequality around the world and in the United States.


Very little of that capital stuff in the Cayman Islands. It is mostly a vacation spot. So the government of the Cayman operates a computer and manipulites digits. Who cares?

Evidently we care because for some reason the bankers over here, where the capital stuff is, obey the digits in the Cayman Islands! Why would the Fed care about digits in the Caymans when the capital stuff is here? Because we get an advantage, we get to carry more debt, we get to avoid current payments and put them off to later. We can only do this because we sell currency services to the world.

The lesson is, we enforce monopoly, we cause more wealth inequality because we want the monopoly on global money. We thus enforce the compounding of wealth. Then we blame the other tribe.

If we want wealth to stay concident with the capital stuff then we should pay our bills on time.

You seem to be stuck in the 60s like me, thinking capital is stuff like factories, and wealth is like owning factories.

In free lunch economics, most wealth is monopoly power, with wealth created by rent extraction on the production and sales of stuff from factories other people own, mostly China.

Thus wealth can vanish in an instant today, unlike in the 60s when a factory took a decade to become so obsolete it was no longer capable of producing anything that could be sold. If a patent expires, or no compete clause lapses, suddenly the monopoly vanishes, the rents vanish, and thus the wealth vanishes.

The genius in the 21st century is to create the illusion of monopoly. Eg, Uber/Lyft have created the illusion off monopoly on public transport, as if its impossible for taxi and limo companies, bus and light rail, bikes and walking, private cars and parking spaces, to compete at lower prices.

To create the illusion of monopoly, both are paying massive amounts of other people's money to get people to provide capital below cost to Uber/Lyft, eg the vehicles. To "work" as a driver, you must provide Uber with free capital, a vehicle. Taxi and limo businesses bare the burden of both capital costs and labor operating costs.

Once investors in Uber/Lyft stop pouring money into paying workers so transportation is priced below cost, the prices charged via Uber/Lyft will be higher than the alternatives which will cap the price charged, and Uber/Lyft rent extraction will be too low to justify the "wealth" defined by market cap based on monopoly power and below cost capital cost.

Uber/Lyft do offer a value, a global "telephone exchange" instead of multiple small telephone exchanges of varying reliability. But, as Uber/Lyft do not provide transportation because they own no capital, vehicles. They are modern dynamic yellow pages, connecting customers to businesses, the taxi companies, eg, the car owner, who drives it, small business providing taxi rides by way of Uber instant contract.

Actually many taxi and limo businesses depend on drivers who own their own cars.

5. Taxes are sweet for those that don't pay. Dulce Bellum Inexpertis. Only, I can't find a Latin word for taxes that flows.

5. Tragedy, but also opportunity:

“And the U.S.,” Zucman said, “you know, if there is a U.S. President that is serious about fighting global oligarchy, he or she has a ton of power.”

To add to that I watched a pretty interesting presentation that Zucman did a year or so ago

Hillary Clinton the soon-to-be Dem nominee says she is a Russian Asset.

1) Clinton has no chance whatsoever of being the nominee.
2) I can assure you Representative is not a Russian asset. She has stayed clear from foreign entaglements, which is more than can be said about the Clintons, Trumps and Bidens of the world. She is an American patriot, like you and I are, and she feels common Americans' pain.
3) Representative Gabbard has good ideas dor a new America. She knows that America is only as good as it is for the common citizen, hard-working like you and I. She wants ro put an end to America's endless wars, protect Americans against terrorism and save American jobs.

Hi. If you are a patriotic American who wants a swift end to all the endless wars we have been fighting, believes in social justice, wants rich people to pay their fair share and thinks there is no reason to people struggle with medical bills in the richest country in the history of rich countries, you should consider voting for Representative Gabbard. She is a sane Democrat and has stood against Crooked Clinton and her minions. She is a terror hawk and a fiscal hawk. It is not your Dad's Democratic Party anymore, I can tell you.

6. The Roissyan explanation is that this is a cluster of beta males.

The polyamory = nerds correlation goes back at least as far as Heinlein and other golden age sci-fi writers who were into wife-swapping.

Perhaps nerds are less jealous?

or perhaps they, predominantly incel males, have almost no power in the sex-relationship market and 1. have to take what they can get and 2. are very unlikely to be viewed as a "keeper".

Re #4: what exactly is the point of a 'sign' that doesn't present itself until you've ordered and recieved your food? At this point shouldn't the sign be "the food was good"/"the food was bad"?

#1 I award this statement 5 Pinocchio

1. The original article ( contained a graph for America that showed happiness in America increasing significantly from 1990 onwards. This seems to counter the declinist narrative in America, and is much closer to my experience—compared to 20 years ago, I make way more money than my parents did at the same age, my city is safer and more diverse, and there are vastly more technologies that make life more convenient and entertaining. I wonder why the chart about America was omitted from the new article.

Part of this is that probably the change from the '90s-2009 only reflects bias in texts, not real change. Possibly something to do with changes in trends among publishers. (Nazi rule in Germany probably does not reflect an actual spike in happiness, for instance, but some kind of filter on published texts. "Strength Through Joy!".).

On average you can find a signal but within country there are clearly going to be problems with correlations (for a fuller article on the methodology -

But the other part is....

Only goes up to 2009! No 'White Death' ( or Opioid Crisis, no Great Recession. Or very little of these. Pre-SJWs, pre-Great Awokening, pre-"PC's comin' back". The '90s were relatively good times, and so were the 2000s.

Remember, the whole point of their exercise here is to look at how to estimate life satisfaction for places and times for which they do not have data (in order to test against a broader historical dataset).

It's quite obvious that in direct data life satisfaction declines slightly in the USA between 2005-2018 - USA Self reported life satisfaction 2006 - 7.16, steady until 2015 - 6.86, 2018 - 6.88.... (WVS shows similar declines).

Given we have such direct data, silly to propose using their worse, noisier secondary inferred indirect data instead, simply because it suits a meliorist stance.

Regarding my point about Germany, this did not go unnoticed to the authors - "As our data are drawn from published
text, it may be subject to censorship. Although we use the Polity IV
democracy variable in Table 2 in an effort to control for this, no control can be perfect; the case of Germany in the 1940s, when negative
portrayals of the Nazi regime were censored, is a case in point. Our
prior knowledge of this censorship suggests an overstatement of the
NVI during that time in Germany"

Which is hardly the only source that could drive such an effect - plausibly the US media corpus shifted from a more "authentic", unemotive style popular from the post-war Midcentury through the gritty 60s-early 80s to a more upbeat, Disneyfied, corporate style during the 1990s.

If happiness actually increased linearly over time that would mean that the 17th century Dutch all walked around with scowls on their faces and 2020 Dutch giggle themselves to sleep every night. That's hard to believe.

I'm really enjoying the academic response to Saez and Zucman. Keep pilling it on!

#2...I'm totally against a wealth tax, but Warren's mistake was offering a specific plan and then standing behind it. From Reuters, May 2016...

"Pressed on the contradiction between his latest comments on taxes and the September tax plan, Trump said he viewed his original proposal as “a concept” and that he expected it would be changed following negotiations with Congress.

“By the time it gets negotiated, it’s going to be a different plan,” Trump told ABC. He emphasized in separate interviews with ABC and NBC that his priorities were lowering taxes on the middle class and businesses."

What Warren should say is "Don't worry, the plan will be changed in negotiations with Congress." In February 2016 on Fox in a debate, Trump promised to cut the deficit by Billions & Billions of Dollars. How's that working out? Warren should do they same, claiming she will cut the deficit by taxing billionaires, just as Trump promised to cut the deficit without any meaningful specificity. Warren needs to remember she's running against a serial liar and pull numbers out of her ass, just like Trump did.

Senator Fauxahontas is already doing that with her Medicare for all plan in refusing to answer whether she'll raise taxes on the middle class. So she's already similar to Trump and indeed most other politicians.

I thought Trump's appeal was that he was NOT like most other politicians...

4. This reads very strangely for someone actually from Asia. Tons of fancy dim sum places in Hong Kong use truffles, Japanese Western food is very much a "thing" even outside of Japan, etc. Essentially the ethos of this list is "Asian food isn't allowed to evolve". Luckily nobody told the Asians in Asia.

It's about Asian American restaurants. Also, relax, it's a joke. Ali Wong is a comedian. Do Asians in Asia have a sense of humor or do you all enjoy being offended?

It's very typical of a certain sort of young Chinese-American (not all, or even necessarily many).

"Asian restaurants = countries in orbit around China, Filipinos are a one line punchline and restaurants are the means to express an authentic identity that is sullied by them being attended by other American ethnicities".

5. What’s with all of these French economists so obsessed with the US and income inequality.

France has a lot of equality and it’s economy is a dumpster fire compared to the US.

The average French worker speaks two or more languages, is more proficient in math, and is overall a more educated individual than your average US worker.

Yet the median French worker earns an income 65 to 70 percent of the median US worker. That is the real tragedy. Worrying about Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos total wealth? How again does that explain the extreme wealth gap between median Americans and median French people?

It used to be that the French,Germans and Brits were within striking distance of median US income levels. The wealth gap is getting extreme between those three and the US.

And there’s lots of regulation, redistribution, taxation, unions etc.

What if Yoda were 6 feet tall and he smoked weed?

Re 4, better non-truncated link:

#6 surprised that in such a long text the variable AGE is unmentioned.

When we were young, I think a big fraction of us would have fallen under the poly label. Between 20-30 YO we start to settle down, a god chunk of unmarried at this age could still be described as poly. By 35+ YO only the nerds, the ones who love ideas more than physical things or experiences, stay.

So, is a 25 YO polyamorous guy that different compared to a single less nerdy 25 YO average guy?

"Single and playing around" and "poly" are quite different. Read the poly literature to find out how.

#6 -- Perfect example of what's wrong with the so-called "Rationalist" community.

I told my coworker that when I’m in a rush and need a measured dose of caffeine I just chew on a handful of roasted espresso beans. The taste is not actually bad — if you like chocolate covered beans, you may not totally need the chocolate. I suggested to my coworker that she try it at least once, just to know what it tastes and feels like.

She adamantly refused, citing “that’s not how it’s consumed” and “it’s weird, people don’t do that” as her main objections. I countered that these are facts about people, rather than facts about coffee beans.

Maybe she was "unable to grasp the distinction," or maybe she's tired of Rationalist Guy at work always descending into Bayesian inference whenever she utters a simple, "No, thank you."

Also, this is rich:

A key to polyamory is realizing that what feels bad is not necessarily a sign that something is bad. Seeing your partner kiss another lover can trigger feelings of jealousy and insecurity. But in the context of polyamory, it’s actually a positive sign: that they trust you and feel comfortable around you, and that they encourage you to express your love for other people too.

"Just because I feel bad when my girlfriend cheats on me doesn't mean that it is bad," he said, with coffee grounds between his teeth. Meanwhile, the rest of the Rationalist community is busy putting together Twitter surveys and Python scripts to figure out why they aren't a more popular community.

I mean, who knows? Maybe just one more micro-dose of LSD will crack the case...

Were any non-Rationalists actually clamoring for a book about Rationalists?

I don't know, I certainly don't engage with the Rationalist community, but I do enjoy LessWrong and believe a bunch of our social expectations are unnecessarily hamstringing us.

But would I? Nah. My wife wouldn't appreciate me dedicating my time like that.

"Rationalist community" != Less Wrong. It's a Yudkowsky AI religion more than a product of rational inquiry.

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