Thursday assorted links


#1 Well, evidently electricity has a role in fostering economic growth, so to speak. But there is more to it. It is more about institutions, I think.

Remember, under socialism, Brazil's economy collapsed. A year after returning to capitalism, Brazil has officially been declared a developed country by America's government's experts. I think this astonishing come back story shows the important role good institutions in fostering development.

@#1 - the biggest surprise in this story was not about Brazil--sorry Thaigo--but rather that the TVA was a success. Note the term "recent" below. This is because older research showed that subsidized electricity actually, paradoxically, had a *retarding* effect on growth in TVA serviced areas in the US south. This leads me to think that electrification for rural areas is overrated (since the benefits are not so obvious, if two different studies disagree in the conclusion). Much better if the putative farmers simply move to the nearest city (which is how China is growing so fast it is said).

from the Abstract: "The idea of a government-subsidized mass electrification program can be traced back to the historical “big push” development efforts of the previous century. In the United States, initiatives like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rural Electrification Administration, both of which were launched in the 1930s, dramatically expanded electricity generation capacity and rural electrification rates across the American South and other regions. Recent research finds that these programs generated meaningful long-run economic benefits (Kline and Moretti 2014; Kitchens and Fishback 2015; Lewis and Severnini, forthcoming). "

Well, TVA is cool, for sure, but think of a country bigger than the Roman Empire at its height going from Fourth World to First World in a year.

Yeah, but the Roman empire mostly consisted of the best real estate in the world. Brazil is mostly jungle, or jungle recently razed by ecoterrorists trying to make Mr. Bolsonaro look bad.

#1 Massively. I can already think of how it affects the skilled-trades and contractors in the USA and other countries, which would have to rely heavily on other power sources alone just to charge their tools. Reliable electrical grids is a hallmark of distinction along in developing vs. developed economies, if you still recognize those distinctions.

#2 What about religious countries that burn their dead and don't believe in grave-markets? I'm dubious this is scalable.

#6 Of course this is a no-brainer, but I also often wonder if airports, train stations and the like aren't also perfect mutation environments for microbes to develop resistance to commonly used methods to defend against them. I can't remember where I read it, but someone was saying on a long enough scale it was plausible for pathogens to develop resistance to alcohol hand sanitizer etc. I would think a multi-lateral approach would be best, some combo of soap, sanitizer, UV radiation, etc. in combination.

@EverExtruder - re #1 - it depends on the control group, whether electricity is good or not. For example, from memory, the old study about the TVA found free electricity actually retarded the US South, relative to a control group that did not have free power (namely, the US North, West, East), but, obviously, if you control group is people with no electricity at all (e.g., living in a cave and using candles) then free electricity ala the TVA model is a plus not a minus. Not sure about the 'recent research' cited re the TVA (see my comment above) but I bet their control group is more like cave people with candles rather than neighboring "saltwater" regions that are economic powerhouses (NY, CA, East Coast, Chicago region, etc). Conclusions in economics often depend on the control group, what's normal baseline. A study once found relative to iceboxes, refrigeration was not *that* big a deal, also railroads were not *that* big a deal relative to canals (modern research shows this, compare to older research), and so on (substitutes always exist).

#6 - Just have flight attendant at every boarding gate ensure every passenger uses hand sanitizer before boarding - Is that difficult?

Good point, how hard would it be to have one of those little alcohol-based hand-cleanser dispensers at the boarding gate. So the flight attendent doesn't let you get on until you've cleaned your hands.

Or they could hand out free sample bottles, or packets, on the plane, once everyone is in their seats.

"once everyone is in their seats."

That wouldn't help very much. People would have touched the seats, luggage door handles, bathroom fixtures, etc by that point. Then, 5 minutes after they use wipes they'll retouch a previously contaminated surface and continue the cycle.

I think you would need to enforce it either before or after boarding for it to work very effectively.


Talk to anyone in the airline industry and they will confirm the back seat - especially the 'pouch' - is hands down the dirtiest place, possibly on planet earth. Even before and after wouldn't solve the problem of people who put god-knows-what in their during the flight.

Still probably better than nothing. Just thinking that the boarding process might get slowed down if everyone has to stop to use hand sanitizer on the way in. Not an insurmountable hurdle, but passing out hand santitizer in flight would not delay boarding at least.

Just, put the hand sanitizers in the security line. They will not be the bottleneck.

Good suggestion!
The security line is usually backed up anyway. Put hand sanitizer halfway up the line and bored people waiting in line will just use it because they have nothing better to do.

Just cut a big channel in the boarding corridor, fill it with antiseptic, and have everyone walk though. No dip, no flight.

"once everyone is in their seats."

That wouldn't work because the passengers would touch surfaces while they were boarding and then would retouch them after they use the wipes.

Now if you enforced it upon boarding and/or deboarding it might have a significant effect.

Religious people live longer in "religious contexts" that is, when they actually don't take drugs or do other risky behaviors that increase one's risk of contracting or developing deadly diseases (like Trump Derangement Syndrome).

"Religion" that increases your lifespan is just another word for "listening to your doctor and dentist". Some people call it "black magic" or "voodoo" or "obamacare" but the accurate english translation is "religion".

> Religious people live longer in "religious contexts" that is, when they actually don't take drugs

This does fails to explain Episcopalians.

6) Now that everything has sensors and lights - they need to make the soap dispensers have flashing lights that keep flashing until you've scrubbed your hands the requisite amount of time. Say T-20 seconds once the soap is dispensed. The lights flash red or something (maybe even project a red-X down into the sink area) and once you have scrubbed long enough it projects a green check mark saying it's time to rinse.

Somebody give me my Nobel prize and 1 million dollars now.

"1. How much does electrification drive economic growth?"

That question is misleading. The paper is about Household Electrification. That's a pretty important qualifier.

This is a big deal

Looking forward to Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

"6. More and better handwashing at airports could significantly slow the spread of coronavirus."

Some Food & Beverage companies have automatic handwashing machines that you place your arms into and they spray your hands for 20 seconds or so. Maybe travelers could be encouraged to use something like that after they deboard aircraft.

About time for another exploration of the replication crisis in the social sciences.

The researchers had reported, for instance, that “the percentage of women among STEM graduates” in Algeria was 40.7%. But Richardson found that in 2015, UNESCO reported a total of 89,887 STEM graduates in Algeria, and 48,135 of them — or 53.6% — were women.

So where did 40.7% come from?

Eventually, Richardson’s team would learn that Stoet and Geary had added different sets of numbers: the percentage of STEM graduates among women (in Algeria’s case, 26.66%) and the percentage of STEM graduates among men (38.89%). That added up to a total of 65.55%. Then they divided the percent of women STEM graduates by the total, producing a rate of 40.7%.

“What they had done is create their own ratio of those two, which has never been validated or used in STEM research,” Richardson said.

That metric was not explained in the paper. In the recently issued correction, the authors went into detail on the math they’d come up with.

After Richardson and her colleagues recalculated each country’s figures, they found that overall, the study underestimated the number of women STEM graduates worldwide by about 8%.

Sigh, I see you actually failed to quote the validity of the charge and the response of the actual journal.

"In a separate article and series of blog posts on Tuesday, Richardson and her colleagues at Harvard’s GenderSci Lab laid"

You'll note this is not a peer reviewed source, but a "series of blog posts".

"Asked whether the paper should have been retracted instead of corrected, the editors, Tim Pleskac and Steve Lindsay, said by email: “In our view, retraction is appropriate when the reported results have been convincingly shown to be fundamentally in error. In our view, the Stoet and Geary article, post-Corrigendum, was not fundamentally in error.

Here is the journal article, if a blog does not satisfy you (though the math errors are glaring, regardless of where it is cited).

Well certainly a journal article is far superior to blog posts. And saying the math errors are glaring is silly. They used a ratio of women/men and described it as if it was women/total population.

I don't see that they even changed their math or had the need. They just updated the description to be precise.

#2 - gravestones are after you are already dead. The potential for endogeneity is great. Maybe people who live long favor feel that God has been good to them hence favor religious imagery on their tombstones. Or maybe there is some gene that makes you inclined to religion in your 60s. In both cases the causality goes from longevity to trappings of religion rather than the opposite. Ultimately your kids make your tombstone; maybe having religious children leads to longevity. Lots of explanations could be considered here.

So, this is Bartlett in trump's America.

#1 As the mania for increasing electricity prices and simultaneously decreasing the reliable supply of said electricity due to grid instability due to the unpredictable nature of 'renewable' electricity, I say that this question will be answered in the foreseeable future. Look to Germany.

So comparing #2 to seems to suggest different values for everything under comparison. Having only glanced at the article linked, I am going to go with Gravestones as being a pretty lousy signal given that they do not come close to matching the quantitative values of previous literature which broadly agrees with their qualitative stance.

3. Economic Interests Cause Elected Officials to Liberalize Their Racial Attitudes.
Depending upon the cause the number is about $200 per service in my hometown.

5. Do your microbes reveal your age?
A couple of beers and the microbes will spill their guts.

The first thing airports could do is to set their automatic touchless faucets to stay on for 20 seconds.

Then reference that with a sign.

I suspect that this is because closeknit communities tend to provide support for the elderly , not because being religious provides health benefits. Religious communities encourage social bonding and many religions actively encourage people to help elderly folks in the community. it's not the social bonding per se that makes them live longer though, it's the fact that younger members of the religious community help out the older members.

By observation, I have a neighbor who is 94 - some of his family lives close by, like a couple of blocks away, and visits regularly bringing food and driving him around. I have no doubt that being provided with healthy food prepared by his children and free transportation to doctor's appoints is part of what keeps him alive.

It's possible that living to 100 has less to do with diet than people think. When you're 90, having a person around who helps carry your groceries makes a significant difference. So the people that get a lot of community support in their elder years live longer, and religious communities tend to have lots of people who support the elderly.

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