Linky Friday #37


[E1] Not so long ago, “competency-based degrees” were considered the provice of degree mills. These days, public universities are giving it a try. Recommended!


[M1] Almost three in five doctors would not recommend the profession to young people.

[M2] The correlation between sleep deprivation and weight gain is of interest to me. Could it be because sleep deprivation makes us hungry for fat?


[T1] Flying conditions were recently used as an examplar for increasing inequality and the uhmm… crunch of the middle class. Here in the US, though, our airline seats are actually pretty average in size.

[T2] Here’s how UK’s Ryanair is saving money. During the last conversation on the subject, I was actually thinking about #6.

[T3] We flew on US discount airliner Frontier Airlines and actually thought quite a bit of it. They offer a nice balance of free-discount and amenities for those who want to pay a little extra.


[B1] Did our obsession with stock prices kill the recovery?

[B2] If you rent textbooks from Amazon, don’t take them across state lines.

[B3] Nissan is dusting off the Datsun brand to sell cheap cars in developing countries.

[B4] Peter Capelli argues that employers are not helping themselves by discriminating against the unemployed. Recommended!


[G1] From Murali: I understand if this happens in third world hell holes, but in America? Jacob Levy from BHL quotes the gist of it

[G2] From Murali: Massimo Renzo provides, I think, the most powerful argument against anarchy, but that’s just because I said it here first.

[G3] The “real” history of Area 51.

[G4] Ladar Levison, seller of encrypted email, ceased his business operations rather than comply with the government’s surveillance plans. The government was allegedly not pleased. Recommended!

[G5] A government in Louisiana is arguing that they should not be held responsible for a guard sleeping with a fourteen year old inmate because she consented.


[L1] Sonny Bunch writes about cell phone and theater etiquette.

[L2] Some uncomfortable truths about men, women, and dating. Women dig jerks, men only refrain from being useless because we want to have sex, and more.

[L3] Technology is at war with itself on the subject of digital security. Same with analog, apparently.

[L4] Evidently, the notion that clowns are scary has long roots in history. Recommended!

[L5] Intelligent people display less racist attitudes, but oppose remediating policies.


[W1] A Russian man altered the terms of his credit card contract and sued the bank. A judge ruled in his favor. Recommended!

[W2] The adventures of a bartender… in Antarctica.

[W3] I don’t see why these Belgian houses are supposed to be ugly.

[W4] As you all know, I am a sucker for photos of the Dakota oil boom. Also, an article on the Canadian oil boom. Not the one in Alberta, the oil boom in Newfoundland.

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25 thoughts on “Linky Friday #37

  1. L-2, seems not to be really that right. Its just conventional wisdom. Besides the actual lack of statistics and other data, casual observation would show that L-2 is wrong. If women really did like high-status jerks more than anybody else most heterosexual men would spend their entire life single. If men really liked hot women with big boobs than most woman than most women would be perpetually single as well. There is to much dating, sex, and marriage going on in real life for L-2 to be true.

    That isn’t saying that it doesn’t have a grain of truth in it. If your looking for something casual rather than long-term, regardless of your gender and sexuality, than you are liking going to look for somebody physically appealing but at least somewhat emotionally shallow since chances of that person developing emotional attraction are low. I think that this is where the idea that women did jerks come from. Its not that necessarily true but that for most casual relationships or one night stands, an emotionally shallow person has a better chance.

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    • ,

      Common sense only holds if people are bound by their preferences. I might prefer a woman with big boobs but if there is a limited supply and I don’t want to be single forever, I might compromise.

      If those of us who are married or in long-term committed relationships were asked, before meeting our significant others, to draft the description of a perfect mate, I am sure many of us would describe someone at least somewhat different than the person we are ultimately with. That doesn’t mean our descriptions were wrong, just that we weren’t bound by them, we weren’t exclusive to that sort of partner.

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  2. L5: I’m all for calling out people with supposedly higher intelligence for their racist attitudes. For example, I’m of at least moderate intelligence, and I know the “right answers” when it comes to my suite of privileges as a straight white male, and I have a pretty good idea of how race has worked in our history, etc., but I don’t always (usually?) put that knowledge into practice when it comes to my choices.

    But that article seems to miss some of the point. Opposition to some remedial measures can be based on motivations other than racism. One of the examples the article uses is busing, which at least in memory, seems to have a very rocky history. (I’m open to the possibility that many, maybe even a majority of, busing schemes were actually positive, and the big examples, e.g., Boston, were just outliers….I haven’t studied the issue at all.)

    Also, I wonder how much the study in question controls for social class. The article summarizing the study says researchers used certain tests to gauge the respondents verbal intelligence, but it’s hard to know, from that, whether one’s social class affected their performance.

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    • Pierre, I find that opposition to remedial measures for racism are never anything that remotely could be described as good even if they aren’t racist. They usually fall under some variety of FYIGM. Even if opposition to bussing wasn’t racist, it was at least based partly on wanting your own kids to go to a good school at the expense of other kids. In general, it was about not wanting your kid to go to school with Black kids. I mean they could end up dating in high school or worse, having sex with each other.

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      • Lee,

        On the one hand, I don’t deny what you say, and I get the logic. In fact, I suspect that in practice it is very difficult to separate racist motivations from reasonable objections to most remedial measures.

        But on the other hand, sometimes two remedial measures might be opposed to each other, so that support for one might entail opposition to another. Frankly, there is, or can be, a certain question-begging effect, wherein once something is called a “remedial measure,” it is therefore beyond reproach.

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    • One of the difficulties in gauging responses to remedial measures is accounting for variant goals.

      For instance, there is opposition to bussing that is routed in the idea that the educational gains students might make are counterbalanced by a disconnect with their local community. If you value the latter, you could reasonably object to bussing with neither a racist nor FYIGM mindset. Similarly, you might prefer a DIFFERENT remedial measure. Instead of bussing kids out of bad districts, lets make fewer bad districts. That sort of logic.

      I think you have to carefully parse out why someone might object. There are some major players within the anti-racist movements who would give really thoughtful responses to questions that might run directly counter to what you’d expect, but which you’d be hard press to be able to argue against.

      It’s not enough to know if someone gave the “right” answer to a question, but to understand the how and why for that answer.

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      • Yes, and that’s one reason I am somewhat suspicious of the study, or at least that article’s paraphrase of that study.

        I was going to say I am “very” suspicious, but my suspicion isn’t “very” at all. I do believe very highly intelligent people who “know” the right answer are very often racist. My suspicion is “very” strong when I suspect that the study did not control for social class, wherein upper class and middle class people tend to do well on the tests the researchers gave. (Maybe the researchers did so control, but the article’s paraphrase might have been off.)

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  3. B1: I would concur. The American preference for short-term profits over long-term growth and stability is probably one of the worst aspects of our economy and leads to too many boom-bust cycles. I also dislike IPO-mania. Tech boom 2.0 and social media often seems to be the land of short-term mania instead of investing in companies with long-term potential. Hence the rise and fall of Zygna. Tech people seem to like short term shocks as well. Hence their favorite word: “Disruption.” I wonder if there is something in the American character that prefers these booms though. They do tend to generate a lot of wealth very quickly.

    Interestingly, Asian companies (from what I hear) tend to focus on long-term plans and growth. This is not to say that they never have problems. Sony has been taking a lot of hits recently. However, it does seem more stable in the long run for everyone. There was an antitrust case where American manufacturers sued Japanese companies over these long term plans. The American plaintiffs argued that the Japanese companies were selling in the states at a loss in order to drive the American companies out of business. This was part of some decade long plan according to the American companies.

    Similar arguments are made against Amazon today.,_Ltd._v._Zenith_Radio_Corp.

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    • The Japanese economy has been relatively stagnant for nearly 20 years, with real per-capita GDP increasing only about 15%, compared to 35% or so for the US, which itself has not exactly been growing like gangbusters. I guess that’s stability of a sort, but I’ll take uneven growth over stagnation.

      The explanation in the linked article strikes me as incomplete, though I haven’t read the report described therein. In principle, a stock’s price should be equal to the net present value of all future dividend payments, so it should not be possible to prop up current share price by sacrificing future value. Of course, that’s only true if investors can perfectly predict future dividend payments, which obviously they can’t.

      But this points us to the problem: If Ljungqvist et al are correct, investors and analysts are underestimating the returns to investment and thus overvaluing companies which underinvest. But this hasn’t always been the case—the Internet bubble and subsequent crash, just 15 years ago, were largely due to investors erring in the other direction and overestimating returns to investment. And don’t forget that Japan had its own bubble that popped just ten years before that, and China appears to be at the tail end of a bubble now.

      There’s a pendulum effect, I think. The crash made investors wary and drove them to safe investments. Eventually they’ll tire of lackluster returns and start seeking more risk, and the cycle will begin anew. It’s unfortunate, but what are you going to do? Letting the government direct investments has historically been even worse.

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  4. G1: I can’t remember where I heard this but someone theorized/speculated that Americans might accept civil forefiture because it is an alternative to taxes. The big abuses in the law tend to come from areas where the assets help directly fund the police and DA including salaries. This provides a massively bad incentive.

    Areas with less abuses tend to put the money into a general fund and/or something completely unrelated to law enforcement.

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    • Yes, states who insist the results of CAF go into an unrelated fund (e.g. a general school fund, or the like) will find that the police can get around that by inviting the feds in. The feds do the actual seizure, then return up to 80% of the money to the local PD, bypassing the state rules.

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  5. W4: I like the caption on one of the pictures that mentions that Williston’s last prosperous period ended with the last oil boom in the 1980s. My guess is that the current boom has another ten years or so to run.

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