Saturday, July 04, 2009

Helping, Tolerating, Affect

Two very interesting studies. The stereotype is that senior women in academics can sometimes be very hard on junior women, and the stereotype is also that girls in middle school can be very hard on each other. I wonder about how the manipulations were actually managed in the Psych Science paper.

And, the other study resonates with my experience here in Franconia, in Germany. It is a very embedded culture, compared with the rest of Germany. You don't talk to people unless you have been introduced. And you would never impose on them unless you know them well. But on the other hand friendship is perhaps more important, and less superficial, here in Franconia than it is in the U.S. Not better or worse, just different.

Males' Greater Tolerance of Same-Sex Peers

Joyce Benenson, Henry Markovits, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Diana Geoffroy, Julianne Flemming, Sonya Kahlenberg & Richard Wrangham Psychological Science, February 2009, Pages 184-190

Abstract: Three studies were conducted to examine the often-cited conclusion that human females are more sociable than males. Using perceptions of roommates, roommate changes at three collegiate institutions, and an experimental manipulation of friendship beliefs, the studies demonstrated unequivocally that males exhibit a higher threshold of tolerance for genetically unrelated same-sex individuals than females do. Tolerance was defined as acceptance of the stresses and strains within relationships. Results are discussed in terms of potential underlying mechanisms and ultimate explanations.
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Helping Strangers Is Lower in Embedded Cultures

Ariel Knafo, Shalom Schwartz & Robert Levine Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract: The embeddedness cultural value orientation regards the extended in-group, not the individual, as the key social unit. Embedded cultures focus on the welfare of the in-group, limiting concern for outsiders’ well-being. Therefore, the authors hypothesized that people in high-embeddedness cultures are less helpful to strangers in need. They related countries’ embeddedness scores to rates of helping strangers in three field experiments across 21 countries. Large cross-national differences in helping strangers related strongly and negatively to cultural embeddedness in subsets of wealthy and developing countries. This suggests that prevailing cultural values affect the way people relate to needy others outside their in-group.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Mr. Pujols: Walk Him. Just Walk Him.

I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan. And so, my favorite player in all of baseball is Mr. Pujols.

But I have a question, a serious question, though it will sound crazy.

Here's the situation, last night in Cincy, playing the Reds. Cards down 3-0, looking dispirited. Men on first and second, two outs. Idiot Reds reliever walks Hoffpauir, bringing up the only real threat in the Cards lineup....Mr. Pujols.

The Reds bring in a righty reliever, to do the righty v. righty thing. This reliever is a wily veteran, David Weathers, with 18 years of major league experience. But (and I like big buts, you know I cannot lie), Mr. Pujols is 9 for 18 lifetime against David Weathers. Just wears him out like an old sock.

To complete the setting, remember that following Mr. Pujols in the lineup is Ryan Ludwick and then Rick Ankiel. Both very good defensive outfielders. But neither of them bats over the "Munger line" (my current weight is 240 lbs; Ludwick is batting .235 and Ankiel is batting .230).

Summary: 8th inning, two outs, you are ahead 3-0, the next two guys in the line-up are in deep slumps. Your bullpen is the best in the major leagues (Cincy has an amazing bullpen).

Do you pitch to Mr. Pujols? It is radical to suggest, but I say: No, you do not. Walk him. Yes, I know the bases are loaded. But. Walk. Him. It's still just 3-1 and neither of the next two batters are likely to do anything except fly out.

They pitch to Mr. Pujols.

Mr. Pujol hits a long homer, a grand slam, the big salami with extra cheese and pickles. Even Mike Shannon, who has been drunk since 1973, notes in this video that "maybe you think about walking him."

Next inning, in the 9th, he* hits an RBI double, winning the game for the Cards. Look, the rest of the Cards, not counting pitchers even, have a team batting average of .240. Albert is batting .340, with 82 RBI, 31 homers, and a slugging average of nearly .750.

Why don't they walk him? Even with the bases loaded? Baseball has this silly macho thing, instead of just trying to win.

Anyway, I do want to thank Cincinnati, and manager Dusty Baker, for giving me such a fine thrill this morning when I watched the video of Mr. Pujols single-handedly beating them. But I don't understand WHY they did that.

Every team says, "Don't let Pujols beat us." And then Pujols beats them. Because they pitch to him.

Reminds me of the old Groucho Marx joke. Guy comes running in to Groucho's office (Groucho is pretending to be a doctor). "Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this." Groucho: "Don't do that." Well, it hurts when they pitch to Mr. Pujols. Don't do that.

*Pujols, not Shannon

Sarah Palin: Certifiable Lunatic

So, Gov. Palin is quitting, just straight up quitting her job as Governor of AK.

Her reason? Pure noble self-sacrifice.

"I love my job and I love Alaska, and it hurts to make this choice, but I'm doing what's best for them," Palin said, the sun glinting off a seaplane on Lake Lucille behind her.

Palin, 45, said that, after deciding not to run for reelection as governor, she realized she did not want to finish out her term merely for the sake of doing so.

"As I thought about this announcement that I would not seek reelection, I thought about how much fun other governors have as lame ducks: They maybe travel around their state, travel to other states, maybe take their overseas international trade missions," she said.

"I'm not going to put Alaskans through that," she continued. "I promised efficiencies and effectiveness. That's not how I'm wired. I'm not wired to operate under the same old politics as usual."


Good lord. All over the world, people go to work and do their jobs, just because they have a sense of obligation. Ms. Palin just got bored with the idea of doing the job she told the citizens of Alaska she wanted, and now she is quitting that job, FOR THE SAKE OF THE CITIZENS.

She may have a point, after all. Alaska is better off without her. Just yesterday she won the award for being the most ridiculous public figure of the pawt year. That means she beat out Blago, folks. No small achievement.

Friday, July 03, 2009

HIghs and Lows of Food in Munich

I have mentioned before the food requirements of the Lovely Ms. Mungowitz. So, while we were in Munich recently, we despaired of finding a decent place to have a salad that was devoid of things such as cucumbers, peppers, cheese, dressing, or croutons. The only solution? Subway Sandwich Shop. No, I am not kidding. In Munich, we went to the Subway for lunch.

The YYM saved the day, however, by ordering potato chips. Unexpectedly, a truly genius move. Here are two of the types of potato chips available at the Munich Subway Sandwich Shop:
The first, inexplicably, is "Ready Salted." Is this "ALReady Salted," in disguise, or something else? The second is "Prawn Cocktail." We ordered those, of course. And we disappointed, since there was no noticeable flavor of prawns on the chips. (That's "crisps" for you, Tommy). Or maybe we were happy. I don't remember.

Because then we got some real food. A nice dunkel and a big-ass brezel. The YYM was pleased.

Funny Audi ad

Not sure where they are really going with this.

1. Security guards are wimps?
2. Woman can't park?
3. The security guard loaned the woman his Audi?
4. The guy is FRENCH, for heaven's sake. The gun probably isn't even loaded, because the government is arguing about standards for bullets.

I have to admit: Audi commercials are cute. Here is another, for dog lovers.

Synecdoche in Munich: Best Signs 3

Being KPC readers, you all know that "synecdoche" is not a city in New York, but is rather a figure of speech where the part is used to represent the whole. For example, if a ship has "40 hands aboard" that means 40 sailors (why not 20, since they each have 2 hands?)

Anyway, we saw a great example of synecdoche in Munich. You know how many auto companies use ads where a woman is draped across the car? They are sending this message, in effect, drawn to male psychological scale: The car is not really what is supposed to catch the male purchaser's eye, in other words. (She is on the hood of a car. Look closely.)

Well, in Munich we saw a more creative approach. They didn't use a whole woman. In fact, draped across the hood, they let the hole stand for the woman. (I like....bad... puns, you know I cannot lie!)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

She (and he) wore blue velvet

The Pantanal is great for birds too. I guess about the prettiest we saw were the Hyacinth Macaws:



Mrs. Angus took this shot on land near Porto Joffre (as always, click the photo to enlarge). They are supposedly the biggest flying parrots in the world. These two were in love and working on their nest.

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You otter be in pictures

The Pantanal is kind of a huge everglades (about the size of France) and it is a terrific place to see wildlife. It doesn't seem like it should be, but it's actually better viewing than the Amazon. We saw 4 different jaguars in 6 total sitings. We also had extending viewings of giant river otters three different times. These guys are some of my favorite animals with extremely interesting behaviors and big "personalities" (click on the picture to enlarge):


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I took this picture from a small boat on the Rio Piquiri, which divides the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The Movies: Brazil v. Germany

In Rio, Mrs. A and I also went to the movies. We saw a fairly bad movie starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen (I think it was called Duplicity?), but the experience was fun.

Like Germany, there were assigned seats. However, you could pick them in advance from a computer screen. Sadly for me, when they turned the screen around to face me, I just assumed it was a touch screen and repeatedly tried to manually select the seats we wanted to the great alarm of the clerk and the great amusement of the people in line behind me. The bus we took from Rio to Angra dos Reis also had assigned seats (this may be more common, I have to confess that I don't take the bus much!) and people seem to take their seat assignments fairly seriously.

There was also a separate line for senior citizens!

Snacks were different from the US. There was popcorn and soda, but no candy bars. People were eating dessert items and even sandwiches at tables by the concession stand before the film started. There was very little eating inside the screening room. From what we saw overall, there are few obese people in Brazil (even compared to Mexico, let alone the US).

Prices were amazingly high, more than $10 per ticket, but at least there was no intermission.

The film was subtitled, but not very well. Mrs. A and I can both read Portuguese pretty well and were cracking up a few times at the differences between the spoken English and the written Portuguese.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mission accomplished

Mrs. Angus and I are back from Brazil. Many cool things, stories, and adventures, but I figured I'd better not bury the lead: WE SAW JAGUARS IN THE WILD!!!!!!!!!

Here is an example, taken from a small boat on the Cuiaba river in the Pantanal:


 


Click on the picture to enlarge. That was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

More soon.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Class and Voting: Chavismo and Bushismo

Who Votes for Chavismo? Class Voting in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

Noam Lupu, Latin American Research Review, forthcoming

Abstract: The conventional wisdom about contemporary Venezuelan politics is that class voting has become commonplace, the poor doggedly supporting Hugo Chavez while the rich oppose him. This class voting is seen as both a new feature of Venezuelan politics and a puzzle given the multiclass bases of prior populist leaders in Latin America. I clarify the concept of class voting by distinguishing between monotonic and non-monotonic associations between class and vote choice. Using survey data, I find that only in Chavez's first election in 1998 was class voting monotonic. Since then, class voting in Venezuela has been non-monotonic, with the very wealthiest Venezuelans disproportionately voting against Chavez. At the same time, Chavez's support appears to have increased most among the middle classes, not the poor. Finally, I find that whatever effect Chavez may have had on overall turnout, his efforts have not disproportionately mobilized poor voters.

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State Income Inequality and Presidential Election Turnout and Outcomes

James Galbraith & Travis Hale, Social Science Quarterly, December 2008, Pages 887-901

Objective: This study examines the links among income inequality, voter turnout, and electoral choice at the state level in recent presidential elections.
Methods: We introduce two new state-level ecological data sets, estimated annual Gini coefficients of income inequality from 1969 to 2004 and a measure of income segregation across Census tracts within states in 1999. We test for associations among inequality, turnout, and party preference with cross-sectional, fixed-effects, and multilevel analyses.
Results: The cross-sectional effect of inequality on voter turnout and electoral choice is ambiguous. However, a fixed-effects analysis links higher income inequality to lower voter turnout and also to a stronger Democratic vote. Multilevel results indicate that higher levels of economic segregation likewise are associated with depressed turnout, after controlling for individual voter characteristics and for state-level income.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Institute for Justice Study

A new IJ study, one that I was privileged to write. Lots of good support in editing and packaging from the IJ folks, I have to admit. They do a first rate job.

Americans were once free to speak about politics without asking permission from the government or being forced to document their political activities for the authorities. But under the guise of “campaign finance reform,” government regulation of political speech has metastasized, spreading far beyond the mere financing of campaigns to monitor and control everyday political speech by ordinary citizens.

The latest wave of such regulation is state and federal laws targeting so-called “electioneering communications.” The term is most closely associated with the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, known popularly as McCain-Feingold, and describes broadcast ads that merely mention a federal candidate and that air shortly before an election. For the first time in American history, federal law brought such speech and the groups that engage in it under the regulatory control of the government.

Best Signs in the World--2

Here is a very fine sign, near an American military base in Germany: I would imagine that this command applies especially, though not exclusively, to those people who actually HAVE dogs....On the other hand, apparently the troops are allowed to fill their housing areas with cow or turtle excrements, if they so desire. Rules can seem so arbitrary, don't you think?

(Nod to Martin, who fills his housing area with sturm und drang, though in a tasteful and friendly way)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers

Zoooh (as the Germans say), I went with the YYM to a movie today here in Erlangen. Transformers. (I should note that that web site is EXACTLY a rip-off of the Starcraft web site maintained by Blizzard, ten years ago)

On the German movie experience:

1. Assigned seats. No, really.
2. Unbelievably outrageous prices. Just like the U.S. in other words. Equivalent of $12 US for a ticket. Interestinglz, they price higher on weekends.
3. You can get a combo deal (menü) that is downright American, also. A giant (1.5 liter Pepsi Leight and a huge bucket o'popcorn. For about $11 US. No ice in the drink, though, so of course it is warm pretty fast. If you are going for the giant American style drink you have to cough up for the ice, I think.
4. After 10 minutes of previews, the curtain closes, the lights come up, and the theater comes in with a bucket of candy. He asks if everyone is okay, ready to start? People yell, "JAAAAH!" He goes back out. Then ten more minutes of trailers.
5. At this point about ten people come in, in the dark. the YYM and I had moved, because our ridiculous assigned seats were in the only row that had people in it. Apparently they sell one row at a time, in case there is a last minute rush from an arriving aircraft carrier. We had to get up, and find other seats, because bizarrely we happened to sit in the seats assigned to the rational late-comers.
6. A solid 25 minutes after the movie is supposed to start, it starts. Of course, it is Transformers. Having it be in German is a blessing. I am free to think that I have no idea what is going on because of the language barrier. If it were in English I would know that I had no idea what was going because it actually makes no sense.
7. After 80 minutes, the curtain closes, and the lights come up. Intermission. No, really.
8. AFter 10 minutes, lights go back down, and the movie starts, going on for another 70 minutes.

On the movie: it would have been dramatically improved by cutting out a full hour. I'm not exaggerating. It is an hour too long. At one point, the hero stops to talk to the SHC who is running with him toward the amazingly nonsensical conclusion. It has taken them at least a minute to move 100 meters, under violent attack from every quarter, for the last ten minutes. In other words, they have moved maybe a kilometer in ten minutes. They peer ahead. Hero says to Smokin' Hot Chick (Megan Fox), "We only have another 3 kilometers to go!" Audience actually groans and laughs, loudly. I have never seen that reaction before.

It is pretty clear who the target audience of this movie is. Here is a pic of Megan Fox, the main SHC. She is "painting" the motorcycle, in her dad's motorcycle shop. And, if you have been to a motorcycle chop shop, then you know that this is just how the workers look, dress, and position themselves to paint. JUST like this.

Biggest stars of the movie:
A. Megan Fox's breasts (they appear in nearly every non-exploding scene, and many exploding scenes.
B. The two "Jar Jar in a Car Car" transformers, though in the German dubbing they just had high pitched voices, like Ewoks.
C. The U.S. military. It was practically a commercial. Brave. Excellent tech weapons. The scenes with the planes, and the foot soldiers who never retreat, and then the hovercraft tank carriers....made you want to join.
D. Chevrolet. It straight up WAS a commercial.
E. The enormous destroyer Decepticon transformer. It had a giant pair of wrecking balls, right where a mammal that size would have...well, a giant pair of wrecking balls.

Things that should be shot over, or maybe just shot: A. The theme that bad government officials ruin everything. The fact is that bad is the ONLZ* kind of government official there is. Of COURSE they ruin everything. B. The plot. Incredibly bad. C. The editing. Leave an hour of this turkey behind, and it would be a lot more watchable.

My favorite review: It’s like watching a blender for two hours while someone shouts at you. And then the last half an hour is the same, except it’s more like having your head strapped to a washing machine while you watch a blender and someone shouts at you. And that guy LIKED the movie.

Still, I have to admit, I liked it too. It is a terrible movie, but it hardly pretends to be anything other than what it is. It is comic book set to massive sound and music, with several SHCs, and tremendous special effects. It's worth seeing. If you are male and 16, it may be worth seeing twice.

*darned german keyboard!

UPDATE: As commenter NP points out, here is a better review. What HE said. That's what I think, now, too.

Earmarks and Rules

Determinants of the distribution of congressional earmarks across states
Melissa Boyle & Victor Matheson, Economics Letters, August 2009, Pages 63-65

Abstract: This paper examines pork-barrel spending within states and finds that per
capita earmarked funding is correlated with the inverse of a state's population, the presence of a Republican Congressional delegation, and the tenure of a state's senior Senator.

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Administrative Procedures and Bureaucratic Performance: Is Federal
Rule-making "Ossified"?
Jason Webb Yackee & Susan Webb Yackee, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, forthcoming

Abstract: We provide the first empirical assessment of the ossification thesis, the widely accepted notion that procedural constraints on federal agencies have greatly hindered the ability of those agencies to formulate policy through notice and comment rule-making. Using data that cover all active federal rule-writing agencies from 1983 to 2006, our results largely disconfirm the ossification thesis. Agencies appear readily able to issue a sizeable number of rules and to do so relatively quickly. Indeed, our empirical results suggest that procedural constraints may actually speed up the promulgation of rules, though our model suggests that this positive effect may decline, or even reverse, as proposed rules age. We conclude that procedural constraints do not appear to unduly interfere with the ability of federal agencies to act, or in most cases, to act in a timely manner.


(Nod to Kevin L, who always finds the coolest stuff)