Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Live at the Witch Trials
According to the WSJ, there's something rotten in Oklahomee (the article is gated but reproduced in part here). Three members of a group leading a signature drive to get a TABOR (tax payers bill of rights) proposition on the ballot are in legal trouble. The group used non-residents to collect signatures which is illegal in Oklahoma and the signatures collected were tossed out in court on that grounds. In what does appear to be an egregious case of piling on, the three leaders of the initiative drive have been indicted for employing the out of state signature collectors.
What's incredibly wacky though is the WSJ's insistence that it's all a liberal plot: "Like many other ambitious AGs, Mr. Edmondson (the indicter) has his eye on higher office, and indicting TABOR supporters will win him friends among the unions and liberal interest groups that can sway a fight for the democratic nomination."
Friends, either the WSJ thinks Oklahoma AG Drew Edmondson is on the verge of running for president, or they've never actually been to, or read anything about, Oklahoma, or they are again pulling their biased, ideologically driven, logic-free nonsense.
Unions & Liberal Interest groups? In Oklahoma? The average rate of union membership across the US states is around 12%. In Oklahoma it's around 5%. Oklahoma passed a right to work law in 2001. Oklahoma voted for the Shrub over Kerry 66% to 34%, almost 2 to 1. And don't even get me started on our congressional delegation. Plus, Drew Edmondson actually literally is an "Okie from Musgokee". People, you can't get more conservative than that.
Bottom line: While I agree that indicting the initiative organizers is pretty extreme on the face of it, I am pretty sure that it's not being done to pander to unions and liberal interest groups.
More likely it's just another manifestation of good old Okie xenophobia.
Harry Cipriani: You....You're not good
A savage, savage restaurant review from the NYT.
OVER the years the Cipriani restaurant family and its employees have faced charges of sexual harassment, insurance fraud and tax evasion, the last leading to guilty pleas by two family members in July.
But the crime that comes to mind first when I think of the Ciprianis is highway robbery. Based on my recent experience, that’s what happens almost any time Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue serves lunch or dinner.
In this gleaming room in the Sherry-Netherland hotel, the Ciprianis charge $22.95 for asparagus vinaigrette — 12 medium-size spears, neither white, truffle-flecked nor even Parmesan-bedecked — and $34.95 for an appetizer of fried calamari. That’s at dinnertime, I should clarify. At lunch there’s a whopping $1 discount per dish.
A dinner entree of fritto misto costs $48.95, even though it amounted to an extra-large portion of fried calamari with a few decorative shrimp and token scallops strewn, to negligible effect, among the generic calamari rings.
I assure you of the accuracy of those numbers, and of these: $66.95 for a sirloin, $36.95 for lasagna, $18.95 for minestrone. It’s tempting to devote the rest of this review to a price list. Nothing else I can present is nearly as compelling.
Besides, prices are the point of Harry Cipriani, which exists to affirm its patrons’ ability to throw away money.
It’s the epitome of a restaurant whose steep tariffs justify themselves, subbing for membership dues and assuring that the spouse, in-law, client or canine psychic being treated to a $16.95 piece of chocolate cake will be impressed.
Regulars accept and revel in this, or have bit by bit deluded themselves into believing that the $36.95 spaghetti with tomato and basil has something special to recommend it. (Trust me: it doesn’t.)
(Nod to Mr. Overwater)
NYT Piece on Tenure and Adjunctery
University officials agree that the use of nontraditional faculty is soaring. But some contest the professors association’s calculation, saying that definitions of part-time and full-time professors vary, and that it is not possible to determine how many courses, on average, each category of professor actually teaches.
Many state university presidents say tight budgets have made it inevitable that they turn to adjuncts to save money.
“We have to contend with increasing public demands for accountability, increased financial scrutiny and declining state support,” said Charles F. Harrington, provost of the University of North Carolina, Pembroke. “One of the easiest, most convenient ways of dealing with these pressures is using part-time faculty,” he said, though he cautioned that colleges that rely too heavily on such faculty “are playing a really dangerous game.”
Mark B. Rosenberg, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, said that part-timers can provide real-world experience to students and fill gaps in nursing, math, accounting and other disciplines with a shortage of qualified faculty. He also said the shift could come with costs.
Adjuncts are less likely to have doctoral degrees, educators say. They also have less time to meet with students, and research suggests that students who take many courses with them are somewhat less likely to graduate.
(Nod t Anonyman)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Hugo: Porque no te callas?
An interview, in which I talk for 40 minutes to the nicest guy in the world.
What could be better than that? For me, at least.
Actually, this interview did go pretty well, I thought.
But then, I would think that.
Matt Ridley and the Bank
Is Dracula in charge of the Blood bank now?
Both the FT and Mark Thoma have noted the apparent disconnect between Fed personnel pronouncements and the expectations/desires of "the markets" regarding next month's Fed funds rate decision.
The FT puts it this way: Fed and markets set to clash on rates
Thoma puts it this way: Fed Watch: Headed For Another Game of Chicken?
Basically, Fed guys are talking up inflation risks, saying that an economic slowdown is inevitable, and implying or flat out saying not to expect a rate cut, while at the same time that the markets appear to have priced a rate cut as 80% likely.
It also appears that Randy Kroszner, Fed governor and smartest guy in any room I've ever been in, may be caught in the middle. The same day that he gave a "rate cut unlikely" speech, Senate Banking committee chair Chris Dodd announced that was thinking about scuppering the vote on Kroszner's re-nomination to a new term at the Fed.
So "market" and political pressure is turned up on Bernanke and crew. Regardless of the merits (and I don't think another cut is advisable on the merits) I just don't see how they can afford to cut rates again in December in this atmosphere, but maybe they are thinking that they can't afford not to. It has been argued that the Fed has kept its vaunted independence by not really exercising it too often or too vigorously.
PS: someone told me that Dodd was running for president, but that can't be true. I would have heard SOMETHING about it by now, wouldn't I? He would have been in the debates, wouldn't he? How do rumors like this get started?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Take a life to Save a Life?
“Capital punishment may well save lives. Those who object to capital punishment, and who do so in the name of protecting life, must come to terms with the possibility that the failure to inflict capital punishment will fail to protect life.”
So say Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule in their 2005 Stanford Law Review article, as quoted in today's NY Times on the new consensus about the deterrent effect of the death penalty.
I am not comfortable with instrumental arguments in favor of the death penalty, and while several researchers cited say they are against the death penalty but..., others do seem to be making exactly such an argument (eg Sustein and Vermeule). There are a LOT of things we as a society could do to deter crime (public shaming, putting people in stocks, flogging) that we do not do that are far less extreme than execution. Giving a government the power to kill its own citizens is not something I favor no matter how lovely one particular side effect may be.
ps. as an example of why we economists are not really welcome in polite circles, consider Justin Wolfers' answer to the question of whether or not it is conceptually possible to determine if the death penalty has a deterrent effect (Wolfers is skeptical of the existing studies due to limitations of the data):
Professor Wolfers said the answer to the question of whether the death penalty deterred was “not unknowable in the abstract,” given enough data.
“If I was allowed 1,000 executions and 1,000 exonerations, and I was allowed to do it in a random, focused way,” he said, “I could probably give you an answer.”ummm, ok Justin, thanks. We'll have to get back to you on that. In the meantime, why not write it up as an NSF proposal?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
CRANK DAT SOULJA BOY - AFRICAN REMIX!!!
MIA collaborator Afrikan Boy tosses out this excellent remix of Soulja Boy. Very very nice!
Isiah Deathwatch Update
Earlier this week we reported on Isiah and the Knicks continued woes. Now Marbury has returned to the team and is playing despite the other players' unanimous vote to have him not return and play.
In his first game back, Starbury shot 4-12 with no rebounds and 4 assists in 33 minutes.
Currently the Knicks are 2-6, on a 5 game losing streak and the laughingstock of the L. According to Peter Vecsey, James Dolan has flown to the west coast and Zeke could be fired at any minute. Marbury of course can't be fired, only traded, bought out of his contract, or left on the court to continue to "lead" the Knicks.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Roach Bot, Roach Bot, Whatcha Gonna Do? Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come for YOU!?
Roach Bots ride.
(nod to MAG)
I DID! I DID! I DID Shoot Dat Puddy Tatt
"Jurors heard opening arguments on Tuesday in the trial of a bird-watching
enthusiast who fatally shot a cat that he said was stalking endangered
shorebirds. The defendant, James M. Stevenson, is the founder of the
Galveston Ornithological Society and leads bird-watching tours on this Gulf
Coast island 60 miles southeast of Houston. If convicted on animal cruelty
charges in the shooting last November, he faces up to two years in jail and
a $10,000 fine...In her opening statement, Paige L. Santell, a Galveston
County assistant district attorney, told the jury of eight women and four
men that Mr. Stevenson 'shot that animal in cold blood' and that the cat
died a slow and painful death 'gurgling on its own blood.'...Testimony
followed from police officers and the veterinarian who performed the autopsy
on Mama Cat, a white and gray tabby mix. The jurors were shown several
photographs of the bloodied cat, reminiscent of an episode of 'CSI:
Miami.'...The prosecution and defense wrangled repeatedly about whether
witnesses could accurately assess the cat's state of mind. 'He's not
qualified to know what the cat was feeling,' said Mr. Nelson, when a police
officer, John P. Bertolino Sr., testified that the cat was in terrible pain
when he arrived at the crime scene. The cat died en route to a Humane
Society facility." [NYT]
Has it really come to this?
In today's WSJ, Robert Frank and his Wealth Report breaks down the water bills of rich people in Palm Beach FL. Really. Some dude has a 14 acre lot and used 21 million gallons last year while the average use for a single family home is 54,000 gallons per year. Don't he know there's a drought? The pig! The swine! The bastard!
Oh, but it turns out that (a) he's reduced his water use over last year by 4 million gallons, (b) is abiding by all the municipal rules governing water use, and (c) is paying a 30% surcharge on usage above 6000 gallons per month.
This is some top flight muckracking journalism here. Looking up rich people's water bills. Oh yeah, Jimmy Buffett got fined $100 for "unspecified water violations". String his sorry butt up.
I say let's appoint R. Frank water czar and have him personally allocate water to every person in the country. Say, should illegal aliens be allowed to drink any of our water at all? Mr. Frank??
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sermon on the (Food) Mount: The BeFATitudes
Body Composition and Wages, Roy Wada & Erdal Tekin, NBER Working Paper, November 2007
This paper examines the effect of body composition on wages. We develop measures of body composition - body fat (BF) and fat-free mass (FFM) - using data on bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) that are available in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and estimate wage models for respondents in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Our results indicate that increased body fat is unambiguously associated with decreased wages for both males and females. This result is in contrast to the mixed and sometimes inconsistent results from the previous research using body mass index (BMI). We also find new evidence indicating that a higher level of fat-free body mass is consistently associated with increased hourly wages. We present further evidence that these results are not the artifacts of unobserved heterogeneity. Our findings are robust to numerous specification checks and to a large number of alternative BIA prediction equations from which the body composition measures are derived. Our work addresses an important limitation of the current literature on the economics of obesity. Previous research relied on body weight or BMI for measuring obesity despite the growing agreement in the medical literature that they represent misleading measures of obesity because of their inability to distinguish between body fat and fat-free body mass. Body composition measures used in this paper represent significant improvements over the previously used measures because they allow for the effects of fat and fat free components of body composition to be separately identified. Our work also contributes to the growing literature on the role of non-cognitive characteristics on wage determination.
Be explained by THIS:
Personality traits and eating behavior in the obese: Poor self-control in
emotional and external eating but personality assets in restrained eating
Kristina Elfhag & Lesley Morey, Eating Behaviors, forthcoming
Personality traits can give a fuller understanding for eating behaviors in obesity. The objective was to describe eating behavior (Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire) in terms of the Big Five personality traits (NEO Personality Inventory - Revised) in obesity patients (n=442). Emotional eating was strongly positively associated to Neuroticism, in particular impulsiveness and depression, and further linked to lower Conscientiousness mainly seen in lower self-discipline, and lower Extraversion. External eating was likewise mainly associated to the facets impulsiveness and lower self-discipline. Restrained eating was on the other hand related to higher Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Openness, and lower Neuroticism. These results imply that poor self-control seen in impulsiveness and lower self-discipline was most important for eating due to negative emotions as well as in response to external food stimuli, suggesting that the inhibition of eating and difficulties to govern ones behavior are major aspects of these eating behaviors. Attempts to control food intake and body weight seen in restrained eating were associated with more character strengths and ambitions, and also a more outgoing personality style with more stable emotions.
(Nod to KL, who is always restrained, even if it costs him extra at the Mustang Ranch)
Karma comes a'calling!
I eat Doritos 'cause they're good for the Environment
Did you know that Toyota has reduced the energy required to manufacture one of its vehicles by more than 24% in the last 5 years? Or that Frito-Lay has reduced its water use by 38 percent, natural gas by 27 percent and electricity by 21 percent since 1999 for a savings of $55 million a year in utility bills? Me neither. The best part of this info though is that I found it in the NY Times!
The article mainly discusses how Frito Lay is trying a test case of taking one of its chip plants "almost completely off the grid", via gray water recovery, solar power, and using left over chip sludge to create methane (though I'm pretty sure Mungowitz has already perfected and patented that process)!
But I am left wondering whether Toyota and Frito Lay are ahead of the curve and such large savings are still on the table for a lot of other companies (which would be good), or whether their cases are typical and there isn't much room left for energy efficiency gains while retaining the same basic infrastructures and production methods (which might be bad)?
Anybody know? Bueller?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
China is a lot poorer than we thought
So says Albert Kiedel of the Carnegie Endowment in the FT:
...The Asian Development Bank presented official survey results indicating China's economy is smaller and poorer than established estimates say. The announcement cited the first authoritative measure of China's size using purchasing power parity methods. The results tell us that when the World Bank announces its expected PPP data revisions later this year, China's economy will turn out to be 40 per cent smaller than previously stated......The number of people in China living below the World Bank's dollar-a-day poverty line is 300m - three times larger than currently estimated.
Why such a large revision in the estimates of China's economic condition? Until recently, China had never participated in the careful price surveys needed to convert accurately its gross domestic product into PPP dollars. The World Bank's estimates based on summary data from the late 1980s probably overstated China's PPP gross domestic product even then. Up to now, the bank has revised its estimate very little. In the meantime, China has repeatedly raised the prices of food, housing, healthcare and a range of other non-traded goods and services. These reforms should have lowered the PPP adjustment, but the bank left it basically unchanged.
These PPP adjustments affect poverty measures because the World Bank's dollar-a-day poverty line is a PPP dollar poverty line. Reducing PPP consumption estimates drops large numbers of additional households below the poverty line.
For China, the correction needs to be made back to the 1980s and 1990s, when instead of World Bank estimates of roughly 300m people below the dollar-a-day poverty line, the number was more likely more than 500m. China has made enormous strides in lifting its population out of poverty - but the task was perhaps more gargantuan than most people thought and progress has been overstated by bank estimates.Hat Tip to Jonathan Dingell
Labels: economic growth
This is a good one people. As you may remember, I predicted the Heat would go winless 'til D-Wade came back, but Sunday they beat the Knicks in the Ga-den 75-72 (no, the fourth quarter was not canceled).
Even Isiah realized that was unacceptable and he chose one Stephon Marbury Esq. to blame. By Tuesday, it was leaking to the NY papers that the Knickerbockers wanted to reduce Steph's role or better yet deal him (good luck with that given (a) his play and (b) his contract).
Then we get word that Starbury has left the team "with permission".
Then the rumor mill pipes up that he and Zeke threw down on the team's charter flight to Phoenix. The upshot is that Steph missed the Suns game and was fined 1/110 of his salary as per league rules (around $182,000).
Then Starbury is quoted as saying: "Isiah has to start me," Marbury fumed, according to the Daily New source. "I've got so much (stuff) on Isiah and he knows it. He thinks he can (get) me. But I'll (get) him first. You have no idea what I know."
So I guess that Steph's quotes are why there was a physical altercation and I also guess that what came out at Zeke's sexual harassment trial was only the tip of the proverbial iceburg.
There may be teams with worse records than the Knicks, but none in worse shape or with a dimmer future. One the one hand, it makes me sad 'cause I loved the Knicks when I was a little kid, especially Earl Monroe. On the other hand, Isiah is not exactly a sympathetic character, is he?
Looks like our pal Karma is making house calls.
Hat Tip to Mrs. Angus
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Never Too Late to Hate....WalMart!
A story about discrimination.
Women get bad service at coffee shops.
And why doesn't competition yield coffee shops that provide better service?
(Nod to Anonyman, who if anything services women too quickly)
Japan is actually growing again
Japan is climbing out of the pit.
And "the pit" is where a 90%+ drop in real estate values will put you.
Does this sound like California, if you change a few words?
Prices were highest in Tokyo's Ginza district in 1989, with some fetching over US$1.5 million per square meter ($139,000 per square foot), and only slightly less in other areas of Tokyo. By 2004, prime "A" property in Tokyo's financial districts were less than 1/100th of their peak, and Tokyo's residential homes were 1/10th of their peak, but still managed to be listed as the most expensive real estate in the world. Some US$20 trillion (1999 dollars) was wiped out with the combined collapse of the real estate market and the Tokyo stock market. (WP)
Please Join my World Bank Re-Location Campaign!!
The managing operations director of the World Bank just flew in from Bhutan. He sez we all could learn a lot from and should even emulate Bhutan. Why is Bhutan so sexy? Well they don't want to talk about GNP but rather GNH (gross national happiness). AAARGH. Bhutan ranks very near the bottom of the HDI (human development index) which is an attempt at a not completely GDP based development metric (it uses GDP, Life expectancy and Literacy). Bhutan came in 135th in 2004.
So, the World Bank, failed promoter of development and progress, is now offering up Bhutan "one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world" as a model.
Poverty: if you can't beat it, endorse it!
People let's all get together and take up a collection and move them Bankocrats! From DC to Thimpu. I know that would increase our GNH!!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Man, I wasted my High School Years!
At least compared to Jovana Sarver who made this cool video to one of my favorite Joanna Newsom songs while a high school student in Harrisburg PA.
This is real real good.
Labels: The Arts
Are You a Dem, a Repub, or a Texan?
Are you a Democrat, Republican or Texan? Here is a little test that
will help you decide. The answer can be found by posing the following
You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you. You are carrying a Glock cal 40, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?
Well, that's not enough information to answer the question! Does the man look poor! Or oppressed?
Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack? Could we run away?
What does my wife think? What about the kids? What does the law say about this situation?
Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
Should I call 9-1-1? Why is this street so deserted?
We need to raise taxes, have paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Click..... (Sounds of reloading)
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips
or Hollow Points?
Son: Can I shoot the next one!
Wife: You Ain't Taking That To The Taxidermist!
(From the internet, many places)
Markets in Everything?
Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado I give you The Islamic Car!!!!
Malaysian automaker Proton plans to team up with companies in Iran and Turkey to produce "Islamic cars" for the global market, a news report said Sunday.
Proposed by Iran, the collaboration would include installing features in automobiles such as a compass to determine the direction of Mecca for prayers, and compartments for storing the Quran and headscarves, Proton's Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin told national news agency Bernama."What they (Iran) want to do is to call that an Islamic car," he was quoted as saying while on a visit in Iran. "The car will have all the Islamic features and should be meant for export purposes. We will identify a car that we can develop to be produced in Malaysia, Iran or Turkey."
So let me get this straight: a compass and a glove compartment makes it an Islamic Car? Holy Crap. My baptist grandad would be spinnin' in his grave if he knew that he drove Islamic cars for 40 years!! He even had an Islamic RV!
Labels: people and places
Real v. Nominal prices and "all time" records
It is commonly asserted that gold is at or near its previous all time high set in 1980. But lost in these statements is the fact that despite our lionization of P. Volcker and A. Greenspan, the general price level has risen a lot in the last 27 years. Any inter-temporal comparison thus needs to be done in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) terms.
Melanie Burton provides such an accounting in today's WSJ (not the editorial page so it has > 50% chance of being factually accurate). The article is gated, but the free preview makes the point:
Gold made headlines last week by flirting with its 1980 peak price, but the precious metal remains far short of its inflation-adjusted record -- and probably won't see it soon.
On Friday, gold traded in the cash market at $831.50 a troy ounce, nearing the $850-an-ounce record that 27 years ago was briefly touched (too briefly to be captured by the monthly chart at right). Adjusted for inflation, the 1980 price translates to $2,250 now.
Serf 'n Turf
College football is big money. In 2005 the big boys generated 1.8 billion in revenues with several schools (Notre Dame, Texas, & Ohio State) racking up over 50 million each.
Other sports (non-revenue) are subsidized. Coaches make big money, school endowments swell. But the guys getting their heads bashed in all fall make nothing. Squadoosh!
I don't like it (even though my school is a football factory) and Michael Lewis (Moneyball author), doesn't like it either, as you can read here in his NY Times piece. Here's an excerpt:
College football’s best trick play is its pretense that it has nothing to do with money, that it’s simply an extension of the university’s mission to educate its students. Were the public to view college football as mainly a business, it might start asking questions. For instance: why are these enterprises that have nothing to do with education and everything to do with profits exempt from paying taxes? Or why don’t they pay their employees?
This is maybe the oddest aspect of the college football business. Everyone associated with it is getting rich except the people whose labor creates the value. At this moment there are thousands of big-time college football players, many of whom are black and poor. They perform for the intense pleasure of millions of rabid college football fans, many of whom are rich and white. The world’s most enthusiastic racially integrated marketplace is waiting to happen.
But between buyer and seller sits the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to ensure that the universities it polices keep all the money for themselves — to make sure that the rich white folk do not slip so much as a free chicken sandwich under the table to the poor black kids. The poor black kids put up with it because they find it all but impossible to pursue N.F.L. careers unless they play at least three years in college. Less than one percent actually sign professional football contracts and, of those, an infinitesimal fraction ever make serious money. But their hope is eternal, and their ignorance exploitable.
Put that way the arrangement sounds like simple theft; but up close, inside the university, it apparently feels like high principle. That principle, as stated by the N.C.A.A., is that college sports should never be commercialized. But it’s too late for that. College football already is commercialized, for everyone except the people who play it. Were they businesses, several dozen of America’s best-known universities would be snapped up by private equity tycoons, who would spin off just about everything but the football team. (The fraternities they might keep.)
The bottom line is this: Big time college athletes need to be paid. It's way, way, way, past time for that to happen
Sunday, November 11, 2007
What Were the Chances the South Would Win?
Victory or Repudiation? The Probability of the Southern Confederacy Winning
the Civil War
Marc Weidenmier & Kim Oosterlinck
NBER Working Paper, November 2007
Historians have long wondered whether the Southern Confederacy had a
realistic chance at winning the American Civil War. We provide some
quantitative evidence on this question by introducing a new methodology for
estimating the probability of winning a civil war or revolution based on
decisions in financial markets. Using a unique dataset of Confederate gold
bonds in Amsterdam, we apply this methodology to estimate the probability of
a Southern victory from the summer of 1863 until the end of the war. Our
results suggest that European investors gave the Confederacy approximately a
42 percent chance of victory prior to the battle of Gettysburg/Vicksburg.
News of the severity of the two rebel defeats led to a sell-off in
Confederate bonds. By the end of 1863, the probability of a Southern victory
fell to about 15 percent. Confederate victory prospects generally decreased
for the remainder of the war. The analysis also suggests that McClellan's
possible election as U.S. President on a peace party platform as well as
Confederate military victories in 1864 did little to reverse the market's
assessment that the South would probably lose the Civil War.
This use of financial markets data is far too rare in political science, and history.
The Old "Randomize Your Choices" Doge
Old doges can teach modern political scientists new tricks, according to a
paper by two computer scientists who analyzed the long and cumbersome - but
ultimately very effective - means by which the Venetian Republic elected its
sovereign-for-life. From 1268 to the fall of the republic, in 1797, Venice's
council of oligarchs took 10 rounds to choose each doge, with the first nine
rounds determining the electors for the next round and the final round
picking a winner. Five of the first eight rounds were decided not by
election but by the drawing of lots. This injection of randomness into the
process, the authors argue, conferred considerable advantages over
proportional-representation or simple-majority systems, and may explain the
republic's great durability. The element of uncertainty forced electors to
weigh minority opinions with special care; it also encouraged compromise and
guarded against corruption. Moreover, by accepting an arduous selection
process (which in the days before probability theory must have seemed highly
arbitrary), Venice's oligarchs demonstrated to the people their collective
commitment to the republic. [Atlantic Monthly]
The actual paper, which is quite interesting.
(Nod to KL)
The Filter Strikes Back.
Now, if they would just make a "stupid filter" for faculty meetings.
(Nod to KL)
The Great Debate
Over at MR, an ebullient Tyler reports that he and resident CATO pretty boy Will Wilkinson opened up a big can of whoopass on Jeff Sachs and Betsey Stevenson last night in NYC.
I don't doubt the outcome, but I must confess to not understanding the debate at all. The proposition in question was: "America is failing at the pursuit of happiness". I can understand debating whether Americans are ACHIEVING happiness, but I can't see how anyone might deny that we are PURSUING it with all our might.
I also can't accept the implicit notion that it's the government's responsibility to make people happy. Hey Congress: really want to make me happy?? DISBAND!
Finally (if anyone is still with me at this point in the proceedings), if you feel that maximizing human happiness is extremely important but you personally are failing at achieving happiness, let me inform you that Mrs. Angus and I are fiendishly effective at turning $$ into happiness.
As a public service, and taking a page from the brilliant Cat and Girl concept, send us your contribution and we will describe exactly what we did with the dough and how happy it made us.
Really. No need to thank us, we live to serve.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Cállate la boca!!
Here is a verbatim translated text of the Ibero-American Summit:
"Yeah well so's your Mom!!"
It seems that Hugo Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Aznar a "facist"
Then current Spanish Prime minister Zapatero (literally, shoemaker) criticized Chavez for being disrespectful.
Then Chavez interrupted Zapatero's remarks.
Then Juan Charlie, King of Spain (KING I say!!!) starting yelling at Chavez to shut up and pointing his finger at him.
Socialist Solidarity indeed!!
You can read more about it here.
Leijonhufvud takes on Inflation Targeting
Monetary Economist Axel Leijonhufvud (who wrote one of the funniest pieces about economics ever) is not enthralled with inflation targeting. Here is a tidbit:
With the demise of Monetarism, more and more central banks around the world have come to adopt a policy strategy known as inflation targeting. This is the case, for example, with the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Swedish Riksbank. The Central Bank of New Zealand was a pioneer in committing itself publicly to this policy. Some other important
central banks, such as the Federal Reserve System of the United States and the Bank of Japan, have not officially declared inflation targeting as their strategy, but they have behaved as if it were, and the markets have believed that to be the case. Many influential advocates of this policy have argued that keeping the inflation rate very low and maintaining it within a very narrow band of variation should bea central bank's exclusive goal. If it is known that this is the Bank's exclusive objective, its policies will be transparent and, the proponents believe, as long as the markets understand clearly what the monetary policy is, they will take care of other matters, such as unemployment, as well as can be. If, on the other hand, the central bank from time to time trades off unemployment versus inflation, or one of the two versus the exchange rate, the private sector will not be certain what is going on and this will lead to various mistakes and inefficiencies. I have a number of reservations concerning this fashionable policy doctrine. In particular, I maintain that stabilising the consumer price index (or its rate of growth) does not guarantee stability of the financial system. Moreover, under certain conditions, concentrating on year-to-year monetary stability, in the sense of keeping to a CPI inflation target, can lead you to follow policies that are inimical to financial stability over the longer run.
Labels: economic policy
Friday, November 09, 2007
All Roads lead to Crawford
This is what makes blogging so great. Alex over at MR posts about Cheatneutral, a "company" that provides infidelity offsets (that is actually a satire of carbon offsets). Then a bunch of his commenters go crazy complaining that carbon offsets are not a joke. I, thinking they are a joke, google the phrase "Al Gore Carbon Offset Fraud" and then in the muck and the mire I find this old but fascinating (to me anyway) information:
The 4,000-square-foot house is a model of environmental rectitude.
Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this "eco-friendly" dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.
A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.
No, this is not the home of some eccentrically wealthy eco-freak trying to shame his fellow citizens into following the pristineness of his self-righteous example. And no, it is not the wilderness retreat of the Sierra Club or the Natural Resources Defense Council, a haven where tree-huggers plot political strategy.
This is President George W. Bush's "Texas White House" outside the small town of Crawford.
Holy Crap! Maybe Al can buy the carbon offsets he needs for his oversized, 20 room, $30k annually in electricity and gas bills, home from the SHRUB!!!
Heat - Dolphin Deathmatch: Who will win first?
The NBA roll of shame is still long: Seattle, Golden State, Miami, Washington, and Minnesota. In the NFL, the wannabes have dropped away and the winless now include only Miami and St. Louis. Alone atop the confluence of these rosters of woe stands the city of Miami like a colossus! Congratulations to Miamians for living in the worst sports city in America right now.
Our question though, is which hapless Miami franchise will get a W first? Sunday, the Dolphins play the 4-4 Bills at home. That's gotta be a tossup at worst. The Heat play the Suns at home Friday (I'm penciling in an L) and travel to the Garden to play the Knicks Sunday (ditto).
The bottom line for the Heat may well be that until D-Wade walks through the door, they aren't going to win a single game. Shaq is averaging 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 turnovers and doesn't really look very Shaqlike so far at least. Aside from Haslem, the rest of their roster is a horror show. Jason Williams shooting 34%? Penny Hardaway playing 18 minutes a night? Smush Parker shooting 28%? Daequan Cook? Dorrell Wright? Ricky "shoot at my own basket to make a fake triple double" Davis? Say it ain't so Pat Riley.
Given that Wade is practicing now, I'd say that the Dolphins must win Sunday or else it will turn out to be the Heat that gets the city of Miami off the sporting schneid. Either way, it's going to be a long, long, warm and humid winter in Miami.
Labels: The Arts
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Rep. Ron Paul at today's JEC meeting with Bernanke
The best way I could describe the problems that we face here in this country, as well as the problem the Federal Reserve faces, is that we are indeed between a rock and a hard place because we have a serious problem but we don't talk about how we got here. We talk about how we're going to "patch it up". The bubble has been burst - we saw what happened after the Nasdaq bubble burst and we don't ask how it was created and then we had a housing bubble and it's deflating and it's spreading.
Yet nobody says, "Where does it come from?" and what is the advice that you generally get? Inflate the currency. They don't say "inflate the currency", they don't say "debase the currency", they don't say "devalue the currency", they don't say "cheat the people who have saved", they say "lower the interest rates". But they never ask you and I never hear you say, "the only way I can lower interest rates is I have to create more money".
Unless we get down to the bottom of it and define what inflation is and not look at only prices... this was taught by the free market economists all through the 20th century, they said, "Beware, they will increase the money supply but they will make you concentrate on prices and they will give you CPIs and PPIs and they'll fudge those figures and they'll talk about wage and price controls to solve our problems".
We ignore the fundamental flaw and that is that not only have we had a subprime market in housing, the whole economic system is subprime in that we have artificially low interest rates. And it wasn't under your tenure in office - it's been going on for ten years or longer and now we're bearing the fruits of that policy. A one percent interest rate and that's not a distortion? Instead of looking at consumer prices, that nobody in this country really believes, we need to talk about the distortion, the malinvestment, the misdirection, the bad information that is gotten from artificially low interest rates.
Well said Ron! (hat tip to Tim Iacono)
Excuse, I'm Going to the Head
President Bush, regarding President Musharraf: "You can't be the president
and the head of the military at the same time." (Yahoo link)
1. Wouldn't a strict constructionist point out that the U.S. Constitution says "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States"?!
2. Haven't MANY of Pres. Bush's claims of executive privilege been based on PRECISELY the fact that he is Pres and Head "at the same time"?
3. Now that I think of it, Pres. Bush is right, and can use his own example as proof.
(Nod to KL)
Time to Short Sell Domestic Pisco Manufacturers?
I am a free trader. I understand that multilateral agreements are probably the better way to go over bilaterals, but I generally like the bilateral ones as well, though it always troubles me that the text of a "free trade" agreement can be more than 2 or 3 sentences long (NAFTA runs into the thousands of pages I believe).
However, I am not sure that anything George Bush and Nancy Pelosi agree on can be very good economic policy, so I am stumped by the following from the NY Times:
In a rare show of bipartisan cooperation, President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appealed Tuesday for passage of a free-trade agreement with Peru in a vote scheduled for Wednesday in the House of Representatives.
If approved by the House, the pact could revive the administration’s trade agenda and propel faltering trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, all of which are awaiting Congressional approval.
Nearly all 200 Republicans are expected to support the Peru deal, making it possible for the measure to pass with only a small number of Democrats. Some put the number of Democratic votes in favor at 75, and it could go higher. A favorable Senate vote is considered likely.What do other prominent Democrats think, you ask?
Former Senator John Edwards opposes the Peru deal, Senator Barack Obama has endorsed it and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has not announced a position but has expressed skepticism about trade deals generally.
Don't fret Hill, I'm sure you'll figure out how to get on both sides of this issue too!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
More good economic news (no wonder the mkt is tanking!)
Specifically, labor productivity grew by 4.9% in the 3rd quarter.
The Labor Department reported that productivity -- the amount of output per hour of work -- jumped at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the July-September quarter. That was double the 2.2 percent rise in the second quarter and represented the fastest surge in worker efficiency since 2003.At the same time, wage pressures eased with unit labor costs dropping at an annual rate of 0.2 percent, the best showing in more than a year.
Both outcomes were far better than had been expected and should relieve some of the concerns that a remarkable surge in productivity that began in the mid-1990s was in danger of being reversed.
The slight drop in wage pressures was especially welcome after hefty increases over the past four quarters. Rising wages are good for workers but if they are not accompanied by strong productivity gains, they raise concerns among Fed policymakers about inflation.
The 0.2 percent decline in unit labor costs in the third quarter followed a 2.2 percent increase in labor costs in the second quarter and even bigger jumps of 5.2 percent in the first quarter and 10.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
The article even gives its own punchline!!
Wall Street was not impressed with the big rise in productivity and slowdown in wage pressures, preferring to worry about the weakness of the dollar against other currencies. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 240 points in afternoon trading.
Labels: economic growth
Is Hugo Chavez really helping Venezuela's Poor?
Should U Drink the Celtic Koolaid?
Yes, Boston is 2-0 and Kevin Garnett looks younger and happier. He is taking and making about the same amount of shots as last year but his rebounding and assists are way up. Paul Pierce is taking and making about the same amount of shots as last year.
But so far it's Ray Allen who is sacrificing, getting only 13 shots per game in over 43 minutes per game, compared to 21 shots per game in 40 minutes per game last year. His scoring hasn't dropped too much yet though because he's made over 60% of his shots so far (Pierce is not exactly lighting it up at 39% from the floor).
I am not sure how Ray and Paul can co-exist, and I am not sure how the Celts are gonna take care of the ball. They are averaging 20 assists to 16 turnovers and their point guard, who I take to be Rajon Rondo, is averaging 2.5 turnovers to 2 assists in 30 minutes per game.
yuck. By contrast, in 3 games the Pistons are averaging 22 assists to 12 turnovers and Chauncey has 7.7 apg to 2.3 turnovers per game. If the Celts had CP3 at the point, i'd say "drink up" but they don't, don't, don't.
PS. How is this setup better for KG to win "his" title than back 03-04 when he had Spree and Sammy in Minnesota? Is it just 'cause that was the West and this is the East? I do not think Boston will be fondling the Larry O'Brien this summer.
Labels: The Arts
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Leon Spinks in a Rap Song!
I really like Lupe Fiasco. My favorite song of his right now is "dumb it down". I am only putting a link to the video rather than embedding it so that you can read the following before viewing: This is a rap video. It has many bad words in it (not from Lupe, but from his discontented Greek Chorus). That said, it's very very good.
You have been warned. Here is the link
Labels: The Arts
One Solution to Rent-Seeking Games is to...STOP PLAYING!!!!
"Some stopped at the barricades to snap images of the picketers but were
waved along by police officers. 'They're writers. Couldn't they come up with
anything better than 'On strike?'' asked one officer, gesturing to the
signs...Some industry executives even believe a strike, although potentially
damaging to the business, could carry some side benefits. If a strike were
to extend into February, it would disrupt the TV pilot season, the
three-month period when studios make dozens of new shows as part of an
expensive annual competition to win a coveted spot on the prime-time
schedule of the five broadcast networks. The television companies
collectively spend more than $400 million a year on development and pilot
costs even though only a fraction of these shows achieve long-term financial
success. TV executives have long complained that the frenetic competition
for actors, directors and sound stages doesn’t translate into higher-quality
television, just higher costs...So for some TV executives, blowing up pilot
season is not such a bad idea." (LATimes)
"They're writers. Couldn't they come with anything better than "on strike"?" I enjoyed that. Apparently the cop is considering going scab, and crossing the line. That's funnier than a lot of what the writers have been putting out.
The Unskilled are also Unaware
"Why the unskilled are unaware: Further explorations of (absent) self-insight
among the incompetent"
Joyce Ehrlinger, Kerri Johnson, Matthew Banner, David Dunning & Justin
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming
People are typically overly optimistic when evaluating the quality of their performance on social and intellectual tasks. In particular, poor performers grossly overestimate their performances because their incompetence deprives them of the skills needed to recognize their deficits. Five studies demonstrated that poor performers lack insight into their shortcomings even in real world settings and when given incentives to be accurate. An additional meta-analysis showed that it was lack of insight into their own errors (and not mistaken assessments of their peers) that led to overly optimistic estimates among poor performers. Along the way, these studies ruled out recent alternative accounts that have been proposed to explain why
poor performers hold such positive impressions of their performance.
Hmmmm....I'm really good at Putt-Putt golf. Just ask Angus.
(Nod to KL, who knows what he's good at)
"Chee-KAH-go boy" makes good
Agustin Carstens, Mexico's Finance Minister, is a busy man these days. Last week he spent the first part trying to calm markets that revised inflation figures were nothing to worry about. The second half of the week he spent assisting his boss, President Felipe Calderon, tackle the aftermath of the floods that hit Tabasco state and caused more than $500 million in damages to local agriculture....
Like many other influential policymakers in Latin America the past decade, Carstens is a "Chicago boy." He earned his M.A. and Ph.D in economics from the University of Chicago. In fact, he managed to get his PhD in 1985, only two years after getting his M.A. "That must be the fastest Ph.D on record," Alberto Ibarguen, a former publisher of The Miami Herald said when introducing Carstens to the Inter-American Dialogue dinner last week.
Actually, Angus did that, too. He finished his PhD two years after his MA, at Wash U.
Since this is apparently an important qualification, I nominate Angus for Finance Minister of Bolivia. You heard it here first.
"I have set several world records in that bathtub"...And other stories
Centrist Civilian wins Guatemalan Presidency
While pre-election polls pointed to a dead heat between the candidates, textile magnate Alvaro Colom defeated General Otto Perez Molina to win the presidential election in Guatemala.
According to Reuters: voters with bad memories of atrocities under military rule rejected Perez Molina's plans to send more soldiers onto the streets, boost the use of capital punishment and emergency powers to fight crime. Perez Molina conceded defeat.
"It is a 'no' to Guatemala's tragic history," Colom, 56, said when asked if the vote was a rejection of the country's military past.Politics is not a spectator sport in Guatemala: The election campaign was marred by violence, with more than 50 political party activists or candidates for Congress or local elections killed. Colom's party was hardest hit with almost 20 party members murdered since last year.
For further analysis of the election look here.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I'm Ready for my Closeup, Mr. Demille!
Gas Prices got U down? Consider moving to Venezeula...
......where gasoline retails at the pump for around $0.07 per gallon!
Tyler recently noted that price controls were making a big time comeback. In the comments, I noted that he and others he cited had left Venezuela out of the list of controllers. Serendipitously, the NY Times Sunday mag contains a long piece about oil and Venezuela. Some highlights:
Pdvsa is also subsidizing Venezuela’s domestic oil consumption. Cheap oil for Venezuelans is nothing new; when President Pérez tried to raise gasoline prices in 1989, the riots nearly toppled him. The Venezuelans feel it is their oil; why should they have to pay for it? But the subsidies are much deeper and the quantities greater today. A gallon of gasoline costs 6.3 cents at the pump at the unofficial exchange rate. And Venezuela is now gorging on gas. Venezuela will add 450,000 new cars this year — about four times the number of four years ago. Six Hummer dealerships are set to open early next year.....
Inflation is officially at 16 percent but is most likely higher, according to Orlando Ochoa, the economist, who is usually critical of Chávez. He says that in the basket of goods and services used to measure inflation, just under half the items are sold at government-controlled prices. Many goods simply can’t be bought at those prices, and consumers must pay double the price in a street market. Or the goods can’t be found at all, their producers forced out of business by price controls. Beans and sugar were hard to find cheaply when I visited Caracas in September; fresh milk and eggs hard to find at all. Recently, people had to line up for five hours to get a liter of milk. One proposal in Chávez’s constitutional referendum could increase inflation much further by abolishing the autonomy of the Central Bank and giving the president power over Venezuela’s international reserves. The proposal would also essentially allow Chávez to print money.
The major threat to the economy comes from the exchange rate. Oil caused the bolívar to be overvalued. Farms and factories are in trouble. They can’t export and must compete at home with products imported at the official exchange rate, which is now about a third of the market rate. And so the country is awash in artificially cheap imported products, from basic foodstuffs, like Brazilian cooking oil, to fancy cars. “Our productive capacity is too weak to create jobs,” Petkoff says. “But we consume like a rich country.”The disparity between the official exchange rate (2,150 bolívars to the dollar) and the black-market rate (6,200 bolívars at press time) has created a new class known as the Boliburgesía. Bankers, traders, anyone who works in finance or commerce, can get very rich manipulating the exchange rates. Buy all the imported whiskey and Hummers you want, is the message. Live a life of wild excess. Just don’t try to produce anything.
Hmm..... maybe paying $2.85 a gallon ain't so bad after all.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Wrong, in so many ways.....
An email from a friend, with some commentary below....
Read this question, come up with an answer, and then scroll down to the bottom for the result. This is not a trick question. It is as it reads.
No one I know has been right.
A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a guy whom she did not know. She thought this guy was amazing. She believed him to be her dream guy so much, that she fell in love with him right there, but never asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed her sister.
Question: What is her motive for killing her sister?
[Give this some thought before you answer, see answer below]
(Play the Jeopardy music here)
She was hoping the guy would appear at the funeral again. If you answered this correctly, you think like a psychopath. This was a test by a famous American Psychologist used to test if one has the same mentality as a killer.
Many arrested serial killers took part in the test and answered the question correctly.
If you didn't answer the question correctly, good for you.
If you got the answer correct, please let me know so I can take you off my email list...
Interesting that these things become internet cascades. As Snopes notes, this one is not even very plausible.
Yet, three people have sent it to me.
Delete it, please, don't forward it.
Masks: How much stripping do you really want to see?
As the dialogue went:
EVEY: Is that why you're wearing a mask?
V: We all wear masks. Life creates
them and forces us to find the one
that fits. Do you know what day it is?
A video, about...stripping off masks.
Vote: For Betsy!
Vote Early, Vote Often!
Nachas: Fall Baseball 2007 version
I learned a new word last fall, "nachas", from my friend at Newmark's Door.
Of course, I already knew what nachas FELT like, as most parents do.
This fall, same baseball league:
Semifinal game, city tournament, Raleigh v. Wake Forest, scheduled starter couldn't make it, late and a bit sick. My son Brian pitched.
He threw a complete game (7 inn) shutout, against a good team. Pitching line:
They won, 3-0.
His only problem was the fourth, where leadoff guy gets on on an error, Brian walked the next two. But then he struck out two, and caught a fly ball to get out of the jam.
Complete games are extremely rare, even though "CG" is only 7 innings. Kids just lose concentration. I think it helped him that he scattered 3 hits and 5 walks, because it kept him just on the edge.
But in the 6th, he struck out 4 guys (on PB allowed the runner to get on, a curve int he dirt). And in the 7th he struck out two more, on 8 pitches.
Then we went to Taco Bell. I had Nachas Grandes.
Final game, city tournament, 15-17 year old league: tomorrow night, Monday. Will advise.
Baseball: Yer doin' it wrong (special Japanese Edition)
The "world series of Japan" just ended with the Chunichi Dragons defeating the defending champ Nippon Ham Fighters 4 games to 1.
Daisuke Yamai was the game 5 starter for Chunichi, and he did a little thing we like to call PITCHING 8 PERFECT INNINGS!! Yes my friends, 24 Ham Fighters up and 24 Ham Fighters down. In the 57 years of the Japan Series, there had never been a perfect game. In all the history of the US world series there has only been one perfect game (Don Larson y'all!).
Well there still has not been a perfect game in the Japan Series because the Dragons manager TOOK DICE Y OUT AND BROUGHT IN A RELIEVER TO PITCH THE 9th!!!!!!
I am not making this up. They were up 3 games to 1. The guy needed three more outs for immortality. And the manager gave the ball to someone else (who retired the side in order, but multi-pitcher perfect games aren't real perfect games).
I've used BDM's forecasting model to scientifically determine the chances that this could happen in the United States. Answer: 0.00%. Squadoosh. The pitcher has to get a chance to finish the perfect game.
Talk about inscrutable. wow.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Necessity is the mother of invention!
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Wedgie-proof underwear earned 8-year-old twin boys a spot Friday on "." Using rigged boxers and fabric fasteners to hold together some seams, Jared and Justin Serovich came up with the "Rip Away 1000.""When the person tries to grab you — like the bully or the person tries to give you a wedgie — they just rip away," Justin explained Thursday by phone from , where the TV segment was taped Wednesday.
The third graders frombegan brainstorming one day after they were horsing around, giving each other the treatment. Their mother's partner sarcastically said someone ought to invent wedgie-proof underwear, the family said.
The project got the boys to the finals of a central Ohio invention competition earlier this year, followed by the television appearance.
Aid: yer doin' it wrong (special french edition)
Virtually all of the children a French aid group tried to fly out of Chad last week had been living with family members in villages and were not orphans of the Darfur conflict, as the group claimed, the United Nations said Thursday.
That finding was based on interviews conducted with some of the 103 children as the government and aid groups try to figure out where they came from and how to reunite them with their families. The plane carrying the children was stopped moments before it was scheduled to take off from Abéché, a small, dust-choked city that is the base of operations for dozens of aid groups working in eastern Chad.
“These were not orphans in the desert,” said Annette Rehrl, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency. “They were living with their families.”
A French aid organization, Zoé’s Ark, had claimed that the children were sick, hungry and abandoned, and had raised money from European families to rescue the children and place them temporarily in French homes. But checkups showed the children to be in good condition, Ms. Rehrl said.
“In the context of Chad these are healthy, well-fed children,” she said.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Life takes a turn for the better in Oklahomee!!
SuperSonics new owner Clay Bennett wants to move team to Oklahoma City. He's even filed him some papers, real official like with the NBA office to that effect. The Angii ponied for season tickets during the Hornets run here and will gladly do so again for the OKC Durants if and when they arrive. Godspeed Clay!!
Labels: The Arts
Do not adjust your monitor
This is a BRAND NEW video from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Makes me remember listening to soul music on the little am radio hidden under my pillow in bed at night growing up in the suburbs of Detroit. Very cool. Listen for the Hammond B-3.
Now the market will REALLY tank!
The October jobs number has arrived and it's a good'un. 166,000 net new jobs, more than twice the consensus forecast number of 80,000. So Monday, growth comes in at 3.9% (and well above expectations) and another rate cut is tossed to the Wall St. beasties. Tuesday the market tanks.
I don't think my pension funds can stand much more good news.
Labels: economic growth
Morning sports roundup
1. Minor League Team offers A-Rod a contract. Haters point out that he's never won an International League title either!
2. Swiss Miss tests positive for blow at Wimby and then announces her retirement. so THAT's why she lost in straights to Laura Granville!
3. Pacman seeks time off for good behavior, after all, he hasn't been arrested or caught makin' it rain since getting suspended.
4. The Ricky Davis Era has officially begun in Miami. God help us all (Davis 19 shots, Shaq 6).
Thursday, November 01, 2007
But what have you done for us LATELY???
Dow drops more than 360 on fears interest rate cuts will end
So let me get this straight. One day after finding out that current growth is a robust 3.9% AND getting a second rate cut, the sky is now falling because the FOMC hinted that their might not be any MORE rate cuts? It's like dealing with a spoiled child!
"Wall Street is in love with the idea of a rate cut, and realized that the Fed said inflation is still a concern — that lowered the chances of a cut in December," said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist with Schaeffer's Investment Research. "We're now feeling the pain now that investors have slept on it, and figured out what they said."
The New Nostradamus
I give you, without commentary....BDM.
If you listen to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and a lot of people don’t, he’ll claim that mathematics can tell you the future. In fact, the professor says that a computer model he built and has perfected over the last 25 years can predict the outcome of virtually any international conflict, provided the basic input is accurate. What’s more, his predictions are alarmingly specific. His fans include at least one current presidential hopeful, a gaggle of Fortune 500 companies, the CIA, and the Department of Defense. Naturally, there is also no shortage of people less fond of his work. “Some people think Bruce is the most brilliant foreign policy analyst there is,” says one colleague. “Others think he’s a quack.”
Judging from the attire of the horde of rugrats that extorted treats from me last night, Pirates are super popular these days, but no more so than in Somalia! Earlier Mungowitz posted about how some markets are working in Somalia despite its lack of a functioning government so here's an example from statist Angus about one "market" that isn't.
U.S. Navy helps ship battle pirates off Somalia
What an awesome headline!! Here is the full story.
Selected quotes: A U.S. Navy spokeswoman said piracy was a scourge in Somalia's waters, and American ships were available to intercede.
An international watchdog reported this month that pirate attacks worldwide jumped 14% in the first nine months of 2007, with the biggest increases in the poorly policed waters of Somalia and Nigeria. Reported attacks in Somali waters rose to 26, up from eight a year earlier, the London-based International Maritime Bureau said through its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Interestingly this rise in piracy corresponds with the ouster of a form of private government and its replacement with, well, nothing!
Somalia has had 16 years of violence and anarchy, and is now led by a government battling to establish authority even in the capital. Its coasts are virtually unpoliced.
Piracy off Somalia increased this year after Ethiopian forces backing Somali government troops ousted an Islamic militia in December, said Mwangura.
During the six months that the Council of Islamic Courts ruled most of southern Somalia, where Somali pirates are based, piracy abated, Mwangura said.
At one point, the Islamic group said it was sending scores of fighters to crack down on pirates there. Islamic fighters even stormed a hijacked, UAE-registered ship and recaptured it after a gunbattle in which pirates — but no crewmembers — were reportedly wounded.If there was such a thing, how would you like to work for a Somali travel agency? Here's a possible advertising pitch: Visit Somalia: maybe an Islamic Militia will protect you!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
A Politician is EXACTLY the Sum of Her Parts
Something to do.
But...."a mathematical equation"?
(Nod to Arwen)
Surely You Joust?
A man was actually killed, jousting.
It IS dangerous, one can see that. Just an impossible chance
to be killed, though. The coin lands on its edge, sometimes.
(Nod to Nokes, who adds the following comment:
You know, I hestitated to say this in the original post, fearing that it might seem flippant, but I mean this with all due respect in light of the fact that a relatively young man died suddenly:
Since man is mortal, and we are all going to die anyway, this is a relatively cool way to go. There ought to be a reverse-Darwin award honoring people who die doing something especially cool or especially heroic. I'm not sure this qualifies as heroic, but it does qualify as cool. And, of course, he is right.)
Stupid Baseball Beliefs
Baseball is done, now we can have fun!
But first, here's some baseball wisdom to ponder during the offseason:
1. A high payroll is negatively correlated with on field success
2. A batted ball picks up speed when it bounces on astroturf (4th paragraph in the link)
3. Real men don't rub it when they get hit by a pitch
4. David Eckstein is a good baseball player
The Fed will Lead us to Ruin I say!!!
So, now that he's not in charge, the maestro sez that without a gold standard or currency board, "all of history" tells us that we will have rampant inflation.
Can this fool sink any lower?? (I mean yes, he might be right, but where where these libertarian views when he was the head of the organization he's now throwing under the bus???).
note: final sentence amended.
The Game's Afoot
The initial third quarter GDP number is in this morning at a smoking 3.9%, well above the consensus forecast of 3.2%, driven in part by a very large increase in exports (16% on an annualized basis), the biggest increase since the beginning of 2003 (underestimating export growth seems to have caused forecasters to underestimate GDP growth for over a year now).
Later today of course, the FOMC will announce whether they will feed or starve the beast of "the markets" with another rate cut. Last time the Fed made a bold half point cut in the face of the alarming (and ultimately incorrect) news of a negative jobs number. When the jobs figure was revised upward KPC wondered if the Fed had panderer's regret.
This time it will be interesting to see if the Fed will cut again in the face of such a strong current growth number. Ironic symmetry would require them not to cut only to see this number then revised substantially downward!
1. Measurement: Yr doin' it wrong: In an interesting new NBER working paper (ungated version here) Broda & Weinstein argue that Japan is systematically undermeasuring its deflation rate and thus also its rate of consumption growth.
2. Those who don't like history can always try to re-write it: The Japanese government thinks textbooks are too hard on Japan vis a vis World War II. Specifically the Government is ordering textbook producers to eliminate, among other things, the accounts of forced civilian suicides that the books currently contain.
3. Brother can you spare a riceball? If you are a hobo thinking of relocating internationally, I'd think twice about choosing Japan.
4. Japanese love Hummers!! um, to be more specific, they love the original H1 Hummer from General Motors.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
A Good Nokes, a Bad Nokes, and Anglo-Saxon Prose
Haas School: Leading Through Grabbing Its Ankles
Actual email, sent out at Haas B-school, Berkeley, today:
Dear Haas Community,
I want to alert you to a potential protest/rally today at 11:30am.
If marchers enter the building, let them. Try to carry on business as usual. If the noise becomes too great, or the crowd too large, feel free to close and lock your office doors - this is a departmental decision.
As always, feel free to contact the UC Police department at 642-6760.
Haas School of Business
University of California at Berkeley
545 Student Services Building, MC 1900
Ph.: 510-642-4617 Fax: 510-642-4700
The Haas School of Business: Leading Through Innovation
(nod to KL, who NEVER locks his doors)
UPDATE: The protest described....
What's the Buzz?
When I saw the headline: "Low Buzz May Give Mice Better Bones and Less Fat", I thought, why those lucky labrats, smoking the chronic and getting in shape at the same time. However, it turns out that the buzz in question is an electrical buzz.
It's still an interesting story, mice stand on plates that produce a low frequency buzz for 15 minutes a day and they end up with 27% less body fat and greater bone density than their non-buzzed control group brethren. Of course the results are preliminary and all that.
Interestingly, the NIH now plans a human trial using elderly people in assisted living centers. Who says we don't respect our elders in the USA??
On IQ, Fables, and the Onion
Article in the WaPo that could have been from the Onion.
cartoon: tablet-carrying Moses looking incredulously toward the heavens.
"Now, let me get this straight," the bearded figure says. "The Arabs get the oil, and we have to cut off the ends of our what?"
I like articles that could have been from the Onion.
(nod to SdM)
A Priest, A Rabbi and A Putin walk into a bar.........
Labels: people and places
Separated at Birth: TRIPLETS!!!!
They Stab it with their steely knives but they just can't Starve the Beast!
Romer and Romer in a new NBER working paper (ungated link here) ask: Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast?
Short answer from the paper: NO
Their slightly longer abstract:
The hypothesis that decreases in taxes reduce future government spending is often cited as a reason for cutting taxes. However, because taxes change for many reasons, examinations of the relationship between overall measures of taxation and subsequent spending are plagued by problems of reverse causation and omitted variable bias. To deal with these problems, this paper examines the behavior of government expenditures following legislated tax changes that narrative sources suggest are largely uncorrelated with other factors affecting spending. The results provide no support for the hypothesis that tax cuts restrain government spending; indeed, they suggest that tax cuts may actually increase spending. The results also indicate that the main effect of tax cuts on the government budget is to induce subsequent legislated tax increases. Examination of four episodes of major tax cuts reinforces these conclusions.
I like the bit that goes "the main effect of tax cuts is future tax increases".
Labels: economic policy