The virtue of excellence
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Lemon Merengue Pie
Chocolate Bread Pudding.
Hmm. Someone ought to eat that.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Yes, there's continuous bickering over how much of the loot goes to which sector of the welfare-warfare state (guns vs. butter), but it's just a rhetorical game of manipulating small percentages and scaring the bejabbers out of the rubes with body counts.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
1 onion -- sliced
3-4 apple pork sausage (not breakfast size)
3-4 yams - skinned, chopped
3-4 green apples - chopped
Assorted random dried fruits...handful of each. I have used craisins, dried apricots, dried cherries, raisins, prunes in mlst combinations. Today: dried apricots + craisins
Assorted nuts -- 1 handful each chopped. I like pecans, but today I used walnuts, almonds, cashews.
In a relatively deep saucepan...
Pour in oil, sausage, onion, yams.
Cook medium low until sausage cooked enough to chop...
Chop sausage...throw in everything else and chopped sausage.
Cook until yams half-mushy.
Use as stuffing for turkey...butterflied pork loin...or serve as is. It's been a hit 7/7 over 5 years...with recipe requests. Enjoy.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
"The subject was also transported to the local hospital with two broken arms, a broken ankle, a broken leg, several missing teeth, possible broken ribs, multiple contusions, assorted lacerations, a broken nose, and a broken jaw...injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell off the curb after stabbing the marine," according to a police report.Watch them curbs.*
* I'm a card-carrying anarchist left libertarian. I detest the fact that the police have the power to make up shit like this. On the whole, I believe that the police are a substantially greater danger than criminals, drug-war-created drug-cartels aside. On the other hand...I'm not much fond of goblins, unless they're Perfidy's goblins. And, as a man...I think that if you're stupid enough to start a fight with a team of marines...you should be counted lucky if you don't receive a Darwin award...because it's clear you're too stupid to breed.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Here's Tyler Cowen with QoTD:
As a simple rule of thumb, just imagine every time you’re telling a good vs. evil story, you’re basically lowering your IQ by ten points or more.There is, of course, a lot more. It's from a transcript of his TEDx talk on what's wrong with stories. RTWT.
UPDATE: other quote:
Be more comfortable with agnostic, and I mean this about the things that make you feel good. It's so easy to pick a few areas you're agnostic in, and then feel good about like, "I'm agnostic about religion, or politics." It's a kind of portfolio move you make to be more dogmatic elsewhere, right? Sometimes, the most intellectually trustworthy people are the ones who pick one area, and they're totally dogmatic in that. So pig-headedly unreasonable you think, "How can they possibly believe that!?" But it soaks up their stubbornness, and then on other things, they can be pretty open-minded. So don't fall into the trap of thinking because you're agnostic on somethings, that you're being fundamentally reasonable about your self-deception and your stories and your open-mindedness.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
- MIT Open courseware fires volley #3 in the collapse of the education system. (UoPhoenix, Khan, Google AI)
- Athol Kay sounds awfully like Aretae on marriage here. He neglects the amazing impact of wealth, and labor saving devices, but otherwise, excellent.
- Elmo on Nerf Guns. Needs wider linkage.
- Sonic Charmer on Norks.
- Polumentis on a Declaration of War. Read.
- Mead on the coming state cannibalism of the university. It will be a good test of the formalist hypothesis that the university and the state are unitary, when the state eats the university. Short term thinking...and then the university will stop supporting the state, and then the good guys go back to winning.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Loyal Reader Wobbly asks for book recommendations.
What books have you read that you think other folk need to read?Let's see...
I've historically answered a question near this one here and here, and on education here.
However, it's been a couple years.
In the last few years...
- I've updated my de Mesquita recommendation to: The Predictioneer's Game. He's still required reading, but now a different book.
- Kahneman: Thinking Fast and Slow -- Great summary of much of what goes wrong in peoples thinking. Keith Stanovich is much shorter, and nearly as complete.
- The topic of evolutionary psychology/sociobiology was kicked off by the ant guy. But that's not the last thinking on the topic. Now that the primatologists/archaeologists are in the mix, we're learning that things we think of as "the way people are" are just wrong. The hunter/gatherer world that built the human psyche was just DIFFERENT. Sex At Dawn. Alternatively, Hierarchy in the Forest. An awful lot can be learned by understanding how people actually are.
- I recently picked up Neil Strauss's 2nd book: Rules of the Game. Very simply, it's one of the best teaching books I've ever read. If you ever write a book attempting to teach something, this is the model. OTOH, I think books are bad for teaching.
- Tim Harford's Adapt is probably the best explanation of the Aretae core feedback issue.
- MMSL has climbed to 2nd place on my list of marriage books, after Howard Markman's book.
- I have to add something on Diet/Health...but I don't know what to add. I've been in the paleo-space cognitively, not as much practically, both on exercise and nutrition for the last 12 years now...and I still don't have a go-to book.
- Mancur Olson is surprisingly good.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Explanation = 3% of total value...the other 90% of explanation is waste.
Example = 15% of value...surprisingly high.
Practice / Repetition = 40% of value ... Waste from praticing wrong thing, practicing thing wrong.
Feedback during practice = 30% of value ... Waste from bad feedback
Evaluation = 10% of value ... waste from teaching to the evaluation.
UPDATE: Apparently, Isegoria IS smart enough to do pictures.
I suspect in-group loyalty maps G vs. E more plausibly. That is, it talks about an important feature many people, much more so than malice.Historically, I have no doubt that Alex is correct. Historically, evil means against the tribe, and good means for the tribe. Hell, both Hegel and Socrates/Plato argued that explicitly. However, in the last ~400 years, it's become more and more disreputable to refer to "good" as such a highly relative thing as good for my tribe. And then in WWII, Hitler more or less ended that as a viable line, by being so obviously evil (according to built-in human moral intuitions) in his pursuit of "good for my tribe". Likely, that's because in Europe, for the last 400 years, the intellectuals were unsafe under any specific individual tribe/state/nation, just as intellectuals have ALWAYS been unwelcome under autocratic rule. Instead...in Europe for at least the past 400 years, have been mobile between nations, decamping as the political environment got too hot for their particular brand of disapproved thinking. [Aside: in China, I think they were less lucky...they didn't have a place to hide, and so their autocratic system stifled differences of opinion, travel, trade, and useful technology. Rather standard for an autocrat, really.]
And since the Intellectuals control the conversation...good as "good for my tribe" is a dead meme, despite some reactionaries trying to bring it back. Good has come to mean good for people in general, or even for living things in general. If you get tarred with the "trying to do stuff that's good for your group and bad for others", you're well-understood to have left the path of the righteous.
Indeed my quip from the last post:
There is good for me, vs. good for everyone. (Evil vs. Good)was meant to evoke this anti-groupist common ethics.
And it is precisely this anti-groupist common ethics that has me pro semi-unlimited immigration. If one counts the interests of ALL the human beings involved even a little bit...then immigration to a country with a standing, working culture and legal system is the single best thing that could conceivably happen to the immigrants. Good for my people and shitty for everyone else is a BAD answer.
I don't talk about it much here, but I've been known to be a gamer from time to time. If I prevaricate, I can pretend it's just my 15yo son who's involved...but that's not QUITE accurate. Most interesting modern news in the online gaming world, of course, is the release of Bioware's new MMORPG: Star Wars, The Old Republic (SWTOR). And my ELEMENTARY school (and since) gaming buddies just conned me into a 1x a week group.
In SWTOR, one has the option to play characters from the Sith Empire and characters from the Old Republic. What is the defining difference?
The Sith argue the line from the movie Hero (two thumbs up), or from Moldbug: Order, Peace, Shared Purpose first. Other shit later.
The Old Republic argues instead: Freedom and Self-Determination first. Other shit later.
So...Is Moldbug just a star wars expert? Or are they reading him?
Segueing political now...
There are two ethical axes one can sit on. Traditionally here's how the axes sit.
There is good for me, vs. good for everyone. (Evil vs. Good)
There is inclination towards order vs. inclination towards freedom. (Law vs. Chaos)
In reality, it's very hard to place anyone on the evil vs. good axis. Almost universally, we all do so...and as universally, we're looking at less than half the picture when we do so. Further, the Hansonian model of intelligence is "how well can we portray our interests as those of the community at large".
I'd suggest that we stop talking intent, and start talking effects.
To some extent, Moldbug and I sit at nearly opposite ends of the other, law-chaos continuum. On a different analysis, like most debates, we're not actually arguing against one another, but rather appearing to argue against one another while arguing orthogonally.
Moldbug is arguing effectively the "Hero" line that peace and stability are Teh winorz, and that Chaos is the enemy.
Aretae is arguing that innovation, and creative destruction are Teh uberz, and that control is the enemy.
The lines aren't ACTUALLY directly opposed. And as with all interesting disagreements, they're VALUE-first arguments, not fact-first arguments.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The question on college education is NOT presently:
1. Does college education make a salary difference?
This question seems moderately well answered. However...it turns out that the question seems to be substantially less well-answered than we think. I've been a homeschooler for a long time (longer than the 13 years I've had kids in my household).
Here are a set of questions we should be asking instead:
- What portion of the college education $ value is attributable to the fact that higher IQ kids go to school than lower IQ ones? In other words: would you rather hire a 125 IQ kid with no college, or a 105 kid with a degree? As someone who's done a few hundred programmer interviews...I don't even look at college. I look at work experience (years) and then talk to them for a while as an informal software IQ test. Other folks have told me that they are surprised when a college student with a CS degree can actually write code.
- What portion of the cost of college education is driven by insane government loans? Subsidized, and non-dischargeable. OMG, how much more support can you get!!! I'd bet it's a similar answer to the question of what portion of the subprime market was driven by government action in the form of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buying low downpayment mortgages? Hint (not quite all, but close).
- What is the value to college for the marginal (specifically, not average) student? The 100 IQ kid who can't decide whether to go to college, or take the welding position with his uncle's company?
- How much of the value of college is signalling vs. human capital value-increase? Related: What would be the net social result to making post-high-school education illegal? Restricting college to no more than 10% of the 18-year olds in the country?
- How much of the value of college is concentrated in a few majors? It surprises no readers of this blog, least of all Illka, that roughly the entire top 15% of salaries by college major are calculus-based majors. I have personally advised my eldest child that if the major isn't calculus-based, it's not worth going to college. I haven't said the other half: Unless you're a black male like he is, in which case, finishing college is free money, and more so if you're mathy.
- How much of the value of college is institutional prestige, rather than know-how learning? Hire the guy from your school? The difference between Harvard and Harvey Mudd in terms of student quality is at best minor, and more likely tilted substantially towards Harvey Mudd. HOWEVER, the $ value of going to school varies HUGELY by which institution you attend. Attending Harvard has an insane $ value, while Mudd has a medium one. Hell, look at the president.
- How much of that institution-dependent $ value of school is know-who, rather than know-how? I'm wagering all.
- What percentage of the value of going to college comes from the diploma (as opposed to, say, 3.5 years of school learning)? (Hint:~90%) If you don't finish, then you're better off not having gone. So any judgement on college value needs to take into account likelihood of finishing.
- What happens if you combine these factors? Basically...the marginal student going to college at the marginal institution can't handle calculus as currently taught (Calc is usually the discriminator-class in college...it's how we make sure the stupid and lazy people don't become engineers). And huge amounts of the salary benefit to college come from being mathy in college. And huge amounts of the value to college comes from going to name-recognition schools. And huge amounts of the reason people go to college even so involves massive government subsidy.
Eliminate government involvement in student loans, and watch how quick the bubble deflates. Keep government involvement, and wait for a big damn pop. Less than 15 years by my estimate.
My current bet remains: Modern, in-person college instruction at a generic school, is a zombie, heading down the path newspapers are on. By 2025, half of them will be dead, mostly low name-recognition private liberal-arts schools. Go online or die.
Postscript: Aren't student loans hideous? At 90% certainty, they're a great way to transfer money from the working-poor into the pockets of the rich colleges and the future rich, while screwing those who don't benefit from college, either by not going or by failing out or getting useless degrees (with non-dischargeable loans).
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
I was explaining to someone at dinner the other night that I came to Austrian economics in a very odd way. I did not study the sacred texts. I spent the prime of my career outside of the academy, experiencing the behavior of organizations. I saw first-hand the challenge that large organizations have in dealing with innovation. I saw the tenuous grasp that bosses have over their organizations. Above all, I saw how impossible it is for top management at firms to have the sort of information and control that is casually assumed in mainstream economic models [ed -- and by formalists]. It is a relatively small leap from that insight to the insight that government officials also lack the information that they need to exercise the sort of control that is casually assumed in mainstream economics.Emphasis added. Hayek FTW.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
From Ghana in the west to Mozambique in the south, Africa’s economies are consistently growing faster than those of almost any other region of the world. At least half a dozen have expanded by more than 6 per cent a year for six or more years.Of course, this is to be expected. The best single predictor of GDP growth is starting GDP (Lower is better). Property rights, etc., appear to be a rather distant 2nd. China's growth, therefore, is massively unimpressive...they were (and still are) dirt poor. All you have to do is be poor enough, and you grow like gangbusters, unless the government screws it up (Pre-Deng China, North Korea, Vietnam, etc.).
Singapore, and Hong Kong, OTOH, consistently rated as the top 2 free-est economies in the world for the last 10-20 years, are hugely impressive, maintaining huge growth rates even into high GDPs.
This research examined the relative sexual attractiveness of individuals showing emotion expressions of happiness, pride, and shame compared with a neutral control. Across two studies using different images and samples ranging broadly in age (total N = 1041), a large gender difference emerged ...RTWT. Women are most attractive displaying happiness. Men are most attractive displaying pride.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The young want everything. They think they an get everything swiftly and painlessly. They are far too confident. They don't know what their problems are, not really. They talk too much. They demand too much. Their ideas have not been tempered by the hard facts of reality. They're idealists, but they don't sense that it's the easiest thing in the world to be an idealist. It doesn't take any brains. This was said by Aristotle 2,300 years ago. Mencken once said that an idealist is someone who, upon observing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, assumes that it will also make better soup.
Kevin Carson makes a tremendous case that Government Transportation Subsidies are a substantial portion of the cause of the shape of our economy. Winner take all markets are (substantially) the reason we have a super-rich 1%...and the reason we have winner-take-all markets (outside of software) is that we have massive transportation subsidies...and have since ~1850.
- Mario Rizzo -- "Hayek’s approach attacks, root-and-branch, the macroeconomic way of thinking". Very worthwhile. (HT: Coordination Problem)
- Henderson -- rather balanced review
- Don Boudreaux -- DeLong is completely wrong.
I continue to insist that Hayek's work on the importance of distributed knowledge, and the essential impossibility of central planning qualifies him as the most important thinker of the 20th century.
Edit: Sorry, bad title first time
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I, however, am far more pro-Hayek than that. I started reading a bunch of original sources in economics in the 2007 time frame. Notably, after almost any particularly insightful claim made in the form of a book, the author would say somewhere..."of course Hayek got me here."
I am not convinced I'm exaggerating when I claim that Hayek is the most important thinker in ANY discipline in the 20th century. Hayek is the central theorist around limits to knowledge and ability to plan...which is the most important topic I know.
Hayek -- thinker of the century.
Monday, December 5, 2011
I think that in the most efficient world, (that is, the world which pleases the most people the most amount, and greatly displeases the fewest people) many people would be outraged by many things that they will not be in a position to do anything about. In exchange, all of the things which matter to themselves personally, would be more or less to their satisfaction.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
- Inter-group competition is almost always negative sum. Hurt my group a bit, hurt their group a lot. I argue against this, regardless who is doing it, and who they are doing it to...on general principle.
- I am a perma-outsider, with family in multiple races and categories, and friends all over the place. Anytime anyone is playing "advance my group" and screw the others, it's a direct attack on me, my family, and/or my friends. Heck...It's hard to find a group I belong to that constitutes MORE than 2%. Mixed race, pro-fecundity, long-term Polyamorous marriage, as an atheist, unschooling, left-libertarian, post-Objectivist, Extropian, socially colorblind, racism-aware, HBD-supporting anarchist with cultural instincts from Texas, California, Moscow, and Brussels. I am a teacher who dislikes the client-side of classrooms, and who teaches that teachers are unimportant, and a rationalist who argues from rationality that rationalism is largely impotent. Find me a place where I'm an insider, and I'll be shocked.
- The two cultures are self-reinforcing. Houston and Chicago are my primary case studies. A culture of general cooperation, and inter-group positive activity leads to a positive economic growth, which decreases inter-group conflict. If I'm busy getting rich, I don't have time to bitch about the Mexicans. And if they're getting rich, they don't have time to bitch about me. Contrarily, increased inter-group suspicion decreases trade, decreases wealth-creation, and causes more inter-group suspicion. Hence...I see the advocacy choice as one of: Do we advocate for the virtuous cycle, or the vicious one. Advocating a vicious, value-destroying cycle in order to relatively benefit my group seems hugely and massively bad to me. When some other group is also doing that, then I can choose to participate in the value-destruction process by advocating the vicious cycle...OR I can choose to oppose the value-destruction process entirely.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
"Thus, in Florence, the epicenter of the Renaissance, we see five factors propelling that city's innovation: patents, prizes, education, global markets, and cosmopolitanism, an openness to ideas from around the world. How do these factors apply today?"
I see two views of humanity. In the first view, people are stomachs. More people mean more eaters and less for everyone else. In the second view, people are brains. More brains mean more ideas and more for everyone else.
Also on good news for the day, Tabarrok is attacking the real problem in economics in a $3 ebook. Reporting back soon, but probably not until after work.