Friday assorted links

1. “San Diego is now home to the largest mass surveillance operation across the country.”  And 23andMe to start layoffs.

2. Joseph Ferraro does a podcast with me, his core theme is how to get one percent better every day.  Much of this one is on my interviewing philosophy.  With the passing of Terry Jones, it is worth noting that the single biggest influence on my interviewing philosophy probably is Monty Python.  Whenever they would start a skit with an interview set up, and two people in chairs, I felt something especially good was coming up (try “Miss Anne Elk”).  What a delicious sensation!  Thus it seemed to me that an interview should grab the attention of the listener/viewer right away.  My friend Noam understands quite well how rooted a good podcast (including CWT) is in entertainment, no matter what the ostensible topic may be.

3. Coronavirus data?

4. “However, there was a main effect of height on yellow cards awarded, with shorter referees issuing more yellow cards.

5. Bryan Caplan on austerity for education, a response to me.  I say the actual equilibrium of price controls for higher education is that public spending does not make up the gap, and you end up with something like the German system.  I don’t favor this, to be clear, but there is much less higher ed signaling in Germany than the United States, even though the German system is very close to nominally free for students.

6. Space and time could be a quantum error-correcting code.

7. Rolls Royce plans mini nuclear reactors by 2029.


7. This is good news. Rolls Royce is a very professional outfit, so they probably mean it when they announce their plans. It is highly likely that it will be much easier to run a grid made up of a variety of carbon-free energy sources than one that relies on intermittent sun and wind alone. Grid scale storage is not a problem with an easy solution. Having base load generators (capacity factors for nuclear are 95%) makes the operation of a grid much simpler than building them from sources with capacity factors of 18-30% (solar, wind). The danger of periodic shortages due to intermittent supply from wind and solar will lead to demands for overbuilding of supply and storage. Storage is not an easy technological problem, and none of the possible solutions is close to being environmentally friendly.

After working on a variety of electrical generation stations, using various technologies, I'm of the opinion that solar and wind are very, very bad for the environment. Everyone focuses on carbon, but they ignore the massive amount of re-working of the landscape required for these technologies (what do excavators run on in their world, unicorn farts?). There's also ecological effects, including incineration of birds at molten-salt solar plants and loss of endangered plants and animals associated with wind plants (gotta have access roads to maintain them). Molten salt works best in hot, dry areas--which means you need water to wash the panels. Then there's the materials--solar panels don't grow on trees (well, not the kind we use). That part is improving, but it's still pretty bad.

The lack of reliability that you mention is also a major factor. We essentially can't store power right now, so wind at least is always only supplemental; you need (repeat NEED) either nuclear or fossil fuel generation technology to supply the base load. There's also ramp-up and ramp-down time--you can't just turn a turbine or a solar panel on, so if there's a spike in energy use you need something that can be ramped up quickly.

Lots of issues, which are receiving a lot of attention in the industry but are being completely ignored by most of society. All we hear is "Carbon! Carbon! Carbon!" without any critical thought put into the reality of renewable resources.

Any idea how much of countries like Englang, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, or France are 'natural'?

Try basically zero. And somehow, all the tower based high volt electrical wires were not considered landscape despoilation when put into place over mountains, rivers, etc.

In the USA they are. At least in CA. Any EIR/EIS has a Visual Resources section, and that can get VERY contentious. The cynic in my believes that this is used by municipalities to blackmail contractors--they use it to threaten to shut down the project, and when the contractor pays the right fees those objections magically disappear.

Companies have found ways around that, of course. I've seen a tactic where they say, basically, okay, we'll run visual resources assessments for a few options and let you choose. Option 1 is the project as it was proposed. Options 2 through 4 are completely insane--things like "we'll tunnel under the city and put in these wires, never mind that the city is on granite and this will take 30 years", or "We'll put these down the middle of Main Street! That'll look GREAT!"

Working in environmental compliance/remediation turns you cynical fast. People don't care about environmental concerns, especially politicians and bureaucrats; they care about money, and the more money bureaucrats get the less concerned they are with environmental issues. It's one reason I'm glad Trump is nuking our current environmental regulatory environment--it's become little more than a make-work program for wanna-be dictators. We need something new, and nuking the old is the best way to do it.

The latest UK contract for difference wind auction has shown that offshore wind now seems to have cracked the gas power limit. I didn’t believe it myself, but these new gigaturbines have changed the paradigm, I guess in retrospect all these limitations we assumed for wind were based on onshore power. Transportation, and land use are just not an issue for offshore so much. So wind
power, at least for Europe, looks inevitable.

Solar and wind are very different technologies, with very different risk/reward profiles.

So to say "solar and wind" are good or bad seems political to me, and not at all an engineering or environmental analysis.

This is of course compounded by the fact that in every location the energy portfolio is in flux, and at the margin we can't generalize about which "a" is replacing which "b."

And again, domestic cats kill "between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion mammals (mostly mice, shrews, rabbits, squirrels, and voles) each year." (Nature)

Maybe we need an energy source that kills cats ..

"So to say "solar and wind" are good or bad seems political to me, and not at all an engineering or environmental analysis."

Well, to be equally blunt, please read my post before responding.

I get that they're different technologies with different risk/rewards. They do share some similarities, however--inconsistent power supply, large amounts of territory needed to generate power, that sort of thing. The territory needed to generate power via natural gas is orders of magnitude smaller than the territory needed to supply the same power by either wind or solar (solar requires less than wind).

I'm talking at a very general level, of course. Obviously the environmental concerns are very different once you get into details (and I said as much, pointing out specific differences). But since everyone in our culture seems to think "renewable" means "wind and solar", I think it's justifiable to lump them together.

Of course, what do I know? I'm just a dumb field geologist with twelve years experience in this field...

Essentially commercial solar and wind is a scam and the intent is to mine the government for subsidies. Imagine that solar and wind was feasible would it need subsidies?

I actually wrote that before I saw this:

"It's one reason I'm glad Trump is nuking our current environmental regulatory environment--it's become little more than a make-work program for wanna-be dictators."

Political rant filed under "irrational ."

Maybe, but he was at least on topic.

He's also correct. Much as I cannot stand Trump's personality and lack of decency, he has done some good things, this being one of them.

(by the way, in one of my lives I actually was a project manager doing compliance projects for EPA standards at power plants)

The birds cats kill are almost exclusively small common birds like sparrows. Wind turbines tend to kill birds like raptors. Eagles, falcons, owls,, etc. Many of those kinds of birds are endangerec.

Possibly, but you are generalizing across the world's turbines. Not every turbine is in the worst case location (a migration route for an endangered species).

I believe there were some bad projects early on when this wasn't considered.

I wonder how the turbines' death count compares to electrocution by transmission line.

Interestingly, the endangered - probably to-be-extinct - prairie chicken down here will not nest where there are wind turbines (or any other tall structures), so I've heard. This is thought to be because they associate tall structures with raptors.

I'm glad to see that, implicitly, everyone on the thread supports wilderness area designation.

Teddy R: it’s a national wilderness, if you can keep it.

Wind Turbines causing a problem with birds is mostly bullsh*t:

On raptors:
"Recognizing that it's not possible to avoid all bird deaths, permits can be issued to wind farms allowing them to legally kill a strictly limited number of protected birds, thus motivating all parties to do everything technology allows to avoid any accidents. For example, the Alta wind farm in Tehachapi, California — located in one of the places where rare California Condors are most common — is allowed to kill one single condor over its 30-year lifespan. So they employ various technologies intended to protect the birds."

"Most California Condors are tagged, and when one approaches Alta, its radio transmission is detected and a shutdown signal is automatically sent to any turbines in its path, minimizing the risk of harm. A commercially available system called IdentiFlight uses camera arrays to scan the skies looking for the flight patterns of Bald and Golden Eagles, and when one of those is detected, a similar shutdown signal can be sent. ..."

Siting turbines taking into mind migration patterns can just about cure the problem without resorting to technology:

"We already see the impact of proper siting by comparing the bird strike numbers of well-sited existing wind farms to that of poorly-sited ones. Passerine deaths can be reasonably expected to be cut in half, and some well-sited farms have never recorded a single condor or eagle casualty."

"There are probably about 50 times as many birds as people, and birds — due to differences in their respiratory systems — are far more susceptible to pollutants including particulates, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and heavy metals. Figures on bird deaths from this are not known, but it's probably within an order of magnitude of 10 million annually. This is another reason the Audubon Society supports wind power: if we replaced all the coal and oil power plants in the world with wind farms, bird deaths from human power generation would be cut by more than 90%; probably a lot more than 90%.

Wind turbines and birds are a perfect example of how statistics can be misused. When we trumpet only the number of bird lives lost, and say nothing about the much greater number of bird lives saved, we are being deceptive and abusing the data."

While I don't think Wind Turbines killing raptors is that large an issue, the post you linked to is obviously contradictory and silly.

"Wind Turbines causing a problem with birds is mostly bullsh*t:"

And then directly in the post: ""Most California Condors are tagged, and when one approaches Alta, its radio transmission is detected and a shutdown signal is automatically sent to any turbines in its path, minimizing the risk of harm."

If you have to tag the birds and shut down the turbines (and thus they don't produce power) when a bird flies by, clearly you are saying it's a serious issue.

Is a solved problem still a problem?

Do you need this spelled out?

First, it's not a solved problem because obviously not all birds are tagged. Indeed, the tagging is a very small percentage of birds.

Secondly, shutting down wind turbines is economically expensive and will clearly cut into electricity production.

I think the bird deaths are acceptable given the cheap power that is generated, but I don't stick my head in the sand and pretend that:

"Wind Turbines causing a problem with birds is mostly bullsh*t:"

That's not a strong answer. Condors are tagged because they are precious. Can you name another precious species we are killing with wind turbines?

Americans also killed 9 billion chickens last year.

Clearly the answer is to start eating Condors and airlift tagged chickens into the turbines.

"At the infamous Altamont Wind Resource Area alone, more than 2,000 Golden Eagles have been killed by the wind turbines there."

"In December, 2016, a new eagle-management plan announced a final rule by the federal government that would give wind energy developers 30-year permits to “take” or incidentally kill protected Bald and Golden Eagles"

Now, now Jwatts.

Environmental concerns are just a tool with which to bludgeon political opponents, with an added bonus for handing out checks to politically connected interests.

Clearly you’re a rat stuck in Putin’s maze.

Putin opposes fracking due to environmental concerns—that makes Elizabeth Warren a Putin stooge.

"Clearly you’re a rat stuck in Putin’s maze."

He has the very best cheese! ;)

"If you have to tag the birds and shut down the turbines (and thus they don't produce power) when a bird flies by, clearly you are saying it's a serious issue."

All birds are not tagged. Condors, presumably, are so endangered that most or all of them are tagged. To tag the entire population of a bird species means there's probably not that many of them. In fact the number seems to be around 488. There are over 11,000 turbines in CA. Having to shut down a turbine because a condor is flying to it is probably a rare event and, as the podcast noted, if you consider migration patterns in placing your turbine you can drop the even to nearly zero.

"First, it's not a solved problem because obviously not all birds are tagged. Indeed, the tagging is a very small percentage of birds."

It is a solved problem in the sense that burning carbon kills more birds of all types than windmills. If you consider it a moral imperative to never kill a bird no matter what, windmills represent a step in the right direction hence are a solution.

"At the infamous Altamont Wind Resource Area alone, more than 2,000 Golden Eagles have been killed by the wind turbines there."

Golden eagle population has increased and stabalized since the 1960's even though wind turbines have increased dramatically. As noted, this also seems to have been a problem with one particular set of turbines in one particular area.

This seems like special pleading. Like of like a hot air balloon lobbyist harping on motor vehicle deaths as if fewer would die if we all had hot air balloons instead.

Oh, hell, dead birds are clearly a negative externality to bird lovers, to say nothing of the birds themselves. Clearly, the perpetrators, the turbine owners must be made to pay. Either allocate them a quota of dead birds, for which they will have to bid, or set a tax per dead bird.

Alternatively, go nuclear. :-)

If you care about birds, priority one is kill all the house and barn cats, then kill all the fossil fuel mining and burning operations, then ban all plastic waste.

After banning eating chicken. How many birds are killed in slaughterhouses?

You mean simply allocate an externality tax on anything that kills birds. Turbine owners would pay but outside housecat owners would pay a lot more. Nuclear plants would pay too. (Birds do slam into tall buildings and die all the time).

"Carbon,Carbon, Carbon" This s the reason not to come at reducing net CO2 emissions from the technology side, but from the incentives side, taxing/subsidizing the externality of CO2 release/capture.

"but they ignore the massive amount of re-working of the landscape required for these technologies"

Coal mining since Reagan doesn't rework landscape ten times more?

Which solar far has required blowing up mountaintops and pushing them into valleys?

Building solar farms on old coal mines seems the best outcome to improve abandoned coal mines which might as well be on the moon, except they get rained and snowed on, to no benefit because there is no soil, just inert pulverized rock. The run off picks up various heavy metal that are harmful to life in concentrations so low these metals can not be extracted for industrial use.

And given most homes have roofs large enough to generate all the electricity required by the home and its EVs if stored in batteries, you are arguing that reworking the landscape to build houses becomes harmful when a solar roof is installed, but was not harmful before the solar roof.

Economics is about cost/benefit of competing options.

Until coal mining, drill baby drill, etc requires no impact on the land, you can't argue against solar and wind based on the much lower impact on the land they require being so excessive wind annd solar must be banned in favor of fossil fuel pillage and plunder of vast areas of land.

#7 I've seen estimates that nuclear power could 10x cheaper than in is now and even safer than it's current great safety record. That would be great. Solar and storage are getting cheaper so it is a race.
Are the Rolls reactors fast reactors? It seems to me like that would be good in that it would get rid of some of the spend fuel.

I think it's very unlikely that they'll be fast reactors. Fast reactors require highly enrich uranium (IE "bomb grade" fuel), and that will pose a major political and security risk for any reactors they potentially build with HEU. Using LEU is a lot easier.

False. A traveling wave reactor typical uses infertile nuclear fuel, eg depleted uranium in the case of Gates Terrapower project, with only a small initial seed of highly fertile starter material.

Note, conservatives define 5% enriched uranium as bomb making material, with Trump claiming Iran is enriching to 5% only to make bombs.

So called research reactors use 20% enriched to allow smaller reactors with simplified operations to produce industrial quantities of medical and industrial materials for imaging, cancer treatment, and industrial imaging, and food sterilization.

Iran has an industrial capacity that ranks in the top 10 to 20 of nations, thus needing such nuclear products like cobalt-60. In medical, Iran has cleaper insulin analogues because it setup it's own factories to cut the price to production costs, while the US policy has been to shutdown factories in the US to create scarcity to allow ever increasing profits.

The GOP pursued policy with lies, which requires the American public believe all aspects of nuclear industry are dangerous and solely directed to weapons of mass production, all to defend high profits by creating scarcity of supply.

1b 23andme "...if the early adopters have already bought tests and the next potential batch of users are reluctant to spend."

That could be rephrased as the novelty soon wore off. There's no real application beyond having a topic for small talk during dinner.

Good that finally the truth comes out to mainstream media. 23andme is just using machines from another company (illumina). Those machines in the hands of doctors and researchers are better used.

Also, they are selling information about a subject that isn't going to change. There is no reason to be a repeat customer. There is no obvious subscription model.

Are you implying the customers are the people paying the company to add their genetic data to a giant database?

If it were a public company, statements would be public and we'll know where income comes from. Otherwise speculation.

I guess that's the customer base I'm referring too. The customer base that pays for access to the giant database would be a different story..

That seems like a prudent assumption. You don't have to be a wild conspiracy theorist to think that a company that has petabytes of personal data might find a customer for it.

Obama’s destruction of the industry is still working its magic.

Which is now a dead link. The past is so mutable.

Who would invest in such technology knowing that at any time another authoritarian thug could come in an destroy the business model? Luckily China has no such problems with democrats potentially taking power and they will continue down this technology path unabated.

As a counterpoint to Caplan I would look to K-12 spending. We have had absolute increases in public education spending and higher ones per student. Yet, we continue to see growing numbers of parents figuring out some sort of homeschooling. Lest we think these are just a bunch of zealots worried about the end times, the ranks of secular homeschoolers are growing and will soon be the majority.

Local public schools have been lavished with increased amounts of national "subsidies" per pupil and yet the demand for their services have decreased. I would submit that when demand is severed from price, quality is no longer enforced. Likewise, subsidies often come with all sorts of compliance and regulatory demands; methinks it highly likely that Ms. Warren's subsidies would be tangled with a thicket of these.

Remember, well functioning markets do not just set an equilibrium price, they also provide highly useful aggregated feedback to sellers. Warren's plan is highly likely to diminish what little of that sort of feedback is left in the system.

Probably that relates to:

A) Cultural divergences (homeschooling preferred by anti-vax types and other oddballs who "reject your reality and substitute their own")

B) Leisure time increases for upper middle class faster than school subsidies (these upper middle class "soccer moms" think they can do better)

Probably both at the same time and in the same people.

Does not generalize patterns cross-culturally (Norwegians aren't dropping out of school as the real terms funding rises), so it's probably wrong.

The whole idea that pricing is necessary to maintain quality is pretty strange anyway when:

A) Developed countries spending above about $1500 USD PPP per capita have virtually no variance in PISA scoring attributable to differences in education spending (see -

B) Public, non-selective state and grammar (selective) schools in the United Kingdom have virtually zero differences after accounting for pre-existing student exam accomplishment characteristics - Despite the fact that parents pay a hefty premium for public.

This should orient towards skepticism that choice and price and service competition would give much of an improvement, nor that increasing public funding would have increasingly negative outcomes (or positive ones).

Libertarians have already gone through much foolishness in endorsing voucher systems in the hope that those would improve outcomes, which the likes of McCardle have acknowledged they did not. It seems silly to keep repeating that mistake and believing in "market magic".

Libertarians don’t need to show vouchers are better, just equal to a state run system. This is because a voucher system allows parents more choice and less bureaucracy.

For Libertarians who want something ideologically more consonant to them without any care of whether it is better or worse, perhaps.

However, most people will probably not care about choice and imposing switching costs and disruption, if it provides no meaningful increase in outcomes, and lower bureaucracy seems questionable to associate with vouchers (is bureaucracy lower in any private sector where multiple and complex billing schema come about through multiple provider options?).

On reduced bureaucracy, as it stands, it seems like the richest, most highly educated parents who send their children to public (fee paying) schools in Britain receive virtually no educational dividend for their kids (as measured by GCSE outcomes) for their trouble.

These are the best prepared parents to choose, the most capable. And they get nothing particularly measurable. (Maybe they get some "old school ties" benefit, but that kind of dodgy, crony, insider, cliquely, factional benefit is hardly something Libertarians could claim exist in their rhetoric of the good society, which claims to be emancipating individuals, not social tribes and secret societies.)

So what will happen with the below average parents? I'll be a cynic: In our paternalistic Western societies the responsibility will probably end up falling on teachers and social workers, and they will have to paid, and they will have to account for their time in ways that will require bureaucratic form filling. (Maybe you'll even get children pulled into the massively bureaucratic foster care system because of it).

You may then respond that you'll defund teachers and social workers to give parents no choice but to "fall on their own resources". But if you do this you will end the inevitable electoral counter-swell of voting for increasingly Communist candidates, in response to the what will play to the median voter as a purposefully engineered bit of cruelty the consequences falls mainly on children and which serves no purpose in improving standards.

Maybe I'm too cynical here, but this seems like how I could imagine it playing out. More choice would not mean more responsibility for parents, but more for the social care and teaching system to do and which they're less well equipped for than the currently existing bureaucracy.

@M PISA is too close to an IQ test to measure the differences in schooling quality in the developed countries.

It's not like an IQ test at all; Content reflects curricula. Significant differences between nations which would not vary on IQ according to what we know (Greece, Albania). Etc.

A: First it would be nice to see some data regarding this, particularly as how the same trends are seen in private schooling.
B: The vast bulk of growth in homeschooling as been in lower SES cohorts. On average homeschoolers in 2016 come from families below 200% of the poverty level. In contrast only 43% of public schoolers and 19% of private schoolers are similarly situated. The days of homeschooling being a rich parochial niche are long gone.

A': Sure, but PISA scores are not the only thing that is being evaluated with a "price". People care not only how good a school is at teaching academics, but also things like "babysitting", sports, social connections, and the like. Just because one metric plateaus does not mean the others do as well. Nonetheless, if, as per Caplan, more spending led directly to more consumption, we should see more spending on K-12 leading to fewer homeschoolers.
B': Test scores are the least useful things most schools offer their students. For most students, schools today function as surrogate parents and to a lesser degree priests/rabbis/imams. Parents do not expect their children to learn how to read and write, but also how to navigate the adult world (e.g. sex & consent, manners, punishment & reward).

Again, Caplan makes the claim that spending more on education will result in more people going to college without a decrease in quality. Somehow I doubt that, I have just not seen that outcome with increased K-12 spending.

What is meant by "below 200% of the poverty level"? The only link I could find on SES tends to suggest a more similar composition than I thought, though homeschool is whiter -

On the other stuff, perhaps English public schools systematically provide much better results on sports than their input demographic suggests. And better value than sending a kid to a local state comp and spending the money saved on their gym membership.

However since there is no effect at all on the GCSE, the only category we can test it in, it seems unlikely.

Further, this doesn't seem like an argument that has much to with the overall efficacy of education which we were initially discussing. Your argument was that increasing subsidy drives lower quality by disconnecting market price mechanisms, not that it does so but only in sports or something.

In the US there is a federal poverty level. It varies according to a few things (e.g. family size). 200% of that value determines eligibility for a wide range of needs based social support systems. Not entirely accurate, but a lot of government stuff treats the federal poverty level or below as poor and above 200% of federal poverty level as reasonably secure middle class.

In the last survey of homeschoolers in 2016, homeschooling families were much more likely to be from the lower SES strata of society. Part of this is because they are more concentrated in less wealthy regions (e.g. the South) but even within regions, they are still more likely to be lower SES.

My argument is that we have spent more money of K12 in real, per capita, and basically every other measure. Yet fewer people are "buying" the product. Rightly or wrongly, a million odd parents believe that the quality of education (including social, safety, and all the other axes) has fallen.

Maybe these parents are in error. Maybe public school's, on all axes, have actually gotten better. But they are definitely not perceived that way. Either the parents opting out are correct and these subsidies have lowered quality as even poor performing schools (as measured by parent's preferences) were assured money. Or they are wrong, but show us a plausible mechanism where increased subsidies might not lead to increased enrollment.

Real world data shows the exact opposite of what Caplan predicts. Large influx of cash, yet falling enrollment.

This is a problem for Caplan's thesis regardless of the actual relationship between subsidy and quality.

Developed countries spending above about $1500 USD PPP per capita have virtually no variance in PISA scoring attributable to differences in education spending

And yet, private schools seem plenty expensive. If it is so easy to achieve equal test results by spending as much or less than the public school system, where is the McDonald's of private school chain offering parents cheap tuition?

Perhaps the error here is the assumption all that is being purchased with school spending is PISA scores.

Private school tuition is not about buying better scores, it's almost entirely about buying better peers for your kid (and yourself).

Yes, so let them pay! :-)

No one's stopping them

Dingdingding. They sell the appearance of score improvements that come mainly from input selection differences.

Good for them. A fool and his money.

Interesting. You would figure a free market would provide an income for parents of 'kid pollinators'. If you have a good kid let parents pay you to 'rent' him out for play dates thereby letting him benefit your kid.

But still that doesn't quite explain the price. If 'good peers' is driven by geography and since boarding schools are not that popular, then all that is needed to be done to capture the market is create a private school in a good area that has lower tuition *but* screens the applicants intensely. They would have the PISA scores plus 'good peers'.

Acton Academy is one of them. Around $10K per student per year.

Oh, and might I add, Catholic schools, for about the same price, less in lower grades.

1. Kind of proves my point. Many areas in the country are spending about $10K per kid in public schools. Where's the savings in private schools esp. considering private schools can do things like filter out more expensive kids from their rolls?

2. Compute Catholic school costs in total including donations, pre-existing capital stock etc. says the tuition is about $4400 for elementary and just under $10K for high school while private school is $9263 and $14K. Kind of begs the question here for market economics, why does non-Catholic private school even exists if these costs are consistent and reliable? There's almost certainly no part of the US without Catholics so they should be doing to the private school market what Amazon does to the ecommerce market.

Only possible answers:
1. Costs are hidden in those stats.
2. The model is not capable of scaling up.
3. The costs are not capable of scaling. In other words costs might be low because of factors like close networks of families that donate time to the school or using the pre-existing Church land for the school. If tomorrow all the private schools closed and parents sent their kids to Catholic schools $5K per year would no longer cut it once the schools would have to start buying commercial real estate and use paid workers instead of volunteers.

To be clear, 3.4% homeschool, and you are talking about fractions of a fraction.

(The only homeschool family I knew blew up, with kids suing for emancipation and patents for divorce. The critical claim was that mom's schooling was abuse. This shapes my view. As M says, parents self-select for this. Screwy theories often come to the fore. That's why there are homeschool survivor support groups.)

Right, and no one ever had a bad time at a state run school, the teachers are all saints and the kids are all nice.

Truth is rich people send their kids to private schools to give them a nicer experience, why can’t poor kids get the same choice? Why is education the last bastion of the central state?

The median has the advantage of being median. Any "creative" solution is an immediate departure from that. That itself is a risk.

So no, don't compare one outlier to another.

Median for what metric ?


"why can’t poor kids get the same choice?"

There are a lot of poor kids and the Left dominates the education system. Kids with school choice could well be subject to a more right wing level of indoctrination instead of the more left wing indoctrination that is the current status quo. Furthermore, public school teachers are a reliable Left leaning voting block and this directly threatens some small amount of their jobs.

School choice is detrimental to Left leaning ideology on at least those two grounds. So, of course the anti-Choice sentiment is strong from that POV.

" Yet, we continue to see growing numbers of parents figuring out some sort of homeschooling. Lest we think these are just a bunch of zealots worried about the end times, the ranks of secular homeschoolers are growing and will soon be the majority."

In other news, the ranks of people doing homemade butter are growing and growing. Yet I'm not inclined to massively short supermarket stocks and seek out home butter churner makers to sink my 401K in.

Indeed! Nor is there any need to worry about the public education market if vouchers allow some minority of parents to choose new schools for their children.

Public education market w/vouchers? That's odd, a market usually means you spend your own money on things. Leaving aside food stamps, which are a small % of grocery spending, I don't buy butter with vouchers. If I want handmade butter I pay more for it or else I buy factory made butter. People who demand vouchers are often the first to say student loans are making college too expensive, even though even a subsidized loan is still your money you have to pay back.

Issue I have with vouchers is reframing the taxpayer/voter out of the picture while leaving his role to pay in place. A voucher let's someone else do the buying who doesn't do the paying. It sometimes makes sense to do that. Maybe you send your kid to the store with your credit card. But it usually does not make sense to do that. In fact it often only makes sense in exceptional cases (going yourself is really inconvenient and your kid is really trustworthy and your kid has very good judgement).

I think we have a problem in that we don't really know what the taxpayers are trying to buy with public education hence most efforts to reform it devolve into gaming the system. (For example, rabid teaching to the test to ginny up the scores on a standardized test in order to meet some bonus metric).

Currently the ones doing the buying are the teacher's unions. Even if you elect a schoolboard with different priorities, you run into (sometimes illegal) strikes, state guidelines written by union members, and a whole guild structure (not unlike that in medicine) that mandates how education dollars are spent. Many school boards have found that their ability to change spending is drastically curtailed.

And that is even before we get into the dynamics of running for school board and how we actually spend tax dollars for unions to campaign for favored candidates who oppose policies that have majority support.

If you want voter control you are going to have to go back, way back, to true local control of schools without the current morass of regulation and union contracts.

Cry me a river. Are you telling me unions have iron control over all schools and politics in all 50 states? It's impossible to run for school board even in the majority of school districts that are rural or suburban? Even in states where unions have been stripped of just about all collective bargaining power and teachers eek out pay that makes Wal-Mart look like working for Google?

I think you've just been fed a line of bs that it's impossible to run for school board. Even if you believed that, the solution then would be to...well take control of school boards and instituting some nation wide voucher program would be even more political heavy lifting than challenging unions.

Pretty much.

After all, lest we forget in 2016 Oklahomans voted down an increase in teacher pay with a concurrent raise in a popular vote. The then failed to win raises against bipartisan votes at the state legislature.

Yet somehow when the unions struck on April 2 (right in time to jeopardize standardized tests upon which school funding formulas relied), they won $10,000 annual salary increases in spite of losing multiple votes specifically about teacher funding.

Or take West Virginia, there teachers engaged in an illegal strike, demanded raises beyond those agreed to by bipartisan legislation, and then when they won further concessions abandoned their union leadership to hold out for further concessions.

These would, of course, be two of the most Trump friendly states in the union. In both cases, the issues had previously been voted upon through the normal democratic process and in both cases the teacher's responded with illegal acts. Yet the teachers won.

Where exactly do you think the teacher's unions are going to be significantly weaker than Oklahoma? How much, exactly, should these sorts of union actions be allowed to overturn the results of democratic elections?

Whether or not teachers are over, under, or just-rightly paid, the truth is they explicitly overturned democratic outcomes at the state level in states where they are the weakest. Why exactly should we expect a school board in a typical (i.e. median) district to succeed where Oklahoma Republicans (with Democratic support) failed?

And again, how exactly should a school board respond to a union strike? Just cancel classes? Lose federal or state funding for non-compliance? How exactly should school boards enact the will of the voters once a union strikes to oppose the will of the voter?

But leave that aside, what about credentialing requirements? Can a local school board change those? Not in the vast majority of states. Suppose the voters want to do silly things, like maybe hire a physician who taught anatomy in medical school to teach anatomy to high schoolers, how exactly should they respond when the rules require said physician to go get a teaching certificate. How exactly should he go about doing that if the local certificate granting agencies are literally all staffed with union officers?

Or suppose you have a mandate that public schools spend X amount of time or money on goal Y. How should the schoolboard change that when the voters dislike California's sexuality education mandates? How should the voters change things if NCLB requires bogus teacher evaluations?

The voters are not making purchasing decisions anymore. They can make only decisions within the sphere allowed before the unions (illegally) strike. They can only make decisions within the sphere allowed by credentialing bodies staffed by union members. I have watched more than one school board be swept by reformers who then realize that the power of the ballot box loses most of the time to that of the state and national education bureaucracies as well as that of the unions.

Historically, this was a good thing (looking at Brown vs Board of education for instance), but if you wanted to actually change educational spending you need to go after power loci that are exceedingly distant for the elected school board.

I ran for office in my town. Some school board elections have run with empty slots. Some have struggled with campaign finance reporting because they literally raised and spent no money on their successful campaigns. Periodically there are upstarts that win seats from the right but often they tend to have fringe obsessions (few years ago we had some who ran on the idea that the schools were 'indoctrinating Islam').


OK did have a $10K raise but they were at 49th in terms of teacher pay and leaped to 34th. OK is 39th in per capita income so what you're giving us seems more like reversion to the mean.

There is always a state ranked 49th.

Oklahoma just moved within the band of 60% of the states that pay around $50,000 +/- 10%.

People do not run for school board because you can accomplish little. What exactly does your school board do? How exactly do they respond when union strikes?

Or take California, 3rd highest remunerated teachers in the country by your own preferred measure, somehow in the same year as Oklahoma, LAUSD also struck. They won a 6% raise and a significant reduction in students per teacher.

CPS, also managed to force through a 16% raise via striking, again more than the democratic channels put forth.

Again, the strikers may be "right" but they forced larger raises than the democratic process had dictated.

How exactly should CPS or LAUSD respond to a strike? Exactly what power does a school board have to control spending here?

And again lest we forget, I am not even talking about some small petty school district, but rather we are watching unions take on states and districts over an order of magnitude more powerful than the median district. Why exactly would we expect the school board in Podunk to be able to win in a wrestling match that states and the largest districts in the country are losing?

Caplan is arguing that if we subsidized commercial butter manufacturers, we should short home butter churns. His claim rests upon a change in trend.

Real life sees an opposite trend given a subsidy increase similar to the one driving his hypothesis.

Maybe there is a secular decline in demand for public schools. But it is odd to say that subsidy of higher ed will drive demand when the subsidy of K12 has seen the opposite outcome.

#1B Literally sending your DNA for analysis and storage - forever - in a database that can be copied and that you don't control. You could at least ask for lube.

#3 Saw some data that indicated the fatalities (thus far that we know of) were mostly among people with secondary conditions. Can anyone confirm? Ro whatever I really want to know if this is killing relatively young healthy people or not.

#7 Faster please. Also increase R&D on Thorium reactors and Pebble-bed tech.

#3: So far, my understanding is that the youngest victim of the coronavirus was 48. Furthermore, I had heard secondary conditions as being important.

#5: It strikes me that educational services can simply be provided (e.g. access to courses, books, classrooms, instructors, etc.), but that education (the outcome) is co-produced through educational services plus student aptitude and effort. People work harder at what they value, and select more thoughtfully when they pay a price. For many students the opportunity cost of lost time and earnings might suffice for this purpose, but perhaps not for all (e.g. if the alternative is video games in mom's basement). Just ask anyone who has taught at community college, there is often a group of some size who simply won't put in the effort.

This argues for at least some price -- not prohibitive -- for any higher educational services that are costly to provide, to weed out the make-pretend students who waste resources better devoted to others. Where affordability is a genuine concern, better than "free" college might be a policy to refund tuition paid upon graduation, when the education has actually occurred and whatever public benefits have been created by the result.

Peer effects: if a kid is surrounded by and friends with kids who choose to study and apply effort, they most likely will too. And of course the reverse is also true.

5. Have Tyler or Bryan specified who they see as "students?" It might clarify the situation. Are they gaining real measurable human capital? Are they merely performing ritual? Or are they doing neither, missing classes and smoking dope?

In the best, case society funds group one. A little group two isn't really bad, if it proves a certain kind of capacity and conformity. But of course with "college for all" you might get a lot of the bad kind of two and three (lazy ritual) killing time until "graduation."

(Human capital is real. The idea that education can't provide it, idiotic.)

IOW, I concur with Carl above.

Precisely. The German system is heavily rationed. Only those who were admitted to an academic high school may attend university. Within universities, some subjects, such as medicine, are additionally rationed.

More generally, if the consumer does not pay directly, quantity supplied must be rationed. Try that in the US of A!

German medical students take a test before being allowed to study medicine. Unlike in the U.S., where a medical admission test does not exist.

Sorry, the MCAT is critical to how American medical schools ration their student places. Is selective the same as rationed in English? Because if it is, Harvard or Yale are bigger rationers than any European uni.

Selection is one form of rationing. Having a price system is another. :-)

Free higher education in Europe is rationed in various ways, one being the Gymnasium. In the US, the better the education institution, the less it likes to use price to equilibrate demand with supply. They like to undercharge and pick the best applicants.

Never mind individual medical schools: The US medical education system is more constrained than in Europe on account of the past power of the AMA, currently preserved in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the cartel of the AMA and the medical schools.

Seriously? You are trying to say that meeting the necessary qualifications is rationing?

Welcome to the sort of true weirdness Tyler believes is in short supply.

Don't you believe in scarcity? :-)

The way you get to scarcity is for the top 100 private universities to go free tuition for students from middle class families. So nobody is going to go to 101st private university when everyone knows the 100th is tuition free. So that then forces private universities to combine endowment funds and shut down some campuses so they can go tuition free for middle class students. So then we will have a limited number of private universities that everyone understands are a very big deal to get in to because everyone gets in based on merit and not ability to pay tuition.

We want to ameliorate the affects of scarcity as much as possible, not impose arbitrary new scarcities! :-)

I'm reminded of these lines from the first sequel to Jurassic Park:

John Hammond : Don't worry, I'm not making the same mistakes again.

Dr. Ian Malcolm : No, you're making all new ones.

The states have incentive to provide affordable college tuition to state residents. So community colleges and regional state universities do a more than adequate job at ameliorating scarcity.

The issue is the value of a private universities degree in light of the commoditization of the BA. So the way for private universities to make their degrees more valuable is by going tuition free for students from middle class families...why would anyone pay tuition for a degree that has the same value as one that costs a fraction by going to community college and a regional state university?? And we certainly shouldn’t have a federal program that allows 18 year olds to take out loans to pay for tuition at a private university when community colleges and regional state universities costs a fraction of private university tuition!?!

What's all this about the middle class?

The top universities already provide free tuition to students from middle class families using FAFSA. So Harvard and Yale need to provide the leadership to get the top 100 private universities the funds to follow their lead. From my perspective a BA has already been commodified and so students should already be trying to spend as little as possible getting the degree. So now we have these zombie private colleges depending on federal funds to entice 18 year olds to behave stupidly and take out student loans to pay for something that is not worth the cost. So the way we make private university degrees valuable is by making the top 100 private universities free for students from middle class families.

What's all this about the middle class? Do you mean you want more?

I want to end student loans because they have led to a commoditization of BAs with a few exceptions like the Ivy League. I want degrees to signal something and the way to get there is by following Bloomberg’s lead of wealthy donating specifically for tuition for students from middle class families.

I don't get the middle class category in any argument.

"Seriously? You are trying to say that meeting the necessary qualifications is rationing?"

I'm surprised you would make such a statement on an economics blog. Of course its rationing. There are countless examples of professions raising the required qualifications which naturally results in fewer new workers, thus protecting the wages of the existing workers.

Do you seriously believe that manicurists in Massachusetts require 2.5 years of school and experience to correctly paint finger nails? Or that the ones licensed in NY state which only requires 1000 hours are significantly inferior because they don't have such qualifications.

#4 Most fouls happen near ground level, so short referees may have a better view!

Or shorter referees resented being pushed around themselves in their soccer-playing days and are more sensitive to physical aggression.

Referees who are former offensive players are more likely to be both short and to see things from the fouled player's perspective.

Referees who are former defensive players are more likely to be tall (at least by soccer standards) and to see things from the fouling player's perspective.

This is based on my theory that defenders foul and offensive players are fouled.

Or maybe the players give more grief to short referees.

That may be the case. I also think that in basketball, shorter or smaller referees tend to call more offensive charging fouls.

I've refereed both soccer and basketball. In my opinion, there should be no fouls in soccer and I have never called charging or any other offensive fouls in basketball. I was a very physical basketball player myself growing up.

And what about on-field football officials? It's my contention that US professional football teams closely study the calls made by the officials to determine exactly what kind of illegal behavior any particular official will overlook or consider for a penalty. No two referees are likely to use the same criteria to call really subjective penalties like offensive holding, pass interference, drunk and disorderly, etc. Knowledge of the trends of penalty calls and when they are likely to be made, once the referees are assigned to a game, could make the difference between two similar teams. impossible to believe that this isn't being studied intensely now.

#6: I understood some of the sentences in the article. AMA.

6. Space and time could be a quantum error


....don't ya just hate it when Quantum Particles become entangled !

As Einstein stated: "Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one"

6. Anything "quantum" with a "could be" just means "sure guys, have fun with that."

Correct! I'm glad we're past blockchain.

A Boomer with a community college associates arts degree learned to post on the internet.

He comments on quantum physics. It’s like watching a dog recognize the word WALK.

It’s endearing to a point. You pattern recognize quantum ! But it’s clear from your comments you never passed a math class.

Take some Kahn academy classes in math maybe? You could gain a lot of credibility if you learned basic math. As of now I’m 100% sure you never passed a linear algebra class.

Which means you’re at best a college freshman.


Can someone please explain to me what TC's "This is the conversation I want to have, not the one you want me to have" is supposed to mean?

And how does that fit in with trying to entertain?

Probably just trying to cut down on the "you should"

6. Space and time could be a quantum error-correcting code.
Absract tree theory for short.

Currency banking works this way in theory. The currency banker in matching loans to deposits carries a "bit error".,the market making risk for allocating liquidity. The market making risk is bounded, i will not exceed a certain level before the currency banker re-assigns new interest charges to correct the imbalance.

So, in the same manner, currency bankers cannot bet time, they determine time, they determine the yield curve structure as an outcome. Same process.

Then what is Planck's constant?
The error correcting bits, they have unknown momentum and position because at the sub-plank level, vacuum state changes to perform error correcting, execute the commutative property as needed to make the time/space work.

n economics this is a Nash equilibrium here the common knowledge is the market making risk, a specific account that represents market uncertainty and is fixed.

Currently central bankers do not get the concept which is why we cycle.

Do you have a manifesto hosted online somewhere so one can learn more about abstract tree theory?

2. Aside:

With the passing of Terry Jones--a flash tribute:

The Monty Python Meaning of Life

Pallbearers en route:

John (C): "No, I insist--you go next."

Terry (G): "No, I tell you, I saw a white rabbit with red fur! Not me! Eric, why don't you go?"

Eric (I): "Wouldn't think of it, wouldn't think of it! Michael, you're the world traveler, you go!"

Michael (P): "Oh no! I'm awaiting a visit from the Spanish--wait, what's that!"

Muffled voice of Jones (T) from inside: "I'm not dead yet!"

With heavy sighs, the four lower the coffin, lift the lid, Eric and John look side to side, all four stomp and kick until silence resumes, lower the lid, sigh more heavily for the lift, then continue the procession.

(Perhaps nothing you'd want to depict in a podcast, which shows the innate strength of literary imagination.)

Monty Python is (was) probably as funny as humans can possibly be. And on many levels: literary, clever, cartoon, philosophical, silly, smart, crude, physical, all of it.

All that matters in politics can be gleaned from Tocqueville and the bit from The Life of Brian on “splitters” and factions.

7. I'm skeptical, but not without hope. Getting small modular reactors that can be cost-competitive on electricity with solar and wind plus storage is really hard - nuclear power tends to get cheaper power generation per kWh with larger plants (not counting the enormous expensive of building and insuring them).

#3. I love to think that there are a bunch of angst ridden marketing people at Corona Beer working out how to play this whole thing

"This year, the Department of Defense is funding research into holographic space-time, at least partly in case advances there might spin off more efficient error-correcting codes for quantum computers."

Many posters here would say the above is a bad thing, and I still can't figure out why.

Government funding of science is a smart thing to do. Good point.

7. The "small" RR reactor would be half to to 1/3 the size of a regular nuclear plant, use the same pressurized water configuration as they do, and produce the same type of long lived waste and require refueling every 2 years, producing even more waste. It will also need active cooling, making safe shut both harder and more subject to faults.

This is the least impressive SMR out there.

But it does retain one important advantage - it appears to produce suitable material for fashioning nuclear weapons.

A design criteria that even the CANDU (50% less is one of its major selling points) fulfills, for those nation states that are trying to show that it would never, ever, think of building bombs. India was not so shy by the late 1990s, and the tritium was just laying around, so to speak

Ever wonder why the CANDU is such a poor selling design, even with the advantage of not requiring enriched fuel?

There is even a commenter above who understands what nukes are really about - nuking.

Why isn't the equilibrium France not Germany? Then most universities like the Sorbonne are effectively open enrollment while the elite privates becomes the American Grandes Ecoles (which they almost are now albeit without formal government control.)

#1 > San Diego is now home to the largest mass surveillance operation across the country.

Not that that is not concerning, but in the scheme of things there are bigger worries than that. Previous NCamPerKPop data already put put SanDiego at no. 42 with 2.48 (3600 cameras) which might increase to 2.75 (4000 cameras) in 2020. That will just put San Diego with 2.75 at half of that for WashingtonDC. Even with the number of camaeras it is still way below that for Atlanta with 7800 cameras.

Rank| CamPerK | NCamera | City | Country
1| 168.03 | 2579890 | Chongqing | China
6| 68.4 | 627707 | London | UnitedKingdom
7| 60.49 | 500000 | Wuhan | China
9| 39.93 | 800000 | Beijing | China
10| 15.56 | 7800 | Atlanta | UnitedStates
13| 13.06 | 35000 | Chicago | UnitedStates
19| 11.18 | 39765 | Berlin | Germany
20| 9.62 | 179000 | NewDelhi | India
28| 5.61 | 4000 | WashingtonDC | UnitedStates
38| 3.07 | 2753 | SanFrancisco | UnitedStates
39| 3.06 | 33479 | Paris | France
40| 2.59 | 9300 | Lucknow | India
42| 2.48 | 3600 | SanDiego | UnitedStates
43| 2.44 | 14955 | Toronto | Canada
46| 2.23 | 1552 | Boston | UnitedStates

> There is much less higher ed signaling in Germany than the United States.

This is true, but there is much more licensing than in the US. Many professions are inaccessible unless you studied them in high school/college.

A large fraction of this is legal, but a lot of it is also social, at which point, one needs to ask whether we shouldn't call it signalling and state that Germany is obsessed with signalling.

This mostly happens to the middle-class ("you want to work as a travel agent without a travel agent degree?!?"). For the elites nobody cares if your degree is from Freiburg or Heidelberg, although a PhD still looks good. So much so that a whole "PhDs for cash" system cropped up ( and "politician's PhD turns out to be plagiarism" is such a common headline that it doesn't even seem to matter anymore (see the President of the EU Commission, von der Leyen).

To the extent that they are substitutes, signalling may, in the end, be less harmful than licensing. More than one 30+ year-old in Germany has told me something like "I realize now that I chose the wrong profession for me at the age of 16, but I have to stick it out until retirement because switching means 3 years of studying and I cannot afford that".

I would love a Tyler post on "to what extent are signalling and licensing substitutes and at which margins should we prefer one over the other?"

1. Governments are exempt from their own laws. A practice frequented by the US Congress.

"ostensible" I do not think it means what you think it means.

6. Space and time could be a quantum error-correcting code.

Then we know the effect of the error correcting service is momentum and motion. The vacuum keeps pi accurate by moving us around so we aren't mis-sharpen on any observable surface perpendicular to and estimated center. Th error correcting code is polishing the circular windows enclosing the center. Hence the hologram effect, moving from a 2D system with momentum to a 3D system. I the case of gravity, those L spots are central, likely engaged in much of the correction. But I dunno, it is a speculation. I use 'abstract' tree for that very reason, the actual tree an be warped to a much different model than the abstract tree model. But the very heart of this is position exchange, reordering, that takes place at the sub Planck level. At least in any sound theory, though the mechanism may be unknowable.

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