Wednesday, May 31, 2023

When looking at the debate over Samuelson's USSR forecasts, at least we can all agree that somebody comes off looking bad.

I've been meaning to write this up for a few months now, but recent events have pushed it back to the forefront.

A number of times over the past few years, Andrew Gelman has revisited this Marginal Revolution post from Alex Tabarrok. (emphasis added.)

In the 1961 edition of his famous textbook of economic principles, Paul Samuelson wrote that GNP in the Soviet Union was about half that in the United States but the Soviet Union was growing faster.  As a result, one could comfortably forecast that Soviet GNP would exceed that of the United States by as early as 1984 or perhaps by as late as 1997 and in any event Soviet GNP would greatly catch-up to U.S. GNP.  A poor forecast–but it gets worse because in subsequent editions Samuelson presented the same analysis again and again except the overtaking time was always pushed further into the future so by 1980 the dates were 2002 to 2012.  In subsequent editions, Samuelson provided no acknowledgment of his past failure to predict and little commentary beyond remarks about “bad weather” in the Soviet Union (see Levy and Peart for more details).

I've always had the nagging feeling that this was not the whole story, a reaction I often have with Marginal Revolution posts, but it wasn't until recently that I came across this very good Paul Krugman piece discussing how the collapse of the Soviet economy helped put Vladimir Putin in power that I found out what Tabarrok had left out.

First, some background: Nowadays everyone views the old Soviet Union, with its centrally planned economy, as an abject failure. But it didn’t always look that way. Indeed, in the 1950s, and even into the 1960s, many people around the world saw Soviet economic development as a success story; a backward nation had transformed itself into a major world power. (Killing millions in the process, but who’s counting?) As late as 1970, the Soviet Union’s success in converging toward Western levels of wealth seemed second only to Japan’s.

Nor was this a statistical mirage. If nothing else, Soviet performance during World War II demonstrated that its industrial growth under Joseph Stalin had been very real.

After 1970, however, the Soviet growth story fell apart, and by some measures technological progress came to a standstill.

 If you follow the link to the Robert C. Allen paper, you'll find the following graph:

Assuming that the US was one of the boxes on the far right, when "Paul Samuelson wrote that GNP in the Soviet Union was about half that in the United States but the Soviet Union was growing faster," he was simply stating the facts.

To be clear, I didn't know any of these things about the economy of mid 20th century USSR. The only reason I started to look into it was because I happened to read the Krugman op-ed. Before that my knowledge was be limited to the memory of some disastrous famines and a few anecdotes about Soviet factories turning out concrete couches, and I would have had no idea that Samuelson's models were consistent with the actual GDP/GNP data.

Quick caveat. Neither GDP nor GNP is a measure of quality of life. The Soviet Union was a terrible place. As Krugman points out, Stalin's policies killed millions of his own people. We should also note that economies are complex things that can never truly be boiled down to a single scalar. The same country that could build the world's second most powerful military could also be comically inept at making consumer goods and tragically bad at producing food.

But this is a conversation about growth, and given those terms, there are three great unresolved questions about the Soviet economy. Why was growth so good for forty plus years? Why was it so stunningly bad after that? And what changed?

This opens up multiple really big warehouse-store cans of peas, but if we keep focused on the question of Samuelson's treatment of the Soviet economy, it certainly looks reasonable up to say the late 60s or early seventies. After that, the performance of the Soviet economy started to rapidly collapse. What exactly do we expect a modeler to do under those circumstances? The first option is to treat the new numbers as an outlier. The second is to treat them as a trend. The third is to attempt to incorporate the new data while still not ignoring the bulk of the numbers. It appears that Samuelson went with door number three which would seem to be the most reasonable choice.

There were certainly issues with Samuelson's approach. Ironically, by editing out the genuinely impressive and largely uncontroversial period of Soviet economic growth, Tabarrok missed the chance to point out a real and fairly obvious flaw in Samuelson's forecast. Small economies modernizing often rack up impressive growth rates but they by nature follow S curves. You can create a big bump in GDP by moving a peasant or surf from the fields to the factory, but you can only do it once.Linear extrapolation was clearly a mistake.

In general, though, if you start with the fact that the observed data included a 40 plus year run of extremely high GDP growth, then look at where the data was at the point in time when Samuelson made a particular statement or assertion (taking into account a one or two year time lag between the analyses being run and the copyright date on the textbook), most of it looks okay. Were there changes that should have come one edition before? Sure, but the impression of clownishness which the George Mason crowd is pushing here only works if the audience doesn't know the history of Soviet economic growth, but does know how the USSR ended up. Taking all of that into account, Samuelson comes off looking not all that bad. Alex Tabarrok, on the other hand...

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Fallen of World War II

Neil Halloran is a film-maker who specializes in data visualization. Everything I've seen from him is good, but he's best known for this remarkable video on the human toll of the second world war.

Monday, May 29, 2023

"Humor in Uniform"

As previously mentioned, the names of two of the best known cartoon characters to come out of WWII (Snafu and Sad Sack) were euphemisms for a couple of decidedly colorful phrases.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Deferred Thursday Tweets -- "both metaphorically *and* literally a dumpster fire."

Deep in the heart of Texas


I actually live a few blocks from Warner's Studios.

I'm sure the striking writers won't use this as an excuse for mockery.

Rampell is one of the journalists you should be listening to

Ironically, calling this a hostage situation is the one point AOC and Matt Gaetz agree on.

Layers of wrong

An interesting alternate take.

Abortion notes: the six-weeks ban is becoming the new red state standard, and anecdotally but unsurprisingly, that appears to be widening the gender gap.

Also in gender gap news.

Actually, I'm surprised the Protocols haven't been coming up more often.

Check out the text at the fifteen second mark.

Remember this quote when you get to the penultimate tweet.

Nate Silver probably reveals more than what he intends here, and he's speaking for a large segment of the pundit class. Most of the non-backsliding NeverTrumpers objected less to the man's character and more to his attacks on democracy, rhetoric of hate, and nascent fascism. By that standard, the only candidate they shouldn't treat with disdain is Asa Hutchinson, and it would take at least two black swans for him to get the nomination.

Though indictment can certainly qualify as black swan

Indoctrination by globes.

A homeless man...

And in closing.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

What could possibly go wrong? ...[click] go wrong? ...[click] go wrong? ...[click] (another Thursday Tweet highjacked by last minute events)

One of the main strengths of Twitter is its ability to capture the reactions to an event in real time, before the dust has had a chance to settle. These impressions can be rough and inchoate, and they often age quite badly, but they are an important part of a story and can be a useful corrective against self-serving revisionism and tricks of memory.

Here are two accounts published shortly after the event in question.


The rest of these tweets are reactions posted while the event was taking place, mostly from the small group of people I follow.


Megan McArdle often fares badly when people go back and review the tape.

Of course, this sort of thing is basically slow pitch for NYT pitchbot.

Eventually, things did start running a bit smoother.

Of course, being able to get his message out was a bit of a mixed blessing for the candidate.

And the winning tweet goes to the White House, for this understated bit of shade casting.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ron DeSantis didn't have any more personality back in August than he does now...

He was just as devoid of political talent. His polling surge was never actually impressive and looked considerably worse when you dug into the numbers

Nonetheless, pretty much the entire political/journalistic establishment from the New York Times on down (with only a handful of exceptions) convinced themselves and tried to convince us that DeSantis had a virtual lock on the nomination. Political commentators, hard news reporters, data journalists, all found endless ways of telling us that everything was "good news for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis."

A few analysts came out of this with their dignities intact. Marshall kept his objectivity. Jamelle Bouie was one of the first to point out the lack of charisma. Michael Hiltzik did a good job debunking the "won the pandemic" meme. 

For the vast majority of journalists, it was a summer of unbroken wishful analytics and herd mentality. They'd like to forget their predictions about Ron (and about Dobbs not being that big a deal and the Red Wave and the coming recession and Russia's lean and lethal fighting force and everything else they got wrong in 2022). Don't let them.

 From TPM:

For the last two or three months we’ve had this on-going spectacle of major media continuing to portray Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the arch-rival and potential slayer of ex-President Trump, even after it’s become increasingly clear he has really no chance at all of winning the nomination. In fairness to DeSantis, it’s unlikely that anyone stands a chance, unless the judicial system or mortality remove Trump from the stage. But it’s only with DeSantis that you have the yawning gap between perception and reality. Everyone knows Pence and Scott aren’t happening.

Now we’re seeing the first signs of the Bigs catching on.

Tara Palmeri, consummate insider D.C. journalist now writing for Puck News, spent some time trying to cover DeSantis in New Hampshire during his recent visit and found him awkward, incapable of the basic blocking and tackling of retail politics, unable to sustain eye contact and generally weird. You may have seen some of the cringeworthy videos from his Florida jaunt. Palmeri sums it up like this: “It was my first personal observation of what DeSantis’s critics mean when they call him a paper tiger — a superficially perfect test-tube Republican candidate who, on closer inspection, is probably not ready for prime-time.”

This is notable for two reasons. To date, most prestige reporters questioning DeSantis’s candidacy have focused on the growing polling gap between DeSantis and Trump, his unwillingness to attack Trump and his inability to find his footing against Trump’s growing media presence and mounting attacks. That’s looking at the campaign chess board and seeing that the pieces aren’t arranged for a DeSantis win. Palmeri’s comments are about seeing the guy in person and realizing he’s out of his league.


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

I shouldn't have to say this but a 49-25 poll is not good news for the 25 (and it gets worse)

First off, the decision of the New York Times to even conduct a presidential poll more than two years before the election is irresponsible and bad for for democracy. It distracts from important conversations and, since the data are largely worthless, its main function is to introduce noise into the conventional wisdom. 

But while the data are not worth wasting any time analyzing, the analysis in the NYT piece by Michael C. Bender is worth talking about, and I don't mean that in a good way. This represents a disturbing throwback to the wishful analytics of the second half of 2015, showing that many data journalists and the publications that employ them have learned nothing in the past seven years.

Back in the early (and not so early) days of the last Republican primary, 538, the Upshot, and pretty much everyone else in the business were competing to see who could come up with the best argument for why being consistently ahead in the polls was actually bad news for Trump. These arguments, as we pointed out at the time, were laughably bad.

Just as being ahead in the polls was not bad for Trump in 2015, the results of this poll (to the extent that they have any meaning) are not bad for Trump in 2022. When elections approach, parties tend to converge on whoever has the clear plurality, and 49% is a big plurality, particularly when a large part of it consists of people who are personally loyal to Trump rather than to the GOP. On top of that, 53% of self-identified Republicans had a "very favorable" opinion of the former president and 27% were "somewhat favorable."

80% favorable is a good number.

Politically, this is a time of tumult, and all predictions at this point are little more than educated guesses, but given the losses and scandals Trump had seen by the time this poll was taken, his support was remarkably solid, which is the opposite of how Bender spun it.

And it gets worse

Here's the headline and the beginning of Bender's piece. [emphasis added.]

Half of G.O.P. Voters Ready to Leave Trump Behind, Poll Finds

Far from consolidating his support, the former president appears weakened in his party, especially with younger and college-educated Republicans. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is the most popular alternative.

By focusing on political payback inside his party instead of tending to wounds opened by his alarming attempts to cling to power after his 2020 defeat, Mr. Trump appears to have only deepened fault lines among Republicans during his yearlong revenge tour. A clear majority of primary voters under 35 years old, 64 percent, as well as 65 percent of those with at least a college degree — a leading indicator of political preferences inside the donor class — told pollsters they would vote against Mr. Trump in a presidential primary.

Notice the phrase "GOP voters." That 49% refers to the respondents who said they thought they would vote in the Republican primary. Among that group, those who identified as Republicans went for Trump over DeSantis 56% to 21%.

If we're talking about who is likely to be nominated (which is, as mentioned before, an incredibly stupid and irresponsible question to be asking more than a year before the election), people who say they are going to vote in the primary are a reasonable group to focus on, but they cannot be used interchangeably with Republicans, which is exactly what Bender does.

While we're on the subject, this was a survey of 849 registered voters, so when we limit ourselves to those who said they were going to vote in the Republican primary then start slicing and dicing that, we are building big conclusions on a foundation of very small numbers.

And it gets worse. [Emphasis added]

While about one-fourth of Republicans said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion about Mr. DeSantis, he was well-liked by those who did. Among those who voted for Mr. Trump in 2020, 44 percent said they had a very favorable opinion of Mr. DeSantis — similar to the 46 percent who said the same about Mr. Trump.

Should Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Trump face off in a primary, the poll suggested that support from Fox News could prove crucial: Mr. Trump held a 62 percent to 26 percent advantage over Mr. DeSantis among Fox News viewers, while the gap between the two Floridians was 16 points closer among Republicans who mainly receive their news from another source.

Here's a fun bit of context. Fox has been maxing out its support of DeSantis for years now.

Steve Contorno writing for the Tampa Bay Times

(from August of 2021):

The details of this staged news event were captured in four months of emails between Fox and DeSantis’ office, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through a records request. The correspondences, which totaled 1,250 pages, lay bare how DeSantis has wielded the country’s largest conservative megaphone and show a striking effort by Fox to inflate the Republican’s profile.

From the week of the 2020 election through February [2021], the network asked DeSantis to appear on its airwaves 113 times, or nearly once a day. Sometimes, the requests came in bunches — four, five, even six emails in a matter of hours from producers who punctuated their overtures with flattery. (“The governor spoke wonderfully at CPAC,” one producer wrote in March.)

There are few surprises when DeSantis goes live with Fox. “Exclusive” events like Jan. 22 are carefully crafted with guidance from DeSantis’ team. Topics, talking points and even graphics are shared in advance.

Once, a Fox producer offered to let DeSantis pick the subject matter if he agreed to come on.

If I were DeSantis's campaign manager, this poll would scare the shit out of me. Fox has pushed him to a degree unprecedented for a politician at that stage of his career. He has also gotten tremendous (and appallingly credulous) coverage from the mainstream press, but he just doesn't register. I know political scientists and data journalists don't like to talk about things like personality, let alone charisma, but for whatever reason, DeSantis has not made much of an impression.

It's possible cataclysmic events (of which we're seeing a definite uptick) will hand the Florida governor the nomination or maybe even the presidency, but if this poll had any meaning, it would be bad new for him and good news for Trump.

And it gets worse.

This wasn't just an article based on worthless data sliced ridiculously thin wishfully analyzed to get conclusions completely at odds with the actual numbers; this was an influential and widely cited article based on worthless data sliced ridiculously thin wishfully analyzed to get conclusions completely at odds with the actual numbers. It instantly became a fan favorite among political journalists.

The article was published on July 12th and immediately became part of the conventional wisdom. A little less than a month later, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, and the "Republicans are moving on from Trump" voices suddenly grew quieter, as even the highest ranking party members responded with unhinged accusations and threats of retribution. Though the pundits desperately wanted to believe otherwise, they  had to acknowledge that the GOP still belongs to Donald Trump.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

I was shocked -- pleasantly but genuinely shocked to see this housing story in Slate

If you haven't read yesterday's post about Olga Rosario, you ought to give it and the article I cite a look. Her story puts a human face on a major development project, reminds us of the happy endings these homes can provide. 

A couple of hours after we ran our piece, this popped up on Slate.

 I clicked the link ready to be disappointed, but it was not at all what I was expecting.

Consider the dimensions of the current discourse around housing. As homeowners fight off new housing construction in the name of protecting the aesthetics of their neighborhoods and their property values—which, it so happens, upholds long-standing race and class exclusion—the path forward for renters has become the subject of bitter dispute. The YIMBY camp, for “Yes In My Back Yard,” generally argues that upzoning will unleash constrained supply to meet backlogged demand, lowering prices. Other anti-YIMBY groupings contend that upzoning is a stalking horse for gentrification, and that unleashing market forces will only result in more housing for the wealthy and displacement for the poor. This is a simplification of the debate, as there are at least a dozen, if not more, sides to it.

Research generally shows that upzonings, particularly large ones, eventually result in additional housing and reduced rent growth. But the typical effects of upzoning are rather modest, especially in the short term. Because upzonings mostly rely on the private sector to get housing built, even in the most development-friendly locales, like Houston, developers don’t always build enough. In particular, developers overlook homes that are affordable for the low-income people who need it the most; these are less likely to be profitable. And in the absence of rent control, many renters won’t be able to afford private-market units—no matter how many of them are built.

In other words, the case for upzoning is relatively solid but deeply underwhelming as a standalone position. The upshot is that everyone is at least partly right: Upzoning can address the shortfall in supply. But it won’t come close to solving the housing crisis alone. Re-enter: public housing.

I don't necessarily agree with Denvir and Freemark's recommendations. I don't necessarily disagree. These are well argued approaches to complex problems and I'd need time to think about what they're laid out, though I suspect I'll find something to like.

Where I am in full agreement is with the framing. I have slogged my way through endless housing think pieces in Slate, Vox, the New York Times and all the usual suspects and other than this, I can't think of a goddamned one that acknowledged the complexity of the debate or conceded that people on all sides are making valid points.

It is difficult to describe how bad and unprofessional the discourse has been up to this point. What Denvir and Freemark have done should become the new template for these stories. I don't expect that it will, but then, I didn't expect Slate to run something like this.

Monday, May 22, 2023

I'm going to split this post in two so we can all walk away feeling good for a change

Because this is a feel good story.

This is a feel-good story on an individual level. If your heart does not go out to Olga, if you don't feel sad for what the woman went through and if you can't share in her happiness at finally getting some measure of security, comfort, and dignity, then there is something wrong with you.

From KCRW's Anna Scott:


The bathroom in Olga Rosario’s new studio apartment in Sylmar has an entire shelf dedicated to her seashell collection. “I love the beach,” Rosario, 62, says while showing off the place. In the kitchen area, she gestures across the room. “The sink by the window,” she says, “that’s what I’ve always wanted.”

Rosario used to walk by the building where she now lives when it was still under construction.

“Before it was finished, I would always come down San Fernando Road, and I would say, ‘Oh God, just put me over here,’” she says. “And look, I got placed where I was actually wanting to be placed.”

Rosario lives in a brand new, 56-unit apartment building called Silva Crossing, which offers formerly homeless, disabled tenants deeply subsidized rents and supportive services such as on-site counseling. It’s one of 56 buildings funded by Proposition HHH that opened or scheduled to open between the last quarter of 2022 and the end of 2023.


 The view out of Olga's window might look something like this.



It is also a feel-good story on a social/policy level. The County of LA addressed a humanitarian crisis by passing a large tax increase. This initiative is working as planned and is on track to exceed its target of providing ten thousand units for the around fifteen thousand of the LA homeless with mental or physical disabilities, using this money to prime the pump and open up other sources of funding.

The units are specifically for chronically homeless people with mental or physical disabilities – which is a lot of people. Of the nearly 42,000 people experiencing homelessness inside LA city limits by last count, more than a third fit those criteria.

 Despite the urgent need for this housing, Prop HHH was always going to take a long time to come to fruition. The goal from the outset was to help the city create 10,000 new units over 10 years. 


By 2026, housing officials say, the city is on track to open 10,519 new permanent supportive housing units with the help of Prop HHH, a number that also includes 1,635 apartments that didn’t use HHH money.

“It’s hard to defend yourself by saying, ‘It's coming soon, it's coming soon,’ says Sewill of the Housing Department, talking about the criticism of Prop HHH. “I think now we're in a position where we can say, ‘Not only is it happening, it’s more than what we said was going to happen.’”

The reality of HHH is almost entirely good news; the perception... not so much.

From earlier in the article:

More than six years after LA voters passed that $1.2 billion homeless housing bond, LA is finally seeing the fruits of Prop HHH, with more than a dozen buildings scheduled to open every remaining quarter of this year. They also say the measure is on track to not only meet but exceed its goals. 

So why do many people think of Prop HHH as a failure?

We'll get into the details of how self-interested politicians and hack journalists screwed this story up (longtime readers may guess who the worst example is going to be), but that's going to be an angry post and for now I just want to be happy for Olga and her sea shell collection and her window by the sink.


 Update: a couple of hours after we posted this, Slate ran this highly relevant (and very good) article. We'll be coming back to this.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Deferred Thursday Tweets -- prominent journalists bravely steps forward to say their boss is right

Some of Cooper's colleagues aren't following the company line.

And getting back to the NYT.

Checking in with the GOP.

 As Josh Marshall pointed out, the grand old party just had another bad Tuesday.


When you hear predictions that Trump is about to be forced out, remember that a substantial segment of the Republican base feel like this.

An alternate reading of the Gospel of Luke.

In a sense, it's useful to have all of the so far left they're far right crowd on one platform.

The sad part is I think Allen does understand, but his need to show he can criticize both sides drives him to misinform his readers.

So God will know exactly where to drop the meteor.

"Ask" is a bit anthropomorphic, but still a cool clip.

God bless the good ol' boys...

"Those Williams boys, they still mean a lot to me..."

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Checking in on Elon

A bit of context to keep in mind... 

 Elon Musk is a narcissist with explicitly Messianic delusions. He often talks about his love of humanity using those very words and constantly frames himself as its savior. Like most narcissists, Musk is easily manipulated and tends to define good and evil in terms of how things affect him.

This wasn't as much of a problem when his followers tended to be mainly space fans and well-meaning but ill informed people who saw him as an environmental hero, though even then there was a substantial gamergate adjacent faction there. Now, though, he has almost completely surrounded himself with alt-right sycophants who are skillfully playing to his worst instincts.

Musk has also started amplifying neo-nazi conspiracy theories.

And white grievance in general.

While the people around him are certainly having an influence, the man did come into this primed for a right-wing message. Tesla has been sued for racial harassment. Musk personally has been sued for sexual harassment, and we won't even get into the creepy borderline eugenics stuff. The signs have been there for a long time.

We'll leave the last word to Inigo Montoya.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

What the experts used to say about streaming -- part 2

Picking up where we left off,

Reports of the death of the advertising model may have been premature

Ten years ago the standard narrative had fully embraced the idea of a single revenue stream future with that one stream being subscriptions. Not only was the possibility of alternate TV models dismissed, but we also saw a spillover into other industries. Suddenly everything from cars to Lego were going to be subscription based.

This was in sharp contrast to the existing model where companies made money from subscriptions, advertising, ticket sales, marketing, and syndication. Under the Netflix model, everyone paid a monthly fee and in exchange got a super bundle of every show Netflix was currently licensing, all available for viewing on demand. (Somewhat ironically, advocates of the future of streaming at the time would often point to bundles as a reason that cable was inferior despite the fact that Netflix had taken the concept even further.)

About six or seven years ago, people in or close to the industry started noticing that while actually turning a profit with streaming was proving difficult, some of the best numbers were coming out of partially or wholly ad supported divisions. Companies like Amazon, Fox, and Paramount launched standalone ad supported services. Subscription-based services like HBO Max moved toward adding commercials. Even Netflix started backing away from the model. This trend was obvious years before any national journalist picked up on it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Electric vehicles

This is Joseph.

Noah Smith wrote a techno-optimist take on Electric Vehicles (EVs). It ended on a strong note:
Anyway, these are the main arguments I see against the EV transition, and as far as I can tell, they all clearly miss the mark. (There’s also the question of whether we can build enough transmission lines to charge our EVs, but in fact I’m not worried about this; if anything, widespread EV ownership will create more political will to build the transmission lines we need anyway.) The EV revolution is simply a clear-cut case where the human race invented a better technology than what we were using before, and now we’re going to switch to that better technology. Electric vehicles are going to win; just sit back and watch.

Now there are some secondary issues here, like does the heavier weight of an EV make it more dangerous. Which led to this exchange:

 I am not going to overly weigh in here, except to note that assumptions like "brakes will be stronger" are not always as true as we'd like and that EVs typically accelerate faster, which can be a big deal in pedestrian dense areas. 

Far more on point was Lyman Stone's report of renting a Tesla for a work trip. Practical experience backed up all of the limitations of the car for these operations. Charging (even supercharging) is vastly more time consuming than fueling. Range is lowest for highway driving. The need for a dense charging infrastructure becomes clear and while supercharging seems to have only a modest effect on battery life, it also doesn't seem to be zero. When battery replacement can be up to $20,000 (Tesla Model S) this is not a trivial consideration.

Lyman's key point (at least for EVs in general, he also has issues with Tesla controls) is:

It really does seem to be an hour:

Superchargers can recharge a vehicle’s battery up to 80% in just about 40 minutes. After the battery reaches 80%, it will begin to charge slower to protect the battery’s health until it reaches a full charge. 

That suggests full charge is likely to take an hour. You also have range degradation as the battery degrades. Without supercharging the same resource suggests a charging time between 9.9 hours and 3.4 days (yes, that is DAYS) for an empty battery. If the car is driven a short distance and then is recharged overnight then that is probably ok.  But no long distance trip could put up with that level of time. This also presumes that your company doesn't throttle your range to sell upgrades, but who would do that? 

I think this is a rare case of our blog lagging opinion, but it seems clear that the best use of the EV is for as a solution for short range trips with known equipment on both ends. I am even more bullish about e-bikes for a lot of the warmer parts of the United States, making it possible to combine light exercise with short distance transit. But you know what has none of these problems and dramatically reduces emissions compared to traditional internal combustion engines? A Prius


 [Ed Niedermeyer is probably the leading journalist on the Tesla/EV beat. He's been pushing a much more constraint-conscious approach than Smith does. For a sense of where he;s coming from, I'd recommend this guest op-ed from the NYT: "We Can’t Just Throw Bigger Batteries at Electric Vehicles" (and you know how it pains me to link to anything from that paper). -- MP]



Monday, May 15, 2023

Today in free speech heroes

This is Joseph.

This exchange was amazing:

The answer if you are into free speech is actually obvious enough that everyone is getting it. A specific intervention to appease one political party is precisely the type of media bias that free speech advocates are most worried about. It's not a big deal if the media has a known authorial voice (think Fox News) but it looks bad if that is from a supposedly neutral platform that is supposed to allow engagement. 

I am not saying that this move is the end of Twitter or anything, but it increasingly looks like the owner has a specific viewpoint agenda. Which is sad, because I find the extremely dense information exchange of Twitter to be its biggest asset and, without that, I lose a lot of the value it brings to me. 

Even more interesting, the last time this exact politician tried this they discovered that Twitter was completely uncooperative. Josh Marshall has a good summary here

Friday, May 12, 2023

Weekend viewing -- VICE News Presents: Cult of Elon

If you're interested in Elon Musk as a cultural phenomenon (and if you're not and you're a regular reader, we've wasted a lot of your time), you'll want to take a look at this documentary, available for free on the ad-supported service Tubi.*

It mainly consists of intercut clips of fans and critics talking to the camera. Though you can probably guess which side I tend to agree with, the fan interviews provide a useful glimpse into why the bond between Musk and his followers is so strong.

* Tubi will be showing up prominently in future installments of our business of streaming thread.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Thusday Tweets -- today's word is "Omphaloskepsis"

Those who follow this sort of thing will remember that Sullivan did a stint as NYT public editor. She was great, but the paper didn't listen to a damned thing she said, which was a great loss for them and for us.


You'll have to take my work on this but when I first saw this Elizabeth vs. Liz Holmes, I also thought about a rehabilitation piece on Manson, though I have to admit pitchbot did it better than I would have.


Let's check in on Elon.

Perhaps Tucker thought the best way to bond with Musk was to lie about a business agreement.

The culture wars have reached the point where far right advocates are desperate for something to be offended about.

"None of the counter-protestors the Post spoke to seemed to have attended SM North or had children attend the school, but one man said he pays taxes to the school district."

I've been meaning to do a post on how self-interest no longer explains the actions of these people.

I know we said we were going to lay off Ron for a while, but how often do we get to do a monorail tweet?

As we said before, the biggest political impact of Dobbs lies in the secondary and tertiary effects.

Church of Christ without Christ

Wiki -- Bryan Lee Slaton is a former pastor and American politician. Slaton represented the 2nd District in the Texas House of Representatives from 2021 to 2023.


One of the reasons I think we need more Christians in politics (actual Christians).

Russian stooges are back in the news. It's a retro thing, you know, like vinyl.

This one from our friends at the PayPal mafia.

Apparently, Robin Hanson is still a thing. I hadn't heard from him for a while and I'd assumed he was just a frozen head by this point.


Back on the Sparta debunking beat.

I did some research and this checks out.
This is really bad.

Let's stop by and visit with Grady.

TBH, this is really cool (assuming we can count on the quality).