Tuesday assorted links

1. The most checked out books of all time from the New York Public Library.  #1 is The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats.

2. Why gaming is outperforming TV, recommended.

3. Flying has become much cheaper over the last five years (sometimes trotted out as a case of “monopoly,” because the number of major carriers went down).

4. Deaflix: Deaf Entertainment Network.

5. Bagel Union > Mafia.


1. Neat. Would have been Tropic of Cancer, but Jerry never returned it

2. Seems reasonable. See Xbox recent “streaming” service and google stadia

3. Unbundling effect of previously bundled services + low fuel costs

+1 on 1 for the Seinfeld reference. But it was actually Tropic of Capricorn that Jerry never returned; he loaned Tropic of Cancer to George! Aside from that "The Snowy Day" was one of my favorite children's books. +1 for the post as well: thanks for the warm feels.

#3) And, in turn, how much did shale and fracking contribute to "low fuel costs"? Considering how many goods and services require energy to produce, it would be interesting to see how big of a positive supply shock, say as a percentage of GDP, fracking has been over the last decade.

As big as the marginal impact that fracking had on world supply of petroleum and gas.

#1 Americans borrow children books!
#2 Incels.

#2 Esports attraction on youtube is one of those generational divisions, my son avidly watches them for hours, I just don’t get it. I guess this is how the greatest generation felt about the beatles.

#3 What is driving this? Airline profits don’t seem to be suffering much? Anyone have any insights?

It's probably the discount airlines that popularized individualization of costs. I.e. the airline used to provide food for everyone, Now food is an add on. Same with luggage, some airlines are even making carry-ons an add on. Flights are cheaper for those who dont want to use those services and airlines reduce costs, i.e. now they need 2 crew members instead of 3 to serve dinner.

BLS is clearly able to account for obvious stuff like that. I'm not so sure about seat density.

#1 Number 3 surprised me. Has to be due to school reading requirements. There's also a likelihood given the last 30 years that people mistook for a 'how-to' guide.

#2 Prescient, especially number 5. It doesn't get more personally targeted than getting the person directly involved in their own content creation.

#3 But the number of 2nd and 3rd tier carriers went up. The crush to reduce fares (while simultaneously adding fees) is overwhelming, and the majors don't want to have to compete with regionals or even feeder providers simply because they can't. Overall, good for consumers if you're the type of person who likes traveling and can avoid getting sucked into a al cart fees.

#5 "Oh yeah, you'll pay. You'll pay lox. Lox and Lox. You know what happened to Yona Shimel? Yona Shimel ended up as a smear on the roundabout. So stop crying with 2 bags of bagels under your arm pleading poverty. You don't want to get toasted...do you?"

3. Airlines have greatly increased the load factor (from 70% to 85%) while lowering fares. What this reflects (besides feeling like a sardine) is that airlines have eliminated many short haul flights while expanding long haul flights. If you reside in a smaller city, you know what I am referring to. Because there are fewer airlines, they don't have the regional competition they once had. Twenty years ago there were 14 daily direct flights from the two smaller cities (smaller but definitely not small) where I worked and where I spent much of my time. Today, there are none. Reduced fares are nice, but if the airlines don't go where one wants to go, whoop-de-do.

Echoing what others say about #3

1) Fuel costs likely down a LOT. Fuel is a major component of airlines' costs.
2) Does the chart show just the "list" price of flights, or the "all-in" costs, including add-ons for baggage and the like? If the latter, then it doesn't really reflect the true costs of flying, for the average flyer.

If anything, I'm surprised that flight costs, relative to earnings, haven't fallen MORE over the full 30+ year period. I suspect fuel costs, inflation adjusted, are pretty low now relative to their average over this period, and I presume that the airplanes themselves are both larger on average (more efficient in various ways, including amortization of the pilots' costs over more passengers), and better in various ways (more fuel efficient engines). Also, interest rates (real and nominal) are low, so the capitalized cost (annually) of a jet purchase should be relatively lower than would otherwise be the case.

More efficient (but larger) engines will be the death of Boeing. Isn't that ironic.

OK, if I've done this right, here's a link to inflation adjusted jet fuel prices.


FWIW, they're higher now than they were in ~1990. But they're off from a peak back around ~2011-2013 (albeit up somewhat from a trough in ~2016).

(Note that the scale is kinda weird. But the graph line I think is basically ok.)

Is "the airplanes themselves are both larger on average" true? If size were the key to economy, and cost drove the business, then perhaps Airbus would still make the A380, but it doesn't.

Some passengers care only about price, but others care about travel time (how long it takes to get there) and travel times (when it arrives, when it leaves). Bigger planes mean fewer flights, which translates into fewer non-stops and less frequent flights. And there's always the risk that the airline that buys or leases a huge plane either be unable to fill it, or can do so only by decreasing fares as necessary to keep it full.

The optimum size for an airliner can be a tough problem as the cost per seat-mile does tend to be lower for larger aircraft, but the trend if anything has been away from the largest.

Airbus a380 is too big and the Boeing Dreamliner approach won the day with a focus on efficiency. Airbus looks to have a winner with the a220 which should allow airlines to increase point to point domestic flights the same way the Dreamliner facilitated international travel.

But now the aeronautical industry believes oil costs will remain below $75 a barrel for the foreseeable future so we should see a return of supersonic passenger planes. Also with lower oil prices we will see a return of helicopter airlines which will then be replaced by next generation VTOL aircraft currently in development. The only technology that could reduce costs more than efficiency/lower oil costs is battery powered aircraft which are not as certain as next generation VTOL aircraft.

Bagels are rather vile. How on earth have they become popular?

It's a sturdy vehicle for delivering large quantities of cream cheese.

I remember a Malaysian colleague visiting the US for the first time and trying a bagel: "This country has horrible doughnuts!"

A real boiled-in-water bagel sits in the belly like a lump of slowly curing concrete. What's not to like?

That's good imagery.

#4 The potential audience for Deaflix shows is more fragmented than the company seems to claim on its website, as there are several sign languages used around the world. For examples, American Sign Language (between 250k and 500k users) and Brazilian Sign Language (3 million users) are completely different.

2. Have attention spans declined? Do millennials have the same attention span as their parents (at a comparable age). Anecdotally there is evidence that millennials read more than (or at least as much as) their parents, but they don't value reading in the same way. There's also evidence that millennials read differently: they are scanners. Scanning is great for someone (Cowen for instance)) with a vast source of knowledge in memory, but scanners with little in memory, not so much. Parfit said the past is lost forever, so keep the focus on the future. Scanning, of course. And gaming. ADHD is not a handicap. [An aside, I've mentioned before that my godson and his buddies would tease me about my inability to multi-task, something that is second nature to them.]

Literally every form of information transfer from writing on has been blamed for this sort of thing--loss of attention span, loss of memory, the downfall of society, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria.

It was wrong when Plato/Socrates objected to writing, it was wrong when the printing press was blasted for allowing the masses to read, it was wrong when newspapers were causing the downfall of society, it was wrong with movies, it was wrong with TV. It's wrong for gaming. How many times must we go through this argument? Repeated experiments that fail to produce the expected results are supposed to cause one to question one's assumptions, not simply be swept aside because "this time it's different". It's not. The argument is just as wrong now as it has been for the last 3,000 years.

FYI, a large number (most, maybe) of gamers are like me: mid-30s, families, careers, etc. The image of a gamer being a 20-something slacker living in his parents' basement is pure fiction at this point.

Even more vile are NYC dirty water dogs.

There's no accounting for taste.

Maybe it's like pizza or hot dogs: street food.

More than one or two bagels (or dirty water dogs) a month can lead to weight issues.

It's no longer a "donut with rigor mortis." Recently, I've noticed pricey bagel shops making more bready or cakey-texture bagels. The village super market's cheapo bagels are close to what I remember as bagels.

Now we have the unions, we have the gambling, and those are the best things to have. But bagels is the thing of the future.



Lotta money in that white flour.


The GSW effect?

also, i know you;re a big fan of the NBA, but this is why I find it so boring.

That and also the fact that today's league is full of cry babies.

Indeed. I was always a casual fan who would really only tune in come playoff time, but the NBA is almost unwatchable now. 3 pt shooting contests are not compelling TV.

5. From lemons to bagels. I suppose the mafia soured on the lemon market and decided there was a hole in the bagel market the mafia could fill. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/03/the-secret-history-of-bagels/6928/ [An aside, Iast week I watched an interview of Geddy Lee. He's the one who sings the lyrics written by Peart. My goodness, that is one smart man. His parents survived the Holocaust (most of Lee's family didn't) and emigrated to Canada after the war, where Lee grew up. He didn't mention bagels in the interview, but I suspect he knows his bagels. I also have to mention that Bret Stephens is a Rush fan. Read his column yesterday. I feel like having a bagel. Forty plus years ago I took the Florida Bar exam in Miami. I would eat my meals at Wolfie's, the famous Jewish deli (long since closed), where the older Jews who had retired there ate their meals, lox and bagels for breakfast. All these years later I have a vivid memory of siting at the counter watching those adorable older people eating their lox and bagels. Of course, Miami Beach today is not the same place.]

Flying is cheaper primarily because oil is cheaper. But it is also cheaper due to our quiet energy crisis from 2001-2008 and then high oil prices after the Financial Meltdown which pushed all the parties involved with commercial air travel to become more efficient. And a big part of efficiency was when oil spiked in 2008 the airlines had to quickly come up with ways to make more money and that is when they started charging for bag fees.

But a discussion of “monopoly” is relevant here because the Big Oil oligopoly bears some responsibility for our quiet energy crisis from 2001-2008 which undermined our economy. So lazy group think/conventional wisdom by the oligopoly made oil executives dismiss the viability of fracking out of hand. So the huge profits XOM was making were not invested into fracking but instead they continued their conservative investments into oil production with long lead times. So Big Oil missed out on fracking and then XOM tried to play catch-up with XTO...and then XOM missed out on fracking for oil.

Due to advances in fracking and efficiency in travel and autonomous vehicles I think we can safely predict that travel will become cheaper, faster, and easier in America.

2. Actually we are into generation Z now (born after 1995) and they not the millennials are the big gamers. Figures, they grew up in the internet age.

Hey guys, we have trillion dollar deficit!

It does not matter unless a Democrat is the president.

Simultaneously, the Democrats who insist stimulus lessens deficits as % of GDP due to high multipliers can't have demand this not be true when there's a Republican in office...

Really, which Democrats advocate stimulus in economic expansion?

Note that Keynes never did. Indeed Keynes advocated a countercyclical fiscal policy in which, during periods of economic woe, the government should undertake deficit spending to make up for the decline in investment and boost consumer spending in order to stabilize aggregate demand.

Yes, all of the current Democrat Party candidates for President are advocating a sharp decline in federal spending to bring fiscal policy in line with Neo Keynesian theory....

...With such policies as doubling to tripling federal spending in support of free healthcare, free college, free childcare...

You nailed it. Instead of $1 trillion deficit it will be $5-$6 trillion.

I am waiting dor the Tea Party protests against Trump. Inwas shocked they did not protested against Bush's deficits or his recession.

It has nothing to do with public choice at all.

+1, with the Left it seems to be "countercyclic spending during a recession", which they expand to include low bound growth barely above zero that is not recession, then "well, but we need infrastructure anyway so more spending" outside recession.

Makes all the talk of countercyclic spending seem a bit like an excuse to advocate what they advocate all the time without regard to economic conditions.

Since Kennedy/Johnson every democratic administration left office with the deficit much smaller as a % of GDP while every republican administration left office with the deficit a much larger share of GDP than it was when they took office.

The rebpublican starve the beast strategy is not working.

Cutting spending without cutting tax probably does not work for reducing deficits (there is no growth causing austerity). But that does not have that much to do with the Left today yelping about pro-cyclical spending when it comes to cutting during contractions, then advocating pro-cyclical spending when it comes to increases in the size of the state during expansions.

Tune into the debate tonight and you will see five or six of them.

Really? Or are you making the switcheroo that any spending is "stimulus?"

Not really. Not any more than a new aircraft carrier is implicitly and always "Keynesian stimulus."

Fiscally expansionary policies are fiscally expansionary policies. Are you doing a switcheroo that somehow procyclic spending is not procyclic when its advocates don't claim it's a stimulus during a recession?

(In which case it would be hard to see how increases in spending outside recessions would ever be procyclic, which I would suspect is how the Left would like it to be, whatever reality conflicts).

#2: Has anyone interviewed gamers on this?

For my part, I opt for games instead of TV because I'd rather engage in an active entertainment media than a passive one. TV is great if I'm folding laundry, or washing dishes, or something like that--a task that requires little brain power but which needs done. If I want to make the world go away for a bit, games are a much more effective means to do that. (Yeah, sure, it's escapism; you get within two centimeters of blowing yourself sky-high a few times and see if you don't want a means to relax for a bit without being bothered.) In TV/movies, I'm a passenger on someone else's journey--they take me where they want me to go. Which is fine, but I prefer to at least have SOME say in the journey.

There's also the social aspect. I used to play Diablo 2 with friends. It was more about hanging out and chatting than playing the game. Can't do that with TV.

#3: To add to the comments that have already been made: even a monopolist will reduce their price when their marginal cost falls.

And lower fuel prices ==> lower marginal cost.

Lower prices are not evidence against monopoly or collusion here. (They're not evidence in favor of it either, but Tyler seems to think they're evidence against it.)

2) There are popular YouTube videos where you can watch other people play games.

In England there's the Gogglebox TV show, which shows people watching popular TV shows and commenting on them.

#1: "Only one nonfiction book appears on the list: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. "

The Portland Trailblazer's Zach Collins has been injured for most of the year and according to an in-depth interview has started avidly reading for the first time in his life. I should add that he played one year of college at Gonzaga then turned pro and last year was his first year in the NBA. So he's probably 20 or 21 years old right now, and even in that one year in college did as little reading as he could, so he could concentrate on basketball.

So what's he reading now? Among other things, Dale Carnegie's book:

'One week, he was finishing the book “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. A couple weeks later, he was immersed in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. And recently, he finished “Everybody Always” by Bob Goff.

These days, Collins is reading “Lincoln’s Melancholy” by Joshua Wolf Stark.'

Better late than never, to discover reading. I guess Thiel would be pleased: skip college, concentrate on your career, and on your own time do the learning and reading that you missed by skipping college. Works for this NBA player, I don't think it's good advice for most people.

I've never read Carnegie's book but maybe I should. Zach Collins says it taught him the importance of listening to people.

The article's behind a paywall but here's the link:

#2: A lot of good points and indeed the next set of media billionaires will probably be from the online gaming industry (or are they already there?).

But there are limits. The author's right that compared to non-participatory media, gaming can continue to engage the viewer for hundreds or even thousands of hours.

But the key word there is "can". There are undoubtedly enough people out there who are so into gaming that whoever serves that market can make billions. But personally I don't want to engage in an activity that's going to suck up that many hours without providing benefits beyond occupying my attention and killing time.

Even just watching TV has become too much of a time suck for me. I've watched progressively less TV ever since I left middle school or high school.

And TV, compared to gaming, is easier to do. In terms of the "engagement requirements", the article claims this:

"Engagement Requirements: Gaming historically has been limited by its burdensome requirements. To play a game, you needed your “full” attention; multi-tasking wasn’t possible. What’s more, it took many hours to become “good” at a game, and even then, you might not be good enough to enjoy playing competitively with your friends or to enjoy complicated set pieces in single-player games. Through esports, you can now enjoy professional- grade play at any time, offering as much or as little attention and investment and time as you like."

The trouble with esports is that as with other sports you pretty much have to know at least a little bit about what you're watching, and the more that you know, the more that you can get out of watching to see say how Zach Collins is improving compared to his performance last year.

Some sports are sufficiently simple or engaging that even a casual viewer is drawn in and finds it exciting to watch. I do not put esports into that category, I haven't seen any video clips that I considered to be worth taking the time to watch. If I had more knowledge to the video game, I would've been better able to understand and appreciate what was going on on the screen, but I'm not going to invest in that self-training, because the crap on the screen is not worth watching -- and the need to invest in learning about the game increases that time cost.

Agreed on the whole timesuck thing.
That, rather than my declining reaction times, is why I largely cut back on gaming.

The exact same could be said about ANY game. Take football. If I wanted to learn football, how many different rules would I need to learn? How many technical details? How many dozens of teams and hundreds of players, past and present? The amount of information I'd have to obtain and retain is staggering. Most don't consider it significant, because they've invested in the sport over time, little by little. They never put much effort in at any one time, or spent more than an afternoon or maybe a weekend at it, so they don't consider it a major investment of time and energy.

As for the time sink, it's what you want it to be. You CAN put 200 hours into, say, Skyrim. Think of games not like movies but like a serial TV show. How many hours of, say, MASH or Friends can you watch at a time? A videogame is comparable, with the added benefit that if you can control how much content you see via how many side quests you do.

When you say "learn football" you must mean gaining knowledge of the game rather than learning how to play it. Fans willing to invest that kind of time are generally using their learning for gambling purposes. Esports don't require the physique or athleticism of football, though no doubt its enthusiasts would claim differently, just as chess players are always talking about what a grind that holy activity is, even though they don't need helmets or shoulder pads.

You know different fans than I do. The fans I know played or play football, and generally don't gamble on the game. These fans know both aspects, and expect those they converse with to be equally familiar with the game from both perspectives. It's an underling assumption in the conversations. And most don't gamble, at least not beyond the occasional $20 bet with friends; they genuinely find this sort of information interesting for its own sake, and for the social capital it gives them.

I think part of the problem is that you under-estimate the amount of information the average sports fan has about their preferred game. Go to any office in Alabama and ask who the Crimson Tide is playing, the quarterback of the opposition, and the coach's record of the opposition. Get coffee first, because it's going to be a LONG conversation, and will ramble on through most of the division. I haven't done a rigorous analysis, but casual interactions with folks leads me to believe that my numbers (dozens of teams and hundreds of players) isn't far from the average.

I do like the dismissive verbiage about esports at the end of your comment. It's nice to know I'm dealing with a hostile audience.

5. I will KILL for a good bagel out here on the left coast

I've never had a bagel in New York (the next time I'm there, I'll see what shops/bakeries are recommended and try one). But I've heard plenty of people from the NY area complain about the bagels they get on the west coast, and that article suggests a reason why: they're made by machines.

So the bagels that New Yorkers view as good -- are they made by hand? Is that the difference? Given that machines seem to have 30 times the productivity of professional bagel-makers (albeit with capital costs), I'd think the price difference must be pretty large. I'm guessing that I'll like my genuine New York bagel when I finally try one, but won't view the better taste as being worth the higher price.

Or maybe I will. I recently discovered that a local bakery makes about the best bread I've tasted so I buy it regularly even at $8 for a loaf.

I suspect, like most NYC-preferential ideas (pizza, art, entertainment writ large), that the bagels in NYC are either no different than or are actually inferior to those from other areas.

Bodo's in Charlottesville for example, beats the tar out of anything I've had in NYC.

2) There are different kinds of games and looking at "gaming" as one thing is too generalizing.

In my mind, the main division is between games that offer something of quality, like a great story. These games are not so different from books or movies and their consumption patterns are probably similar.

Then there are addictive games whose consumption patterns I expect to be closer to that of crack cocaine. They are designed to engage the players in a positive feedback loop of instant gratification. Many competitive online games are like this (and I would argue that the popularity of competitive online games is because of this). I firmly believe that over time our culture will start looking at this type of game and their players the same way we look at addictive drugs and drug addicts nowadays.

As a child of deaf and hard of hearing parents I with the Deaflix idea had been around fir them.

How is this 'recommended' link worse than the not recommended link?

Read the whole boring NYT article w/o finding out what the heck Ms so and so had against Goodnight Moon.

I recently picked up Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - despite not liking the series, I heard rave reviews about it. I spent 10 of the best gaming hours of my life exploring a beautiful, historically-rich, entertaining world...before getting to the title sequence and learning that it had only been the intro. No television experience has ever beaten that.

My best gaming session was a Halo game. 4 of us, with sniper rifles, on a huge level. First one to 25 kills wins. The game was intense. We were constantly both hunting and hunted, and the difference between hitting an opponent and getting hit was often only a few pixels. The game lasted for several hours, after which we all had to walk away (this was on a Friday night in college; normally this would only have been the start of our evening). The intensity left us physically shaking. Incredibly fun, and as you say, no television experience has beaten that. Nothing has ever come close.

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