Hawaii had four cavities on her first visit to the dentist, when she was three. We waited but eventually got them filled, even though they were baby teeth. This week, they found four more cavities. (There's some tooth development thing that happens perinatally that went wrong, so her enamel is crappy.)
Now they're telling us she needs to floss daily. I actually enjoy flossing but it seems like one of those tasks that's onerous even for adults. I'm reeling from contemplating getting our five year old to floss daily (and not sure how strictly we'll end up carrying it out.)
Nick S. writes: Kevin Drum points out that Americans don't eat many vegetables other than potatoes, corn, and lettuce.
Regardless of how the USDA classifies them, I'll continue to put potatoes (and corn) into the starch food group. Aside from that, it appears that we eat plenty of salad (head lettuce, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes) but not much of anything else. All the things we traditionally think of as vegetables (broccoli, peas, beans, etc.) are consumed in such tiny quantities they don't even show up.
Heebie's take: What would Salvador Dali say?
I only like to eat what has a clear and intelligible form. If I hate that detestable degrading vegetable called spinach it is because it is shapeless, like Liberty.
I attribute capital esthetic and moral values to food in general, and to spinach in particular. The opposite of shapeless spinach, is armor. I love eating suits of arms, in fact I love all shell fish... food that only a battle to peel makes it vulnerable to the conquest of our palate.
He wrote a cookbook, it turns out.
I always get annoyed when people take counterfactuals seriously, just because you can't really do a ceteris paribus counterfactual, due to the awesome power of butterfly wings. But today, while I was contemplating my own social ineptitude, I remembered this story, and realized, maybe for the first time, that although not turning the young lady (whose name I can't even remember) away would have been vulgar and wrong, and would have led to humiliating overwrought drama--although all that is true, yet, given my utter inability at that age to graciously and definitively break up with someone, and the fact that my miserable girlfriend, who I failed to cheat on, transferred to my college the next year, thereby rendering my college experience SHITTY--my life would have been (ceteris paribus) much better if I'd made the clearly wrong decision.
Of course, this is just diagnostic of my character flaw, the inability to break up, etc., and that's part of the point of counterfactuals, but in real life, my character flaw would take years to overcome, while freedom was staring me in the face, and wearing a teddy at that.
So, in awareness that I'm inviting an orgy of humblebrags, examples of times you did the right thing, but it turned out to be, given who you were, and the life you were living, the wrong thing?
For bookclub this month, a friend chose a Robert Heinlein novel. Having never ever read science fiction, but knowing that he's considered one of the good writers, I was pleased. I figure the best stuff in any genre is worth reading, and I was never going to get around to it otherwise.
I'm about 50 pages in. The writing is good and engaging. I'm just...not that into it. It's kind of confirming that great science fiction is still not my thing. (It's Time Enough For Love.)
Anyway, there are lots of people with lots of reasons that they aren't in their preferred romantic configuration, but anyway, here's some of them.
Are computer-generated compactness-optimizing voter districts the way to go? It doesn't seem ideal. I'd certainly pick that over current gerry-mandering efforts, but that's not saying much. Maybe requiring that districts start with the compact-district map, and then argue from there why they want to alter it and what effect it would have?
How different cultures understand time. Maybe I'm just giddy from too much packing and moving of boxes, but I found this article hilarious and full of delicious lines.
It's not surprising, then, that business decisions are arrived at in a different way from in the West. Westerners often expect an Asian to make a quick decision or to treat a current deal on its present merits, irrespective of what has happened in the past. Asians cannot do this. The past formulates the contextual back- ground to the present decision, about which in any case, as Asians, they must think long term--their hands are tied in many ways. Americans see time passing without decisions being made or actions performed as having been "wasted." Asians do not see time as racing away unutilized in a linear future, but coming around again in a circle, where the same opportunities, risks and dangers will re- present themselves when people are so many days, weeks or months wiser. As proof of the veracity of the cyclical nature of time, how often do we (in the West) say, "If I had known then what I know now, I would never have done what I did?"
Also with copious diagrams. (I'm sure there are nuggets of truth throughout, but the whole tone is just very funny to me.)
This woman left her son in the car for a few minutes on a cool, overcast day. Someone videotaped her and called the cops, and she got charged and arrested. Next time she should really leave the car running and the hazards on. Nothing says "I'll be back in 30 seconds" like an invitation to steal child and car.
It's mostly themes we've touched on before - the mother who got charged for leaving her small children to be watched by the 9 year old at the mall for a few hours, the public demand that kids be supervised constantly, etc.
I have a new theory: a contributing factor might be the rise of the horror-story-as-promotional-device. Did this happen much before, say, MADD? I've got it in my head that there's been a shift from private grief and shameful let's-never-talk-about-how-cousin-drowned-at-the-picnic to the current model, which is to channel your grief into transforming the world and making sure other parents don't suffer through your hell. It's basically a good thing - if your child dies due to complications from premature birth, and as part of your grieving process you become very involved in March of Dimes, then that is absolutely good and productive and so on.
But I wonder if the over-parenting vigilance isn't partly due to the bombardment of individual stories of the child who was only out of sight for three minutes. Like Kahneman says, our brains are really terrible at statistics.
A Google News headline has just informed me that the hockey championship is between New York and Los Angeles. I have no interest in hockey, but because there's nothing, literally nothing, more annoying than New Yorkers talking up New York, I hope that Los Angeles wins not only the series, but the license to go full Mongol on the five boroughs.
they showed no mercy, slaughtering every man, woman, and child, looting the buildings before setting them afire. The city burned for a month; a year later, a visitor reported that skulls were piled outside the walls and the streets were slick with human fat.
Film student impersonates a police officer a few times, then makes a movie about it. The movie sounds terrible, but this line jumped out at me (not from the director).
"Who doesn't wonder what it feels like to be a cop?"
Most people? It had never occurred to me to wonder that. I've sometimes thought that being a detective would be cool, in an intellectual puzzle kind of way, but how it "feels" to be a beat cop? Nope. I'm also not completely sold on the director's interpretation of events here.
"All of a sudden, I notice, there's an energy," he said. Girls looked interested. Drunken frat boys showed respect. It was, he explained, "like wearing a superhero uniform"
Or it was a combination of the fact that people notice a cop walking by, and the adrenalin of knowing that he was committing a crime by wearing the uniform.
Clew writes: It seems like an awful waste to be sweeping material back into the gravity well. Won't some far-sighted squillionaire invest in sweeping it up and parking it at a Lagrange (with a property claim on it)?
Heebie's take: which is worse, the inner-outer space trash or the island of trash in the Pacific Ocean?
The Working Families Party was considering not endorsing Cuomo in his gubernatorial re-election race. For non NYers who don't get why this is a big deal, the WFP has any political force at all because it has a printed line on the ballot, and local election law allocates ballot lines to any party who's gotten at least 50,000 votes for it's candidate in the last gubernatorial election. Small parties get lines by endorsing a major party's gubernatorial candidate -- lots of people will vote for the Dem. candidate on the WFP line, who wouldn't dream of voting WFP against a Dem. So threatening not to endorse the Dem. candidate is risking the meaningful existence of the party: it's a big, existential deal.
Anyway, they worked it out, and are endorsing Cuomo, despite his general awfulness. But they seem to have gotten an agreement that he'll unwind the deal where five turncoat Democrats in the State Senate are voting with the Republicans to maintain Republican control of the Senate (how is this a deal Cuomo can make? Albany politics is, as I said, byzantine.) If the deal sticks (and of course the WFP came across with their endorsement up front, but what they got out of Cuomo is an IOU, so the whole thing could be a swindle) it's a very good thing. As far as I understand what's going on at all. Which, in NYS politics, I usually don't.
Apple just announced a new programming language.
What with all the motion capture devices available these days, I figured that someone had, at last, definitively answered the urgent question of how much athletes in various sports run during a game. Yup.
[Chapter 4 is next Monday, and I'll collect volunteers for chapters 5 though 8 in this thread. Same rules as before: keep it roughly on topic, but drop-ins and lurkers are welcome to participate, and if you have something relevant to say, don't worry about not having done the reading.
Essear's notes on Chapter 3, explaining how exorbitant accumulation of capital killed the dinosaurs, under the fold. LB]
Prior reading group posts:
Piketty chapter 3: The Metamorphoses of Capital
This is the first chapter of Part Two of the book, which is focused on understanding the capital-to-income ratio over time in different parts of the world. So we're not yet into the part about inequality; here we're interested in how the total amount of wealth is varying, but not (for the most part) in who has that wealth. Chapter 3 is specifically about the capital-to-income ratio in Britain and France since 1700.
The key information in this chapter is conveyed in a set of figures that show how much capital there was in these two countries, in units of (annual) national income, and how it was split among public and private assets. The big picture is: the capital-to-income ratio was pretty constant, with the total wealth in Britain and in France being about seven years of income, from 1700 up until 1910. In the decade from 1910 to 1920 the amount of wealth in both countries dropped precipitously. It remained low until after World War II and has been steadily growing again ever since, currently having reached values close to (but still lower than) where it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Broadly speaking, the period encompassing the two World Wars and the Great Depression completely demolished the accumulated wealth of Britain and France, but they've largely recovered since.
Beneath that big picture there are some interesting details. The first is that even in the interval from 1700 to 1910, when the capital-to-income ratio of both countries stayed very flat, the nature of the capital changed significantly (hence the chapter title). Over half of the wealth (around four years of national income) in 1700 in both Britain and France was in the form of agricultural land. Agriculture declined steadily throughout the following centuries, accounting for only about one year of national income in France in 1910 and even less in Britain. Wealth in the form of housing remained fairly constant. Part of the slack was taken up by "other domestic capital," which lumps together the land and buildings used for business, business infrastructure, machinery, patents, and so on. It includes the value of corporations as measured by the share price of their stock. In Britain the wealth in this category was about 1.5 years of national income in 1700 and closer to 3 years on the eve of World War I, so this seems to reflect the general picture of a rapidly industrializing country. The other big change over the course of this time period was a large growth in net foreign capital, reflecting the overseas empires of Britain and France.
The shock of the World Wars very quickly destroyed all the net foreign capital in both countries; in both cases it stands near zero today. (They own things overseas, but foreign countries also own things in Britain and France, and on balance these cancel each other out.) So since around 1950, both countries have wealth in the form of a relatively even split between housing and "other domestic capital" (which, again, you can roughly think of as business and industry). The relative share of housing increased significantly only in the last few decades.
One question this raises is why (or if) there seems to be a relatively steady ratio of 6 or 7 in wealth-to-income absent giant shocks like the World Wars: it held very steady even when agriculture was being replaced by industry and imperialism, and it seems to be achieving a similar value now with a mix of industry and housing. Should we expect growth to asymptote to about 7 again? Is there a good reason for this characteristic value, or could the future value either exceed it or fall short? At least to my eye the flatness of the curve from 1700 to 1910 demands an explanation, and I don't think Piketty has given us one so far.
The other main point of the chapter is that these numbers are almost completely dominated by private, rather than public, wealth. France is a bit of an exception in the period from about 1950 to 1970 (roughly the "Trente Glorieuses"), when a lot of industry was nationalized and public capital briefly amounted to about a third of the total. Public debt in Britain peaked around the time of the Napoleonic wars (reaching about twice the national income), but the government successfully paid back its creditors over a long period of time, so that many of the wealthy people in Britain lived on interest from government bonds for much of the 19th century. Britain amassed a large public debt again during the World Wars, but this was inflated away. (In fact, inflation played a significant role in the decline of wealth in both countries in the 20th century, a point Piketty returns to in the next chapter where he breaks down the various effects that destroyed wealth.) Public debt in France was generally much lower than in Britain, in part because its more turbulent political history meant more frequent inflation and even a default on the debt following the French Revolution. Nonetheless, broadly speaking, inflation was a much bigger deal in both countries in the 20th century than in the previous centuries.
Piketty makes an interesting observation about attitudes toward public debt over time. In the 19th century, when inflation was generally low, government bonds provided steady incomes for the wealthy, and were resented by the less wealthy. This contrasts with the 20th century attitude that public debt can finance social programs that redistribute money and help to reduce inequality. This change of attitude partly coincides with increased inflation: the wealthy don't benefit as much from lending money to the government if the value of money is declining, and the government can finance programs with debt instead of taxes. Piketty observes that inflation is low now and so it's not so clear that in the future we won't revert to the 19th century's view of public debt.
There are some other interesting details but I think I'll stop here while this is still more of a summary than a paraphrase. In conclusion, make Halford emperor.
Now that I've heard of it, I feel obligated to link to The Casual Sex Project, which is a collection of accounts of people's hook-ups. It's as monotonous and unsexy as you would (wouldn't?) expect. Maybe the hook-ups were great and the writing is bad. You can do better!